Stanford on YouTube Description Style Guide
Example description (from Matt Bannick’s VIP speaker series video):
Put the right money in the right hands: Why do we spend more on battling male pattern baldness than on battling malaria? As part of Stanford’s VIP speaker series, Matt Bannick discusses how Omidyar Network invests in entrepreneurs who are advancing social good. Bannick is managing partner at Omidyar and was formerly president of eBay International and PayPal.
The VIP (Very Impactful People) speaker series features talks by influential social innovators and entrepreneurs and is organized by the Stanford Social Entrepreneurial Students’ Association (SENSA). Learn more at: http://stanford.io/1Ld7Uxz
Writing the description:
Video descriptions should span either one or two (short) paragraphs in length, depending on the length and richness of the content. Consider these four steps when writing your description:
1. Hook: If the content of the video allows (and you’ve got time), try to open the description with a short “hook.” This can either be a catchy quote or a pithy statement that captures the message of the video.
- Example “catchy quote” (from Bill Burnett’s “Designing Your Life” video): “The notion that you need to have a passion and follow it is a destructive idea.”
- Example “pithy statement”: Put the right money in the right hands: Why do we spend more on battling male pattern baldness than on battling malaria?
2. Summary: Include a 1-2 line summary of what the video is about. Make sure to include the video subject’s name and any immediately useful and important facts about the subject and/or event.
- Example summary: As part of Stanford’s VIP speaker series, Matt Bannick discusses how Omidyar Network invests in entrepreneurs who are advancing social good.
3. Background info: Add background information about the subject and/or event that will help make the video more interesting and meaningful for the viewer. If you haven’t already provided the subject’s position or title and/or the context in which the subject is speaking, do so here.
- Example background info: Bannick is managing partner at Omidyar and was formerly president of eBay International and PayPal.
The VIP (Very Impactful People) speaker series features talks by influential social innovators and entrepreneurs and is organized by the Stanford Social Entrepreneurial Students’ Association (SENSA).
4. Link(s): Add a single link at the end of your description if the video is related to a text story published by the Stanford News Service or other campus communications platform. Shorten the link using SocialFlow, so that it has our custom URL.
- Example link: … is organized by the Stanford Social Entrepreneurial Students’ Association (SENSA). Learn more: http://stanford.io/1Ld7Uxz
YouTube description checklist:
- Hook (optional)
- Subject’s name
- Subject’s position, title or affiliation
- Event name/context
- Summary (1-2 lines) of video content
- Location and date of event
- Relevant background information
- Link to text story, if available, or other content home
AP/Stanford Style tips to remember when writing YouTube descriptions:
Academic degrees: Avoid abbreviations in text; use bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, doctorate, etc. Use abbreviations such as BA, MS and PhD in lists or where the need to identify many individuals by degree would make the preferred form cumbersome. Abbreviating academic degrees without periods is contrary to AP style, but it is common in academic practice.
Academic departments and programs: Capitalize the formal name: Department of History, Program in Human Biology. The of may be dropped and the title flopped while capitalization is retained: History Department, Human Biology Program. Lowercase department in plural uses, but capitalize the proper name element: the departments of History and Political Science.
Academic titles; other campus titles: Capitalize and spell out formal titles such as professor, professor emeritus, associate professor, assistant professor, provost, dean, chairman, etc., when they precede a name; lowercase elsewhere. For long titles, an appositional construction is preferred: the Rev. Scotty McLennan, dean for religious life, rather than Dean for Religious Life the Rev. Scotty McLennan.
Alumnus, etc.: Alumnus (sing.) refers to a man who has attended a school; plural alumni. Alumna (sing.) refers to a woman who has attended a school; plural alumnae. Use alumni when referring to a group of men and women. In direct quotation or where informality is acceptable: alum (sing.); alums (pl.).
Comma: Do not put a comma before the conjunction in a simple series (The flag is red, white and blue). Put a comma before the concluding conjunction in a series, however, if an integral element of the series requires a conjunction: He had orange juice, toast, and ham and eggs for breakfast. A comma before the concluding conjunction may be desirable for clarity in a series of phrases.
Compositions and Publications: Put quotation marks around titles of whole compositions: books, motion pictures, newspapers, periodicals, plays, poetry collections and long poems, proper titles of musical compositions and works of art, individual names of ships/aircraft/spacecraft. Put quotation marks around names of exhibitions, as well as foreign words not universally accepted into English, and Latin names of plants and animals.
Capitalize the in a newspaper’s name if that is the way the publication prefers to be known. Do not place name in quotes.
Capitalize the initial letters of the name of a magazine, but do not place it in quotes. Lowercase magazineunless it is part of the publication’s formal title: Harper’s Magazine Newsweek magazine, Time magazine.
Titles of television and radio programs are quoted.
Place inside quotation marks lecture titles, titles of papers, journal articles, short stories, short poems, essays, songs, and book chapters or other titled sections of a book.
Compound modifiers: When a compound modifier—two or more words that express a single concept— precedes a noun, use hyphens to link the words in the compound (with exception of the adverb very and all adverbs that end in –ly): a first-quarter touchdown, a bluish-green dress, a full-time job, a well-known man, a better-qualified woman, a know-it-all attitude, a very good time, an easily remembered rule
Course titles: Capitalize course titles and set in italic. If used, discipline and course number are in roman type (Philosophy 50, Introductory Logic; Athletics 83, Lifeguard Training; Computer Science 242, Programming Languages).
Dates, decades and centuries: Use Arabic figures without st, nd, rd or th. Year is set off by commas when preceded by month and date (The policy will take effect Jan. 1, 2003, and will apply to all staff); no commas with month/season and year only (January 2001, summer 2002). When a month is used with a specific date, abbreviate only Jan., Feb., Aug., Sept., Oct., Nov. and Dec.; spell out months when using alone or with year alone. Decades: Use Arabic figures for decades of history; use an apostrophe to indicate numerals that are left out: the 1990s, the ’90s.
Dollars and cents: Use figures and $ sign in all except casual references (Give me a dollar) or amounts without a figure (The dollars were stolen from an armored truck). For amounts of more than $1 million, use the $ and numerals up to two decimal places: $4,351,242 or $4.35 million. Do not link the numeral and word with a hyphen: He proposed a $300 billion budget. The form for amounts less than $1 million: $4, $25, $500, $1,000, $650,000. For amounts less than a dollar, use numerals and spell out the word cents: 5 cents, 12 cents. Use $ and decimal system for larger amounts: $1.01, $2.50.
Emeritus: The designation indicates that the retiree holds an honorary title corresponding to that held last during active service. The designation follows the title: Professor Emeritus Ronald Rebholz came to Stanford in 1961 as an instructor in English. Barbara Gelpi, professor emerita of English, is a Victorianist by training. George Dekker is the Joseph S. Atha Professor in the Humanities, Emeritus. Professors Emeriti Sanford Dornbusch, Albert Hastorf and Herant Katchadourian will speak at a panel discussion on the history of the Program in Human Biology.
Italics: Youtube doesn’t allow for the use of italics; refer to “Compositions and Publications.”
Numbers: Cardinal numbers: Spell out whole numbers below 10. Use figures for 10 and above.
Ordinal numbers: Spell out first through ninth.
Course numbers, course units, units of measure, percentages and other statistical measures: Use figures.
Use commas in 4-digit numbers: 1,000. Use figures with million or billion: The 1990 U.S. Census included almost 2 million American Indians. Do not drop the word million or billion in the first figure of a range: The company is worth from $2 billion to $4 billion (not from $2 to $4 billion, unless you really mean $2). In proper names, use words or numerals according to an organization’s practice: 20th Century Fox, Twentieth Century Fund.
Schools: Stanford is organized into seven schools: Business, Earth, Education, Engineering, Humanities and Sciences, Law and Medicine, comprising more than 70 departments. The Business School’s formal name, which generally should be used on first reference, is the Graduate School of Business.
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