Submission Guidelines

Members of the Defence Team are welcome to submit articles, photos and videos to be considered for publishing.

The Maple Leaf is the official online magazine for members of the Canadian Armed Forces and employees of the Department of National Defence, and is produced by the Assistant Deputy Minister (Public Affairs).

Submissions should be sent from a Defence email account (i.e. john.smith@forces.gc.ca) to Internal Communications. Please include metadatakeywords, and alt text, as well as the author’s or contributor’s name, phone number, and email address.

For reference, take a look at our article template.

Metadata

Metadata helps search engines find your content. Metadata is that snippet of text found under a headline on a search page that describes exactly and concisely what your article, statement or video is about. Avoid flowery language and adjectives, and use active verbs to describe your information. Metadata should be 200 characters, including spaces, or less.

Example:

(headline) The Maple Leaf launches new web site

(metadata) The newspaper of the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces launched its web site in June 2017, to tell stories about Canada’s Defence Team.

Keywords

Three to seven keywords are required for each article. Keywords help users search for specific information on the Internet. When writing keywords:

  • DON’T choose words or acronyms that are vague. DND, CAF and Defence all are poor keyword choices, as everything we write about can be tagged with these keywords.
  • DON’T choose keywords that the average reader wouldn’t use, such as terminology or acronyms that speak only to subject matter experts.
  • DO think about the words that the average user might type into a search engine.

Example:

For an article on “computer security requirements at Defence,” appropriate keywords might include some of the following: cyber, computer, DWAN, security, anti-virus, PKI, software, applications, desktop.

Alt Text

Alt text (or alternative text/alternative tags) describes the CONTENT and FUNCTION of images on a web page. This comprises all photographs and graphic elements, including but not limited to icons, graphs, branding elements, and logos.

Electronic screen readers use alt text to describe images for the visually impaired. Alt text should not be a copy-paste of your photo caption. Rather, it must describe the image exactly and concisely. Remember, electronic screen readers will also read the photo caption to the user, so the alt text must include information different from the caption.

Example 1:

Caption: The RMC team competes in one of 11 events during West Point’s annual Sandhurst competition.

Alt text: Three Royal Military College cadets, carrying rifles and heavy back packs, and wearing camouflaged Canadian Armed Forces uniforms and helmets, trek across rugged terrain.

Caption

The RMC team competes in one of 11 events during West Point’s annual Sandhurst competition.

 

Example 2:

In this case, the alt text can’t just simply state that this is a pie chart. A visually impaired reader must also be able to understand the information the pie chart conveys.

Caption: Departmental spending for 2015-16 by program (dollars)

Alt text:

This pie chart illustrates the Department of National Defence’s spending for Fiscal Year 2015-16, broken down by program.

Caption

Departmental spending for 2015-16 by program (dollars)

 

The percentages allocated to each program, from largest to smallest, are:

  • 67%, $12,577,878,081 for Defence Capability Element Production;
  • 18%, $3,401,386,557 for Defence Ready Force Element Production;
  • 7%, $1,360,079,139 for Defence Combat and Support Operations;
  • 3%, $453,694,400 for Defence Services and Contributions to Government;
  • 2%, $448,245,658 for Internal Services; and
  • 2%, $424,789,408 for Defence Capability Development and Research.

Video Submissions

In accordance with Government of Canada regulations, all videos must be accompanied by separate English and French transcripts, and separate English and French closed captioning files (or open captioning files, which are required when the video is available in only one language, or has bilingual segments throughout).

It is the responsibility of the submitting organization to ensure that videos are fully transcribed and closed or open captioned before submitting them to The Maple Leaf.

Transcript: A verbatim print version of the words spoken in the video.

Closed Captioning (CC): CC is a text version (transcript) of the words spoken in the video displayed on the screen. CC is not visible until activated by the viewer, usually via the menu option in the video player. Closed captioning was developed to aid the hearing-impaired.

Open Captions: Open captions are text (transcript) which appears on the screen to translate the language being spoken in the video. Open captions are “burned-in,” meaning that they are overlaid onto the video itself and are visible to viewers at all times.

Step 1: Transcription

Required for both the English and French versions of videos.

Have the video transcribed. If the video is unilingual, have the transcript translated

Step 2: Closed captioning (may require contracting to private industry by the submitting organization)

Required for both the English and French versions of videos.

  1. Send French and English transcripts and associated video files to the captioner/company and request closed-captioning for each language.
  2. In return, they will send two XML files (.xml) —one English and one French— which you must then submit along with the English and French video files and English and French transcripts to The Maple Leaf.

Step 3: Open captioning, as required (may require contracting to private industry by the submitting organization)

Scenario 1: Required if the videos are filmed in one language only.

  1. Open captions are needed when a video has been produced in only one language (e.g. if the whole video was filmed only in English) in order to post to both English and French webpages.
  2. For example, if an English video needs to be released on a French webpage, it requires French opening captioning (subtitles).
  3. Send the translated transcript and video file to the captioner/company and request open captioning.
  4. In return, they will send one new video file with the embedded open captions appearing at the bottom of the screen throughout the video.
  5. Submit the open caption files along with the two video files, the transcripts, and closed caption files to The Maple Leaf.

Scenario 2: Required if the video is partially bilingual.

  1. Open captions are sometimes needed only at certain spots in a video and not throughout the entire product (e.g. a video with some segments filmed in French and other segments filmed in English).
  2. In this scenario, you must provide the transcript of the specific sections which require open captioning, along with the video, to the captioner/company. For example, if most of the video is in English, but there is an interview in French, the open captions act as English subtitles under the French dialogue.
  3. The reverse will need to be done in this example to post the video to a French web page (i.e. French subtitles, or open captions, will need to be added to the English portions of the video).
  4. To make it easier for the captioner, flag the exact time signatures for the segments of the video which require open captioning (e.g. 00:30 to 01:00).
  5. In return, the company will send new video files with the embedded open captions appearing at the bottom of the screen at the parts where the non-native language is being spoken.
  6. Submit the open caption files along with the two video files, the transcripts, and closed caption files to The Maple Leaf.

Grammar and Style

Articles shall adhere to the following editing standards:

  1. Canada.ca Content Style Guide;
  2. Canadian Style Guide to Writing and Editing;
  3. Defence Terminology Bank (accessible only on the Defence Team intranet);
  4. Termium Plus, the Government of Canada’s terminology and linguistic data bank; and
  5. The Gage Canadian Dictionary.

Length

Articles should not exceed 450 words in English (500 in French).

By-lines and Photo Credits

By-lines and photo credits should be included when available. Include first names and military ranks.

Imagery

High-resolution imagery (e.g. a photo, chart or graph) must accompany submissions, along with captions. Images should clearly communicate the subject matter. Cover images must not contain any text.

Images must be high-resolution:

Captions

Captions must include a description of the photo and photo credit. Ranks, as well as the first and last names of people in photos, must be provided. Photos without these details will not be included.

Videos

To meet accessibility and official languages guidelines and standards, videos submitted for publication on The Maple Leaf web site must meet certain display criteria, including proper transcriptions and closed or open captioning.

Note

Do not send video files by email due to their size. Rather, contact Internal Communications to discuss options.

Translation

Submissions must be sent in both official languages, except for articles submitted by individuals without access to linguistic services through their organization.

Approvals

Articles must be approved by the submitting organization’s chain of command, before submission. In cases when submissions are incorporated into larger articles by CIC, a copy of the final article will be provided to the contributor for information purposes and, if necessary, to verify facts.

Note

CIC reserves the right to reject submissions, and edit submissions for style, content, grammar, and length. Submissions may be rewritten or incorporated into a larger article for greater depth and reach.

Please include a letter or email from your chain of command showing that your article and photographs have been approved.

Article Template

Imagery  (e.g. a photo, chart or graph) must accompany submissions, along with captions.

Images can be submitted via email to the Internal Communications. For large files or multiple files exceeding attachment limits, contact Internal Communications.

Images must be high-resolution:

Captions

Captions must include a description of the photo and photo credit. Ranks, as well as the first and last names of people in photos, must be provided.

Titles

Title should have an active verb, and 60 characters max*

*A title with an active verb can convey the gist of “what happened”.

Keeping titles shorter than 60 characters improves the article’s (and thereby the site’s) performance on search engines.

By Author Name, Unit/OPI

The opening paragraph (also known as lede) should not exceed approximately 40 words. It should capture the essence of the article (5 Ws and H – who, what, when, where, why, how). This grabs the attention of the reader, and delivers the essence of the message for the intended audience. Articles should follow the Canada.ca writing principles for web content. Most people come to a government website to complete a task, and expect us to provide information that will help them. Stylistically, the language should be simple, and avoid jargon, passive voice, and long and juxtaposed sentences to the extent possible. Writing in plain language doesn’t mean over-simplifying or leaving out critical information. It actually makes critical information accessible and readable for everyone. The overall length should not exceed approximately 450 words in English and 500 words in French. The message should be supported with important and interesting details, quotes, anecdotes, etc. Key bits of information should be easily visually identifiable, for example by splitting the text into short paragraphs (around 3 sentences). Where applicable, the article should include an actionable component (e.g. web link, email address, phone number, steps to follow, etc.)

Related links

List any appropriate web links for further information or action

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