Amazing profiles in 50 words or fewer? Here’s how.

Are you stuck in a creative rut? Interested in finding a new way to write better profiles? Want to know the exact words that you might be saying to your writers that are driving them crazy?

Read on!

First, here’s what’s been happening at Capstone this fall.

I’m thrilled to announce that two stories I wrote for St. Olaf won honors from the Minnesota Media + Publishing Association. Additionally, thanks a million to Carole Engblom, who helped make both stories award-worthy.

Here are a few other recently published projects.

See me in Chicago! 
I’ll be teaming up with Purdue’s Kat Braz to speak at the CASE V Conference in Chicago next month. Headed in that direction? If so, let’s connect! I’ll be offering up a few free mini magazine consults after the session. If you’re interested, email me at and I’ll send you the details.

Now, on to a few things we’re loving this month.

In these profiles, your choices define you.

  • What can you learn about a person in 50 words?
    A lot, it turns out. I love this above profile format from Runner’s World, which asks people to define who they are as a runner through a series of choices.

    If you’re a runner (I am!), you likely understand the nuances of these options and imbue real meaning into each one (Hat over sunglasses? Obviously. Banana over bagel? Hmmmm. I have opinions and that, and this guy is wrong.)

    Imagine doing something similar for your college to write better profiles. What would those choices look like? How could each choice remind a reader of their own experience and values as an alum of your school?

  • “Worst feedback you can get from an editor, ranked.”
    Editors, you make writers look great. Every award I’ve taken home is at least 50 percent better because of the help I got from my editor.

    Still, there are sometimes things that editors say that make writers want to set fire to their laptops and throw them out the window. Take a look at this Twitter post and its replies to see if you’re making any of these mistakes.

  • Here’s what will make your writers love you.
    Sure, there’s stuff that writers won’t love to hear from you. So what do they want to hear? Scroll down to the end of this post to find out.

  • Does your publication need a (literal) twist?
    Here at Capstone, we were captivated by a story in the New York Times about “mini books.” They’re about the size of your smartphone and paged through from bottom to top, much like the scrolling you do on your phone.

    I bought one just to check it out and man, is it cool. To us, these books are a reminder that there is still so much cool stuff to explore with print publications, even after 500+ years.