How to write a manifesto

By Patricia Hu (Junior Reo)

Hello/大家好!  I’m Patricia, a first year law student, a Hong Konger, and a turtleneck sweater enthusiast. I will also be our tour guide through this SHAPED blog post on writing a manifesto (or several - go big or go home). Though manifesto-writing season may be over, it’s never too early to begin preparing for the next round of applications. 

Just a disclaimer: though I’ve only made two manifestos and I’m definitely not the go-to authority on manifesto writing, I will make it my best attempt to guide you through the key to writing an solid manifesto. I will label the steps you should follow when writing a manifesto through song titles (of songs that I like) - my music taste isn’t great, but if you’d like, give the songs a listen!!

Here is my manifesto: 


1. Know What I Want
(Song by Kali Uchis - perfect for Amy Winehouse fans)

The first thing you do when you’re writing a manifesto is to, from the Exec’s perspective, “Know What I Want”. You need to know look exactly what they are requesting from you. To do this, you should...

A. Do research! On the team’s websites/Facebook pages, read up on what your potential role entails and read current Exec profiles (+ what they do in the club). It also helps to talk to people who are currently in the society for further insight into the club/role.

B. Look at what information they want from you on the manifesto, word for word. It doesn’t normally stray away from “please mention your past experiences/hobbies/roles and strengths…”

C. Looking at what they want from you in 1.B, brainstorm + make a mindmap with the categories they’ve requested - begin thinking about your own life experience. If you already have a CV or resume, highlight skills/abilities you think are most applicable to the role.

Personal tip: SHAPED told us to “Include what caught your interest about SHAPED and what makes you qualified for a position as a Junior Rep (activities, hobbies, roles, previous jobs, or your passion for being involved with SHAPED - anything goes!)” on our manifestos. 

However, because I wanted to mention more than just what was asked - eg. I discussed what I want to do if I get into SHAPED. Therefore, I grouped the other bits together into broader categories (eg. ‘Why I’m Interested’ included passion for SHAPED + what got me interested in it). I would suggest organising ideas they want from you under broader categories if there’s more you want to mention! 

2. Glamorous
(Song by Fergie - for a 2000’s throwback!!)

Now that the toughest part of the manifesto is over, you should attempt to make it as visually stunning as possible. There are a few things you can do to help you in the design process:

A. Play around with design apps - Canva, Pages, Word, Gimp (all free); PicMonkey, Photoshop, InDesign (7 day free trial, paid afterwards with student discount) and familiarise yourself with what you can do.

B. Look around for graphic design inspiration!! If you’re feeling clueless about what you want, Google searching something like “graphic design” or “event poster” can be great help. For me personally, I love the song Hotline Bling a lot (despite its mediocre lyrics), ergo its album art/music video became the key source of inspiration for my manifesto (the background,  font, the photo in the right corner, the 1800-motif).

3. Double Vision
(Song by 3OH!3 - not a big fan of this song but I couldn’t find a song title to match this topic)

Now that your manifesto is in its final stage, make sure...

 A. You don’t exceed the word count, and

 B. You look out for GPS: grammar/punctuation/spelling!

4. Party in the U(K)
(Song by Miley Cyrus- needs no explanation)

Congrats!! Send off your manifesto and relax (or not.....the grind 😩😩💪💪💯never 😤💪🤔🤔👊😤stops 💯👊💦💦💯🉐) You’ve done the most you can in the time period/circumstances you had - now your manifesto is in the hands of the Exec and you should hope for the best!

Hope you found this useful! I wish you the best of luck with your future manifestos! <3

之之 (Patricia)