Posted by TAG - April 22, 2004 | Stylebook

NLN Style Guide

“Writing is the art of the second thought.” – Rene Cappon, Associated Press Guide To Writing News

Numerals
Ages: “17-year-old”
Numerals: Do NOT use -st,-rd,-th
Numerals: spell out below 10
Temperature: “In the 80s”
Time: “3:30 p.m.”
A B C
Spelling: ad nauseam
Hyphenate: anti-abortion
Hyphenate: anti-war
Usage: African-American
D E F
Spelling: e-mail
No Periods: EU
No Prefix: Fatah
No Periods: FBI or “the bureau”
Spelling: filmmaker
G H I
Usage: imam (lowercase unless used with a name)
J K L
Spelling: Quran (not Koran)
Spelling/Caps: Jell-O (trademark)
M N O
Abbreviation: MB (megabyte)
Usage: mentally disabled (not mentally retarded)
P Q R
Quotes: Avoid fragments (use entire quote)
Quotes: He said “Use caps for first word.”
Quotes: He said Even without quotation marks.
Spelling: Quran (not Koran)
Spelling: passer-by / passers-by
Spelling: re-election
S T U
Spelling: sit in (verb), sit-in (noun)
Spelling: set up (verb), setup (noun)
Usage: sneaked (not “snuck”)
Usage: Speaker Quinn / Pelosi (caps – title)
Usage: spokesman/spokeswoman (not “spokesperson”)
Spelling: take over (verb), takeover (noun)
Spelling: tape-record (verb), tape recording (noun)
Spelling: tune up (verb), tuneup (noun)
Spelling: un-American
V W X
Spelling: V-8
Spelling/Caps: Velcro (trademark)
Y Z
Spelling/Caps: X-ray

GENERAL RULES

Be certain you have said all that you meant to say.
Be concise. Be direct. Keep it simple.
Slight reworking/rewording can produce major results.
Check spelling, hyphens, names, numbers, terms.
Fix long sentences, passive voice and non-parallel constructions.
Arrange pairs and series from short to long.
Arrange compound subjects/predicates from simple to compound.
Proofread everything. Twice.

AVOID ABSTRACTIONS

“Poses a danger” -> “Is risky”

AVOID REDUNDANT ADJECTIVES

“Very urgent” -> “Urgent”
(ask yourself is ‘urgent’ somehow less urgent than ‘very urgent’?)

AVOID EXCESS MODIFIERS

“Body found stuffed into a” -> “Body found in a ..”
“In general” (cut)
“In particular” (cut)

AVOID FIFTY CENT WORDS, BE PRECISE/CONCISE

accomplish -> do
approximately -> about
component -> part
facilitate -> ease, help
initiate -> begin
lengthy -> long
methodology -> method
objective -> goal
peruse -> read
replicate -> repeat
utilize -> use

AVOID QUALIFIERS

“Pleaded guilty to the ALLEGED crime”
If guilty, crime is not alleged.

“Arguably…” skip it.
“Possible strike” … strike possible.

AVOID NOUNS WHEN VERBS WILL DO

“Established conclusive evidence” -> “proved”
“Gave permission” -> “permitted”
“Held a meeting” -> “met”
“Reached an agreement” -> “agreed”
“Submitted his resignation” -> “resigned”

AVOID EXCESS NOUNS, PERIOD.

field of economics -> economics
level of wages -> wages
process of industrialization -> industrialization

AVOID EXCESS VERBS

have a tendency to -> tend to
make progress toward -> progress toward

AVOID PREPOSITIONS

the making of cloth -> making cloth
fill up the tank -> fill the tank
many of the x -> many x

DON’T START WITH “It” OR “There”

It was Henry… -> Henry …

PRONOUN CONFUSION – WHO’S WHO

Be clear who the pronoun refers to, rephrase/paraphrase

AVOID SUPERFLUOUS SYNONYMS

Use the correct, precise, term. Repeat as needed.

USE ACTIVE VOICE

“Police said …”
“Candles were carried…” -> “demonstrators carried candles”
“X was arrested by” -> “police arrested x”
“there was no one who did x” -> “no one did x”
“x did not [verb] y” -> “x [verb] y” (e.g. consider/ignored)

KEEP BACKGROUND FROM DERAILING THE TRAIN OF THOUGHT

If details are not related to main idea, move them to a new graf.

GOOD LEADS

Clearly state the main news point and one detail that makes it unique.
Avoid secondary detail.
Avoid abstract, general language.
Avoid vagueness.
Avoid chronologies.
Use specific/concrete language – with a detail, irony and/or humor.
Attribution is essential but not necessarily in the lead.
(use short attributions where they are required: newspaper reports said,
“the NY Times reported that…”, “sources tell us”,

DON’T GET CUTE / AVOID GENTEELISMS

Political leaders are forced from office, not booted or fired.
Say poor, not disadvantaged
Say lazy, not underachiever
Say old or aged, not senior citizens
Mentally ill, not disturbed
Undertaker not mortician, burial not internment
Avoid overwriting, just speak plainly and clearly.
No Abstractions and euphemisms (unless to do otherwise would be
to pander)

USE PLAIN ATTRIBUTIVES

said, continued, added – OK
asserted, stated, declared, remarked, commented, observed, revealed – OVERUSED
insisted, maintained, complained, cautioned, explained, recalled, predicted – NOT OK
pointed out, noted, warned, charged, claimed – BAD
use changes or revisions (law) not reforms
use acknowledged not admitted

QUOTES

Add living voices – provide significant passages, even when tedious (use subsequent
grafs to flesh out a quote in the lead)
Use quotes to support third person statements in the lead
Set off controversial material, legal issues, etc.
Delimit important distinctions – quote tricky passages.
Avoid excessive parenthetical comments (explanations) in quotes.
Avoid ellipsis – if the quote is unworkable, paraphrase.
Don’t over attribute quote – plant attribution at the beginning or end
Avoid fragmentary quotes of unremarkable words.
Avoid making speeches when asking questions.
Keep attributions simple, avoid overextended IDs.
Tread lightly but band-aids are allowed: fixing pronouns or spelling out ’cause (etc)
Paraphrase when in doubt.
Use expletives when they are critical to the story.
Avoid making people look foolish when they have innocently misspoken.
Avoid double attribution: he said he would do x about what he called y.

COLOR

Rely on hard particulars – small details that are revealing but go unnoticed by most.
(Herbert Hoover had a cup of sharpened pencils – with the erasers worn down on each).
Use descriptive verbs (clamps his lips, narrows his eyes, stares transfixed, white
knuckle grip, etc.) Don’t overdo it but paint a picture with small, salient details.

Avoid cliches: glaring omission, hammer out, ready and willing…
Avoid strained metaphors, keep it simple and plausible.
Avoid mixed metaphors: x is the perfect storm and the latest chapter (ouch)
Avoid personification: assigning human traits to winter, destiny, etc.
Use humor sparingly.

** When in doubt, strike it out. **

FEATURES

Focus in on an actor in the drama
News begins with an event but features start with an idea (RNC, El Barrio)
Start reporting/interviewing with an open mind.
Keep open until you know you have the right theme.
If you have three anecdotes regarding a subject, use the best ONE
Tell the story chronologically, it makes for simpler, clearer, prose
Use “perpendicular” pronouns (asides) in third person accounts sparingly
Don’t crowd a profile with excess bio detail, leave that for the obit

USAGE

Gender: use neutral/plural pronouns (all, babies, people, reporters, etc)
Sentences can end in prepositions to avoid stilted language
Avoid ANDS and BUTS
Don’t use “And/or” – or “if any” (legalese)
Avoid subjunctives (“as he WOULD later say” -> he said later)
Use dashes sparingly, to inject parenthetical matter, not to replace commas
Avoid “etc”, “among others”, “and similar x” -> use a simple series:
“x,y,z.” The commas and trailing dot imply an incomplete list.
With numbers, be precise. Use a range [x .. y] not “more” or “less”
Use “at least” or “over” rather than “about”
Use “that” where needed for clarity:
He said THAT years ago x did y
Avoid procedural detail, get to the point.

COMMON ERRORS

Don’t use an before h – use a
Avoid “ad hoc”
An antiques store sells antique objects
Use split or division, not dichotomy
Dilemma – must off two choices (not just be a predicament)
Disinterested means disppasionate, not uninterested
Exit should not be used as a verb (Please exit the plane)
Expect, not anticipate (unless action is involved)
Farther means literal distance, Further means metaphoric
light beer has Fewer (number/amt) calories not Less (quantity) calories
Fewer modifies a plural noun, Less modifies a singular noun
Flaunt the imperfection, flout the rules
Fortunate means good, fortuitous means by accident or chance
Founder means break down, Flounder means move clumsily
From x To y: use as diverse as: x, y, and z
Infer means to deduce, Imply means to insinuate
Jurist is a legal scholar, not a judge
Media is plural – the Media are …
Pragmatic: to use an approach regardless of ideology
Practical: to be handy
Reason Why – the reason why I did x is redundant
Self-Confessed is redundant

CLICHES

Use “mixed feelings” not ambivalent
Don’t use “bottom line”
Use inhibiting, restrictive, etc – not “chilling effect”
Avoid overuse of term “community”
Use notion, idea, scheme, not CONCEPT
Use argument, scuffle, shouting match, shoving NOT confrontation
Defining Moment is a bad cliche
Pursuit of Excellence
Explain not Explicate
use ‘have a say/voice’ not have Input
Avoid Icon, Innovative, Kudos (singular), Legendary, Lifestyle,
use goal not Objective
use choice not Option
use see, understand, grasp not Perceive
use also, moreover .. not Plus
Prestigious/Coveted – Nobel Prize needs no modifier
Avoid Relate To, Remains To Be Seen
say repeat or duplicate not Replicate
Scenario
Skills – say mastering mathematics not mastering math skills
Sophisticated, Stance (use attitude, position)
Supportive Of – use supported
Surrogate – use representative, stand-in
Relaxing Tension
Thrust – use gist, drift, tenor
Utilize – use
Viable – capable of survival, use workable, sound, practical
Whence/Albeit/Wherein/Thus – archaic -> Hence – still used
Workaholic
Youth – use children, teenagers, adolescents

DATELINES

Datelines on stories should contain a city name, entirely in caps, followed by the name of the state, county or territory.

DOMESTIC DATELINES
No state with the following:

ATLANTA         MILWAUKEE
BALTIMORE       MINNEAPOLIS
BOSTON          NEW ORLEANS
CHICAGO         NEW YORK
CINCINNATI      OKLAHOMA CITY
CLEVELAND       PHILADELPHIA
DALLAS          PHOENIX
DENVER          PITTSBURGH
DETROIT         ST. LOUIS
HONOLULU        SALT LAKE CITY
HOUSTON         SAN ANTONIO
INDIANAPOLIS    SAN DIEGO
LAS VEGAS       SAN FRANCISCO
LOS ANGELES     SEATTLE
MIAMI           WASHINGTON

Stories from all other U.S. cities should have both the city and state name in the dateline, including KANSAS CITY, Mo. and KANSAS CITY, Kan. Spell out Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Ohio, Texas and Utah. Abbreviate others per AP stylebook. Use Hawaii on all cities outside Honolulu. Specify the island in the text if needed.

             STATE ABBREVIATIONS (AP)

Alabama        Ala.             Montana         Mont.
Alaska         Alaska           Nebraska        Neb.
Arizona        Ariz.            Nevada          Nev.
Arkansas       Ark.             New Hampshire   N.H.
California     Calif.           New Jersey      N.J.
Colorado       Colo             New Mexico      N.M.
Connecticut    Conn.            New York        N.Y.
Delaware       Del.             North Carolina  N.C.
Florida        Fla.             North Dakota    N.D.
Georgia        Ga.              Ohio            Ohio
Hawaii         Hawaii           Oklahoma        Okla.
Idaho          Idaho            Oregon          Ore.
Illinois       Ill.             Pennsylvania    Pa.
Indiana        Ind.             Rhode Island    R.I.
Iowa           Iowa             South Carolina  S.C.
Kansas         Kan.             South Dakota    S.D.
Kentucky       Ky.              Tennessee       Tenn.
Louisiana      La.              Texas           Texas
Maine          Maine            Utah            Utah
Maryland       Md.              Vermont         Vt.
Massachusetts  Mass.            Virginia        Va.
Michigan       Mich.            Washington      Wash.
Minnesota      Minn.            West Virginia   W.Va.
Mississippi    Miss.            Wisconsin       Wis.
Missouri       Mo.              Wyoming         Wyo.
                Washington DC  D.C.
Posted by Next Left Notes - April 13, 2004 | Stylebook

1 — nextleftnotes.org


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Posted by Next Left Notes - April 7, 2004 | Stylebook
Letter Phonetic Letter Letter Phonetic Letter
A Alpha N November
B Bravo O Oscar
C Charlie P Papa
D Delta Q Quebec
E Echo R Romeo
F Foxtrot S Sierra
G Golf T Tango
H Hotel U Uniform
I India V Victor
J Juliet W Whiskey
K Kilo X X-ray
L Lima Y Yankee
M Mike Z Zulu
Posted by Next Left Notes - | Stylebook

Datelines

Datelines on stories should contain a city name, entirely in capital letters, followed in most cases by the name of the state, county or territory where the city is located.

DOMESTIC DATELINES. No state with the following:

ATLANTA MILWAUKEE
BALTIMORE MINNEAPOLIS
BOSTON NEW ORLEANS
CHICAGO NEW YORK
CINCINNATI OKLAHOMA CITY
CLEVELAND PHILADELPHIA
DALLAS PHOENIX
DENVER PITTSBURGH
DETROIT ST. LOUIS
HONOLULU SALT LAKE CITY
HOUSTON SAN ANTONIO
INDIANAPOLIS SAN DIEGO
LAS VEGAS SAN FRANCISCO
LOS ANGELES SEATTLE
MIAMI WASHINGTON

Stories from all other U.S. cities should have both the city and state name in the dateline, including KANSAS CITY, Mo. and KANSAS CITY, Kan.

Spell out Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Ohio, Texas and Utah. Abbreviate others per AP stylebook.

Use Hawaii on all cities outside Honolulu. Specify the island in the text if needed.

Posted by Next Left Notes - | Stylebook

State Abbreviations


State Name Chicago Manual
of Style
AP
Style Manual
Zip Codes
Alabama Ala. Ala. AL
Alaska     AK
Arizona Ariz. Ariz. AZ
Arkansas Ark. Ark. AR
California Calif. Calif. CA
Colorado Colo. Colo. CO
Connecticut Conn. Conn. CT
Delaware Del. Del. DE
Washington, D.C. D.C. D.C. DC
Florida Fla. Fla. FL
Georgia Ga. Ga. GA
Hawaii     HI
Idaho     ID
Illinois Ill. Ill. IL
Indiana Ind. Ind. IN
Iowa     IA
Kansas Kans. Kan. KS
Kentucky Ky. Ky. KY
Louisiana La. La. LA
Maine     ME
Maryland Md. Md. MD
Massachusetts Mass. Mass. MA
Michigan Mich. Mich. MI
Minnesota Minn. Minn. MN
Mississippi Miss. Miss. MS
Missouri Mo. Mo. MO
Montana Mont. Mont. MT
Nebraska Nebr. Neb. NE
Nevada Nev. Nev. NV
New Hampshire N.H. N.H. NH
New Jersey N.J. N.J. NJ
New Mexico N.Mex. N.M. NM
New York N.Y. N.Y. NY
North Carolina N.C. N.C. NC
North Dakota N.Dak. N.D. ND
Ohio     OH
Oklahoma Okla. Okla. OK
Oregon Ore. or Oreg. Ore. OR
Pennsylvania Pa. Pa. PA
Rhode Island R.I. R.I. RI
South Carolina S.C. S.C. SC
South Dakota S.Dak. S.D. SD
Tennessee Tenn. Tenn. TN
Texas Tex.   TX
Utah     UT
Vermont Vt. Vt. VT
Virginia Va. Va. VA
Washington Wash. Wash. WA
West Virginia W.Va. W.Va. WV
Wisconsin Wis. or Wisc. Wis. WI
Wyoming Wyo. Wyo. WY