Wick Communications

Writing with style

In Associated Press on February 1, 2013 at 9:16 am

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My AP Stylebook is 427 pages long and has thousands of style suggestions. I have been in newspapers long enough to know the basics and, over time, have drummed much of the usual style things into my head. If you are reading this, you are probably similarly schooled in the style.

Which is not to say I don’t make mistakes every day.

I am lucky to have Julie Gerth to lean on. She is our copy editor here at the Review. She reads most of the newspaper and magazine copy before it gets in print and catches dozens of spelling and style errors every week. You have to wonder why I don’t catch some of this stuff before it gets to her.

Anyway, she periodically sends me reminders of style mistakes that reach her. She sent me one such list this week. So here, direct from Julie, are a few style things to correct in your own writing. They are somewhat random but also things that you deal with every week too.

(Oh, and remember to click the “Style Tips” tab above for more of the same.)

  • Cafe – Webster’s first spelling is without an accent, so let’s stop putting on the accent unless the business is particular about it. …
  • Commas and periods should not be inside the parentheses with sentence fragments, only if the parens contain a whole independent sentence. This still comes up a lot.
  • Scientific names – (You can always double-check AP on this if you feel unsure.) In binomial Latin species names of plants and animals, the genus name is capitalized, as in Tyrannosaurus rex

Then, in second reference, it’s OK to abbreviate: T. rex.

  • Age – always use numerals – even with infants who are 2 months old, or with things, like the 100-year-old bridge.
  • 3-D – fine for three-dimensional.

— Clay and Julie

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  1. Hmmm … I have my AP book with me all the flipping time – I like to use it in conversations when I want to correct someone … sadly, I still get caught regularly with some things – I’m always second guessing my self – and since I write business and features there are a few different rules that get thrown my way … ugghhh … and yes, PRAISE to the copy editors 🙂 I am a mere writer and without them I would be a sloppy writer 🙂

  2. Thanks for stopping by, Shauna. Agreed: Copy editors are lifesavers who don’t get nearly enough credit.

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