Avoid common writing errors by doing the following:

1. Write in active voice, not passive voice. (Check out Grammar Girl for tips)

2. Put punctuation inside quotations. We are not in GB.

3. Use quotes as gems. If a quote is not special — conveying emotion, or important information from someone important — then paraphrase it. Quotes slow down stories, but used correctly, can propel your article forward.

4. It is the web. Be interactive, have archives, add links. But do not have a “sea of blue.” Link key words.

5. Check AP Style. It is very goofy and sometimes confusing. But most news organizations — online and not — follow some style format. AP is common. You have access to AP style online. Use it.

6. Please don’t err on the big ones: who/whom; which/that; its/it’s; there/their.

7. Organizations are not “they.” Officials, spokesmen, leaders … all are “they.” The FDA is an “it.” If you want to use “they,” say, “Officials at FDA today said … ”

8. Avoid most acronyms anyway. Some are OK, like CIA. But not the made-up acronyms of groups formed just to fight Washington.

9. Check your spelling.

10. Use one thought per paragraph.

11. Be consistent in tense. USUALLY news stories are written in past tense while feature stories are written in present tense.

12. Remember that you attend the School of Communication, not the School of Communications.

More later …

Professor Eisman


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