Monday, March 31, 2008

A couple of style points to remember

We have a couple of new style mistakes in this this week's post. And we were doing so well.

Example one:
Raw copy, wrong--"emerging as frontrunners"
It should be--"emerging as front-runners"
This isn't in the AP Stylebook; it's found in Webster's NewWorld Third.

Example two:
Raw copy, wrong--"donuts and coffee"
It should be--"doughnuts and coffee"

Example three:
Raw copy, wrong--"there are a couple changes," "We have a couple things to talk about," "there are a couple immediate things" and "the next couple days."
It should be--"there are a couple of changes," We have a couple of things to talk about," "there are a couple of immediate things" and "the next couple of days."
AP Stylebook says: couple of The of is necessary. Never use a couple tomatoes or a similar phrase. The phrase takes a plural verb in constructions such as: A couple of tomatoes were stolen.

Example four:
Raw copy, wrong--"on his 11-member cabinet"
It should be--"on his 11-member Cabinet"
AP Stylebook: Capitalize references to a specific body of advisers heading executive departments for a president, king, governor, etc. The capital letter distinguishes the word from the common noun meaning cupboard, which is lowercase.

Example five:
Raw copy, wrong--"a great and well-respected Senator"
It should be--"a great and well-respected senator"

Example six:
Raw copy, wrong--"a Bush Administration budget"
It should be--"a Bush administration budget"

Monday, March 24, 2008

Another week of repeats

It seems I'll always have repeat style mistakes to write about, so here goes.

Example one:
Raw copy, wrong--"well-represented at the capitol"
It should be--"well-represented at the Capitol"
AP Stylebook: Capitalize U.S. Capitol and the Capitol when referring to the building in Washington. Follow the same practice when referring to state capitols. Capital is the city where a seat of government is located. Do not capitalize.

Example two:
Raw copy, wrong--"Fargo-based financial advisor"
It should be--"Fargo-based financial adviser"

Example three:
Raw copy, wrong--"county-wide economic development sales tax"
It should be--"countywide economic development sales tax"
AP Stylebook: -wide No hyphen. Some examples: citywide, nationwide, continentwide, statewide, worldwide, industrywide, countrywide.

Example four:
Raw copy, wrong--"take care of our Guardsmen"
It should be--"take care of our guardsmen"
AP Stylebook: Capitalize when referring to U.S or state-level forces, or foreign forces when that is the formal name: the National Guard, the Guard, the Iowa National Guard, Iowa's National Guard, National Guard troops. When referring to an individual in a National Guard unit, use national Guardsman: He is a National Guardsman. Lowercase guardsman when it stands alone.

Example five:
Raw copy, wrong--"a group of Fargo and Cass County citizens"
It should be--"a group of Fargo and Cass County residents"
AP Stylebook: A citizen is a person who has acquired the full civil rights of a nation either by birth or naturalization. Cities and states do not confer citizenship. To avoid confusion, use resident, not citizen, in referring to inhabitants of states and cities.

Example six:
Raw copy, wrong--"colony north of Hawley, Minn.," referring to action taken by the Clay County Board.
It should be--"colony north of Hawley"
We don't use Minnesota with Clay County. Therefore, we shouldn't use Hawley, Minn., because it's understood that the Clay County board would only take action affecting entities in Clay County.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Signs of progress

It seems as though writers have just about run out of new style mistakes, but there are still plenty of repeat style mistakes. Those are what we'll again be focusing on in this post.

Example one:
Raw copy, wrong--"Dutch Elm Disease"
It should be--"Dutch elm disease"

Example two:
Raw copy, wrong--"helping develop a separate speech and theatre department"
It should be--"helping develop a separate speech and theater department.
Use of the words theater and theatre is an issue Mark Merck wanted me to bring up a few weeks ago. It came up again last week. AP Stylebook says: theater Use this spelling unless the proper name is Theatre: Shubert Theatre. In this area, it's the Fargo Theatre.

Example three:
Raw copy, wrong--"both hotels have large multi-purpose conference rooms"
It should be--"both hotels have large multipurpose conference rooms"
I've already written in several e-mails about the AP style for multi. It doesn't hurt to have a reminder in this post: multi- The rules in prefixes apply, but in general, no hyphen. Some examples: multicolored, multimillion, multilateral, multimillionaire.

Example four:
Raw copy, wrong--"such as text, voicemail and e-mail messages"
It should be--"such as text, voice mail and e-mail messages"

Example five:
Raw copy, wrong--"bought his American coworkers"
It should be--"bought his American co-workers"
AP Stylebook: co- Retain the hyphen when forming nouns, adjectives and verbs that indicate occupation or status: co-author, co-chairman, co-defendent, co-host, co-owner, co-partner, co-pilot, co-signer, co-sponsor, co-star, co-worker.

Example six:
Raw copy, wrong--"employs 68 fulltime and 21 part-time"
It should be--"employs 68 full time and 21 part time"
AP Stylebook: part time, part-time Hyphenate when used as a compound modifier: She works part time. She has a part-time job.

Example seven:
Raw copy, wrong--"recent data suggests"
It should be--"recent data suggest"

Monday, March 10, 2008

No end in sight

I think this blog will be around for quite a while. Why? Because the reporters keep repeating style mistakes.

Today's post will deal with past style mistakes, so let's not waste any time.

Example one:
Raw copy, wrong--"members of the Baby-Boomer generation"
It should be--"members of the baby boomer generation"
AP Stylebook: Lowercase, no hyphen.

Example two:
Raw copy, wrong--"exceed 50 percent of the U.S. workforce"
It should be--"exceed 50 percent of the U.S. work force"
AP Stylebook: Two words.

Example three:
Raw copy, wrong--"said Don Frye of Ottertail Power Company"
It should be--"said Don Frye of Otter Tail Power Co."
OK. I slipped in a new one here. For Otter Tail, it's two words for the power company, the Minnesota county and the river. The Minnesota town of Ottertail is one word. As for Otter Tail Power Co., AP Stylebook says: Use Co. or Cos. when a business uses either word at the end of its proper name: Ford Motor Co., American Broadcasting Cos. Theatrical: Spell out company in names of theatrical organizations: the Martha Graham Dance Company.

Example four:
Raw copy, wrong--"what Congressional leaders propose"
It should be--"what congressional leaders propose"
AP Stylebook: congressional Lowercase unless part of a proper name: congressional salaries, The Congressional Quarterly, the Congressional Record.

Example five:
Raw copy, wrong--"a day-long seminar"
It should be--"a daylong seminar"
These are also one word: monthlong, weeklong, yearlong, etc.

Example six:
Raw copy, wrong--"collections were down 15 to 20 percent" and "parents of 10 to 15 percent"
It should be--"collections were down 15 percent to 20 percent" and "parents of 10 percent to 15 percent"

Example seven:
Raw copy, wrong--"analysis is underway"
It should be--"analysis is under way"

Monday, March 3, 2008

A word here and a word there, and we're writing tighter

Everyone can tighten up their writing; even me - as Rob Beer of fame pointed out months ago in responding to one of my e-mails about writing tighter.

Today's post highlights some examples where reporters could have streamlined their writing by eliminating a word or two. The redundancies aren't calamitous, but everything counts when you're trying to grab and retain readers.

Example one:
Raw copy: "In addition to charging for the cost of cleaning a walk, Moorhead also imposes ... "
Changed to: "In addition to charging for the cost of cleaning a walk, Moorhead imposes ... "
I think we can agree that in addition and also mean the same thing in this sentence, so also is unnecessary.

Example two:
Raw copy: "added 55 new jobs in 2007"
Changed to: "added 55 jobs in 2007"
It stands to reason that if 55 jobs are added, they're new, so the new is unnecessary.

Example three:
Raw copy: "The rest of the addition will be used for more manufacturing space."
Changed to: "The rest of the addition will be used for manufacturing space."
More is unnecessary because the sentence already states that the rest of the addition will be used for manufacturing.

Example four:
Raw copy: "that's currently under construction"
Changed to: "that's under construction"
If it's under construction, it's current.

Example five:
Raw copy: "can take anywhere from two weeks to six months"
Changed to: "can take from two weeks to six months"
Anywhere is unnecessary.