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Newswriting tips

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Newswriting tips

  1. 1. Newswriting TipsBoring-but-important advice every reporter should memorize.
  2. 2. Writing Leads Keep leads short. Usually 35 words or fewer. Try to limit leads to one or two sentences. The first 5 – 10 words determine if the lead will be an attention getter. Remember, what happened makes a better story than the fact it did.
  3. 3. The Rest of the Story Vary your sentence lengths. Remember that short paragraphs encourage readers to continue reading. Limit paragraphs to:  60 words or fewer  No more than 10 typeset lines, or  One to three sentences.
  4. 4. The Rest of the Story Paragraphs should generally only contain one idea. Quotes stand alone as their own paragraphs. Do not start a quote ½ way through a paragraph. Avoid introducing new information at the end of a story. Carefully placed transitions guide the reader from one thought to another.
  5. 5. Editing and Style Eliminate words such as when asked and concluded. Omit the word that whenever possible. On first reference, use the person’s first and last name (and title if necessary). On second reference use last name only (no titles). Use spell-checker and the AP Stylebook. Ask for help!
  6. 6. Rules of Grammar KNOW THEM! Know the difference between:  It’s/its; who’s/whose; their/there/they’re
  7. 7. Word Choices Eliminate lazy adverbs, let strong verbs do their jobs.  Instead of the radio played loudly, use the radio blared. Eliminate lazy adjectives, let strong nouns do their jobs.  Instead of gang members created a chaotic scene use gansters created chaos. Use simple words. Don’t send readers to the dictionary.
  8. 8. Word Choices Avoid words that reinforce ethnic, racial, gender or ageist stereotypes. Avoid referring to someone’s ethnicity, race, gender or age unless it is essential for the story. Use he or she instead of he. Respect people with disabilities.
  9. 9. Punctuation When in doubt about using a comma, leave it out. Use an exclamation mark only after brief expletives.  Fire! Run! Goal! If you ever catch yourself overusing a set of punctuation marks, force yourself to stop. Simple sentence structures are always the best.
  10. 10. Punctuation When in doubt about using a comma, leave it out. Use an exclamation mark only after brief expletives.  Fire! Run! Goal! If you ever catch yourself overusing a set of punctuation marks, force yourself to stop. Simple sentence structures are always the best.

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