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Archive for the ‘Advice’ Category

You can quote me on this….

Posted by kathyspurlock on March 22, 2010

A note from Town Talk Executive Editor Paul Carty:


We continue to see headlines on the Web site with this incorrect punctuation:

‘Our time to shine:’ Cities rely on festivals to grow, pull in dollars

The closing quote mark should be inside the colon:

‘Our time to shine’: Cities rely on festivals to grow, pull in dollars

Please remind staffers and include this in the CPC blog.

Thanks. … pc


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It’s not an opinion … it’s a style for opinions

Posted by JeffB65 on February 6, 2010

The following is from Cynthia Jardon, The Town Talk’s editorial page editor, in regards to their editorial page styles. Please keep this in mind as you are proofing, editing or building these pages. Thanks.

  • All columns are ragged right on Town Talk OPED pages.
  • Views from Elsewhere, Our View and Letters are not.

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Keeping tabs on the census

Posted by JeffB65 on February 2, 2010

Census is a word that’s going to start showing up in copy and on pages a lot this year. Unfortunately, it’s often improperly capitalized when it shouldn’t be.

According to AP style, the word should be capitalized only in specific references to the U.S. Census Bureau. Lowercase it other uses: The census data was released Tuesday.

And on the same topic, if you are working with content and need to check facts, go the Census Web site. There are lots of specific reference materials, including downloadable maps.

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There’s gold in this post

Posted by JeffB65 on February 2, 2010

Saints kicker Garrett Hartley (5) celebrates after kicking the winning field goal during overtime in the NFC Championship NFL football game in New Orleans on Jan. 24, 2010. AP

With all the coverage of the New Orleans Saints in their first Super Bowl appearance, we have had several instances where copy editors find themselves in need of the proper color gold to match the Saints logo, etc.

The official NFL color is made using your swatches pallett with the following settings:

CMYK: 00, 13, 45, 41

And if you need the official colors for any other NFL team, you can download their National  Football  League  colors PDF to find the team colors you need.

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From the breakfast table

Posted by JeffB65 on January 22, 2010

The following is from Alan Lazarus, former managing editor of The Times ….

Regarding repetitive cutlines:

1. Both cutlines on 11A of The Times Jan. 13 said: “The largest earthquake ever recorded in the area rocked Haiti on Tuesday.”

2.  Two cutlines on 14A of Jan 13 said “has closed the business after 77 years of operation.”  (One had his instead of the.)

Strangely, the headline had “80 years” and the lead had “almost 80 years.”

(It’s so much easier editing from the breakfast table!)


It’s easier to see things from Laz’s position, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be giving each item he mentions the proper attention when we are placing it on the page or proofing the page. Watch for numbers when you are proofing and make sure they match across the board in presentation. If they are in the head, are they supported in the story. If they are in the caption, are they supported in the story. Cross-check and double-check should be the action prompted by any number in a headline or caption.

And the repetitive captions, I’ ve covered before. Look at them closely and make sure they aren’t the same as any other on the page. Take time and make each one special.


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Three steps to better copy reading

Posted by kathyspurlock on December 29, 2009

As I proof pages in the Content Production Center, I often see issues that should be caught by copy editors before the proofing stage.

So, I’m not assuming everybody knows how to read copy. Here’s a quick guide:

1. Read the content as a reader. Does everything make sense? Is it free of jargon, slang and “insider” talk? Do you understand the story? I’ve always imagined my grandmother sitting at her breakfast table with the newspaper — would she understand this story? 

2. Read the content as an editor. Correct errors in spelling, AP style and grammar.

3. Read the story one more time for both content and context. You should be using active spell check, and check spellings. Also check every name to make sure the first reference to someone didn’t get edited out in the editing process.

If you do these three things with every story before you proof it, your pages will be much cleaner and you’ll have fewer errors.

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Tips from Ben

Posted by kathyspurlock on November 30, 2009

Ben Kelly of The Clarion-Ledger provided some excellent training for the CPC staff recently. Here are some useful web sites he included in his presentation:

• The Slot:


CJR’s Language Corner


• Guide to Grammar and Style


• Common English errors


• The Cliché Finder



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Staying fresh for the best….

Posted by kathyspurlock on November 27, 2009

It’s the nature of the newspaper business that the most important work of the day passes before eyes that have been sitting and staring at a computer screen for many hours.

Get up and walk around occasionally, and get the blood flowing back to your brain.  You can even do a little yoga at your workstation:

14 exercises in one easy-to-print version you can buy in PDF format.

Pictures and instructions; includes Yoga for your eyes.

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Holiday prep

Posted by JeffB65 on November 23, 2009

A few points to keep in mind as we work on holiday papers:

Deadlines: There will be earlier deadlines on all our products Wednesday.

  • Shreveport — 4:30 PM
  • Monroe — 5:30 PM
  • Opelousas — 6:40 PM
  • Alexandria — 8:00 PM
  • Lafayette — 10:40 PM

Price: All Thursday products should have the same price as a Sunday edition. Double-check this when you are building the fronts and when you are proofing the fronts.

Barcodes (or UPC graphic): Whatever it’s called, make sure that the Thursday editions have the barcode graphic for Sunday so that the price will ring up correctly when they are scanned. Watch for this when building the fronts and when proofing them. If you don’t know what this means or how to check it, please ask a supervisor.

Advance page production: Currently, there are a lot of advance pages in production at the same time as daily pages. This requires extra diligence on the part of those building the pages as well as those proofing. Be sure that folios match the content (does the TV grid match the folio for example). Advance sections are usually printed ahead of time, so there are no remakes. Errors on advance run sections that make it through production on this end are errors that can’t be fixed later. We are the last line of defense.

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I’m hearing voices

Posted by kathyspurlock on November 12, 2009

Southerners, in particular, tend to speak in passive voice.

Writers translate that into print.

Not good for keeping readers awake.

Passive voice is technically defined as: A verb form or voice in which the grammatical subject receives the verb’s action.

Clear as mud, right?

Think about: The ball was thrown by Bob.

That’s passive voice.

Active voice is preferred in journalistic writing. It conveys the sense of action and immediacy we need to engage readers in our stories. Subject. Verb. Action! 

That same sentence in active voice: Bob threw the ball.

Shorter. More direct. Preferred.

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