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Archive for the ‘Editing’ Category

AP style change

Posted by kathyspurlock on April 16, 2010

The Associated Press is changing its style from “Web site” to “website” to reflect increasingly common usage.

The change is effective at 3 a.m. EDT Saturday, April 17.

A new entry on website has been added to the AP Stylebook Online and will be included in the updated text version, the 2010 AP Stylebook, which will be published next month.

The entry says:

Website: A location on the World Wide Web that maintains one or more pages at a specific address. Also, webcam, webcast and webmaster. But as a short form and in terms with separate words, the Web, Web page and Web feed.

The AP


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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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Dateline Monroe

Posted by kathyspurlock on March 18, 2010

In proofing, I’ve noticed quite a few incorrect datelines lately, particularly on sports and local pages.

The AP Stylebook carries a list of the cities for which no state is required in a dateline. But the editing error I’ve seen most often is the style rule that cities within a state do not carry a state name.

Now, The AP includes a state name for Louisiana towns and cities because the wire goes beyond our borders. We get to edit the “La” out of datelines for all Louisiana cities.

Please watch for those “La” notations and hit delete, delete, delete!

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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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DANGER, Will Robinson!

Posted by kathyspurlock on December 30, 2009

At our house, whenever you really, really, really need to watch for something, we say: DANGER, Will Robinson!

The time to be ULTIMATELY careful will come again starting Friday. Yes, that’s when the year changes. And, as you have trouble remembering to write “2010” on your checks, everyone has that difficulty with dates in the newspaper.

Every dateline, copyright line, etc. must be checked — not just on Jan. 1, but for a couple of weeks until we’ve found all the places that old pesky 2009 is still hiding.

Watch for the year. It’s changing!

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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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Repetition … gets repetitious

Posted by JeffB65 on December 5, 2009

This issue was recently brought to my attention. Fortunately, it’s an easy fix.

Often photographers will be repetitious with information they provide in photo captions because they don’t know which photos will be used and which won’t. Please be aware of this when you are packaging multiple photos from an event on a page.

It’s not good to have captions that repeat phrases or information verbatim multiple times on a page. Please take time to edit them appropriately so they make better sense as a whole package.

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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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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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Ledes, heds, widows and orphans

Posted by kathyspurlock on November 3, 2009

Eric commented one night that someone had called the first paragraph of a news story a “lede.”

I knew the editor on the other end of that instant message meant “lead,” but I couldn’t answer Eric’s question about why we call a lead a “lede.”

Well, now I can.  Journalists used the word “lede” to distinguish it from “lead,” which was used in its melted form to make the raised type that was hand-set into galleys for the “hot type” printing process.

The word’s origin actually is older than modern journalism. Learn more at http://www.randomhouse.com/wotd/index.pperl?date=20001128.

“Hed” instead of “headline” also is a journalism abbreviation that you’ll see sometimes when you are given instructions by a site. 

If you see “widow” or “orphan” marked on a proof, we don’t want any of them around the CPC.

Here’s what that means:

A widow is a paragraph-ending line that falls at the beginning of the following page/column, thus separated from the remainder of the text.

An orphan is a paragraph-opening line that appears by itself at the bottom of a page/column.

There’s also an orphan quote.  This is when one or two words are selectively placed in quotation marks by the writer, but they are usually unnecessary and disrupt the flow of the sentence.  Example: Kathy said it was “great” to have sunshine today.

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