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Archive for the ‘Tips’ Category

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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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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Are temperatures getting colder … or lower?

Posted by JeffB65 on January 5, 2010

Town Talk Editor Paul Carty reminds us:

“AP style on temperatures is getting higher and lower, not warmer and colder. We’re all over the map on this one.”

He’s correct. If you turn to page 269 of the 2009 version of AP Stylebook, there is an extensive listing on temperatures (page 238 of the 2007 version and I’m sure it exists in other versions as well … just look for temperatures entry). The specific example that he’s referring to follows:

Temperatures get higher or lower, but they don’t get warmer or cooler.

Wrong: Temperatures are expected to warm up in the area Friday.

Right: Temperatures are expected to rise in the area Friday.

We will probably be seeing a lot of weather stories in the next few days about temperatures going one way or the other, so please keep an eye out for it in your copy on your pages or on pages you are proofing.

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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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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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No butts allowed

Posted by JeffB65 on November 9, 2009

While most of the products we work with here in the CPC do have rules between all content on a page, it doesn’t prevent an issue that some call butting heads. While it’s debatable about whether the reader even notices this as an issue or not, it doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t as page designers look at it from another angle. For instance, it probably isn’t the best way to present the information. It’s kind of boring.

And in an effort to avoid butting heads, the most common mistake I’m seeing is putting all the headlines across the entire page so that you end up with this stack of heads across 7, 6 or 5 columns, depending on the publication. It’s not the best choice. Again, it’s kind of dull and uninteresting.

Instead of going this route, think about how you can divide up the page, halving the space vertically and using an art element or a pullout to separate the headlines. Making headlines of differing architecture will create a visually interesting page. So will adding entry points.

Subheads, lede-ins … whatever the site calls them … try to find ways to to call out to and inform the reader about what’s on the page. Don’t just repeat the main headline. Add extra information. And if you see content in the text of the story that would work great as a pullout/breakout, ask the site about creating one from it. They often forget about presentation in the midst of working with reporters and editing copy.



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Tips for copyeditors and others

Posted by bbeene85 on November 3, 2009

THERE IS NO H in WALLOPED.  Wrong here: “… where problems have whalloped the elderly.” (Sept.12)

BATTALION has two T’s and one L.  Wrong in a cutline: “…the 6888th Postal Batallion, but right twice. (Sept. 1

JACK DANIEL’S (with the apostrophe) is the spelling of the whiskey. Wrong here: “… there should be Jack Daniels vinaigrette,” (June 28) and here: “He was drinking Jack Daniels.” (Sept. 13). It is produced by the Jack Daniel Distillery – with no apostrophe.

SELF words are hyphenated: self-confidence, self-respect. Wrong here:  “Who will stand for self determination and liberty…?” (July 3)

TO COMPLIMENT is to PRAISE and was the wrong word here: “The new act will further compliment the 2008 bill….”  (Aug. 3.)  Needed here was complement, to make complete.

COMPLEMENT was the wrong word here: “They are to be complemented on their actions….”  (Aug. 10.)  To be complimented.

TENTATIVE has three T’s. Wrong in this head: “LWFC sets tenative dates for season.” (Aug. 12)

THE AP STYLEBOOK says, “Do not…drop from” in graduated from. Wrong here: “…children who fail to graduate high school.” (May 18.) And here:   “…who

graduated the … Training Academy….”

Laz 9/14/09

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