Journalistic Writing Resources
1. AP Style
The Associated Press is a news syndicate, a company with reporters all over the world that sells their stories to member newspapers. Because they have so many reporters, they pioneered the way of making sure their copy was consistent. Today, the AP Stylebook and its rules are used by most major news agencies in the U.S.
Please note: AP style often conflicts with other style you may be familiar with (e.g. MLA). Use AP style in consumer publications such as newspapers, magazines and yearbooks.
Click for the guidelines most high school journalists should know.
2. Writing in Active Voice
To a journalist, word count is important. Using active voice in writing requires fewer words, which is a blessing when they are trying to include as much information as possible. (It's the same as crafting the perfect tweet.) In order to write clear, concise sentences, journalists strive to use active voice when writing. For example, "John threw the ball" is preferable to "The ball was thrown by John."
3. Using Action Verbs Instead of "To-Be" Verbs
Students don't have to eliminate them, just use fewer of them. Writers don't want every sentence to start out with, "He was, They were, She is..." It's just boring. Here are a few tips on how to reduce the use of "to-be" verbs.
"I really think that being a teenager in Austin right now is really special," senior Jane Smith said.
"To avoid the seasonal flu, it's important that all family members get a flu shot as soon as the season hits," said Dr. John Smith, director of residency at the Mayo Clinic.
"This year's quarterback is the best we've seen come through this school," said Demo Odems, head football coach for the Liberal Arts and Science Academy.
Paraphrase first sentence
Store Manager Patty Lewis says the key to owning your own business is to be a go-getter. "I thought I would open a store in my later years in life, not when I was 35," she said.
Citing from an article or website
Jay Johnson, writer for Wired Magazine, wrote in his 2012 article, "What Goes Around Comes Around," that the key to making the most out of your recycling program is to make sure you are aware of your city's regulations.
In 2012, the Mayo Clinic published a study determining the number of flu shots that are wasted or defective. Close to 500 million flu shots go unused each flu season.
According to a 2012 study by the Austin Humane Society, 75 percent of Texans own some kind of pet.
What verbs can I use instead of said?
Acceptable verbs and tense for attribution: said, explains, laughs, remembers, recalls -- keep it neutral (no "exclaims," "declares," etc.)
Can I clean up my quote if the readers won't understand what the interviewee meant?
If there is a part of a quote that needs clarification (particularly in the case of a quote that has an ambiguous subject), you can explain what the source meant in brackets.
Example: "Coffeehouse is the social highlight of the season," freshman Elliot Gordon says. "He did a great job planning it, and we had a lot of fun." Who is "he"??? Instead: "Coffeehouse is the social highlight of the season," freshman Elliot Gordon says. "[Snyder] did a great job planning it, and we had a lot of fun."
>> AP Style Practice
>> The Purdue Online Writing Lab's Associated Press Guide
>> The COM Writing Center Quick Associated Press Guide
>> AP Style Flashcards
>> List of Action Verbs
>> AP Stylebook Twitter Feed
>> Fake AP Stylebook Twitter Feed
>> What's New: 2012 AP Stylebook
>> Active & Passive Voice Quiz
>> AP Style Quizzes
>> One space after periods