Janice’s Review Blog

Books and Web sites improve writer’s copy

Posted on: April 3, 2009

As I write and copyedit, I put out the best possible product that I can and help my fellow writers to improve their writing skills.  At Paradise Valley Community College, I take a journalism course, Writing for Online Media, and I serve as the copy editor for the school newspaper, the Puma Press/Lynx.  In addition, I write freelance and take lots of photos.

As I did the copyediting for the April issue of the Puma Press/Lynx, I noticed that many of the students failed to proofread their articles and follow “The Associated Press Stylebook,” so at our meeting I wrote them all a love letter.  I call it a love letter because I didn’t want to seem like an old fuddy duddy giving them heck, but I did want to make them aware of the many resources and references they had at their disposal to improve their writing and prepare them for the real life challenges of writing for other publications.

"The Associated Press Stylebook"

"The Associated Press Stylebook"

“The Associated Press Stylebook” provides most of the information any good journalist needs.  I keep it nearby whether I’m writing a story for publication or copyediting.  The most frequent mistakes I found on students’ stories involved the abbreviations of months, the abbreviations of states and the proper use of quotes with titles of books and movies.  This stylebook also contains additonal sections on such subjects as sports, business, punctuation and media law.  Every serious journalist should invest in the latest copy.

Writers forgot to spell check their stories creating another avoidable problem.  I found that in addition to running Word’s spell checker, Dictionary.com provides a great source for checking word spellings.  The culprits in the students’ stories included words that could be hyphenated, one word or two words; unusual words; and names such as dogs’ breeds and which parts if any are captialized such as Scottish terrier.  Using this Web site allows writers to check the spelling as they write.

"The Elements of Style"

"The Elements of Style"

“The Elements of Style,” allows writers to polish their writing by using the advice contained in this little reference book.  Written by William Strunk Jr. and E. B. White, the author of “Charlotte’s Web,” the book contains Elementary Rules of Usage, Elementary Principles of Composition, A Few Matters of Form, Words and Expressions Commonly Misused and An Approach to Style within its 105 pages.

Two helpful Web sites for the serious writer are Newsroom  101.com, which provides “exercises in grammar, usage and Associated Press Style” and “The Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL).”

Finally, to improve your vocabulary as you contribute to a charitable organization, visit the Web site Free Rice.  The Web site is fun, educational and you earn free rice for those in need.

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3 Responses to "Books and Web sites improve writer’s copy"

Thanks for making these much-needed points, Janice, and for the great job you do as copyeditor.

Thanks for the links !! Keep em coming.

I like your blog. It’s really informative and I can tell you put a lot of time/research into it. Good job. I’m impressed you find the time to read all of these books and then give us the rundown on them. :]

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