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Enforcing AP style, active voice, etc.

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Will Hernandez, Feb 27, 2008.

  1. So a couple of days ago the editor at my trade publication had us in on a style meeting. It seems a lot of us, myself included, are not doing a very good job of adhering to the AP style book and the publication's writing style. The editor had been emailing us style breaches but stopped when things were getting better. But apparently they have gotten worse.

    So my question to the editors and copy editors on the board is how do you go about making sure your writers adhere to AP style, etc. I've been studying the AP book a lot more lately. Plus, I've been doing a lot of self-editing, which I know folks on deadline don't always have the luxury of doing. And I've been there plenty of times as a former sportswriter. It's got to be frustrating for a copy editor to see the same style breaches over and over again. As a writer, I get upset when I find them when I read through my own copy. I do like the emails my editor sent, but you can only do that for so long. I think some writers think just let the copy desk worry about it, you should make your copy as clean possible before filing.
  2. captzulu

    captzulu Member

    Perhaps you can compile a periodic list of common style mistakes that are appearing and send that to the writers. Also, if you're editing stories in Word before moving them into pagination, you could try using the "Track Changes" function and send edited versions back to writers at some point. That way, they can see what changed, including the style points.
  3. forever_town

    forever_town Well-Known Member

    If you're talking about a company-wide issue, the only way to approach it is to e-mail the most common -- or the most glaring -- AP style breaches. Individually, you have more freedom to address the chronic mistakes.

    If you type stories in MS Word, there's always the Find-Replace feature... I've used it many times over the years.
  4. awriter

    awriter Active Member

    I think editors sweat too much over style. The printing press is not going to explode just because someone wrote 9 when it should have been spelled out.
  5. So, um, has the lightning struck you yet?
  6. Wow.
  7. wickedwritah

    wickedwritah Guest

    Let me guess, you've spent a grand total of 0 minutes on copy desks in your career.
  8. Tom Petty

    Tom Petty Guest

    respect ... fleeting.
  9. NightOwl

    NightOwl Guest

    Everyone talks about AP style in my newsroom, and the need to adhere to it.

    They all nod their heads, and then they go do their own thing anyway.

    I could cite you chapter and verse, but looks like no one really cares, and even AP can't get the AP style right anymore.

    I stick to it, though. Always, always, always.

    You've got to have rules here. Learn them, live them, teach them.
  10. mike311gd

    mike311gd Active Member

    If I ever see something I write changed to where it doesn't agree with AP style, I am furious. I don't give a shit what the printing press will do or if the readers would notice the difference between "nine" and "9." I will. I spent the time to learn the AP style, and I practice it in whatever I write -- papers for school, stories, message-board posts. I take a lot of pride in it. And, yeah, when I edit, I make a big deal of knowing the style because I feel any other way is pure laziness and an insult to our craft.
  11. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    Adhering to a style is great, obsessing over it is bad.

    I've seen copy editors screw up stories because they just had to fix a comma or a style issue on a proof and so the story doesn't wrap correctly and doesn't end or 2 words fuse together or some such thing.
  12. Frank_Ridgeway

    Frank_Ridgeway Well-Known Member

    I think style should be pretty far down the list of priorities, but since your boss clearly feels the other way, I would listen to him. But in my experience, the onus is on the desk, not the writers, to learn the stylebook.
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