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Improving Grammar for new job

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Leaver?, Jun 27, 2012.

  1. Leaver?

    Leaver? New Member

    Making the move back into the industry, but haven't subbed for a while and I need to brush up on grammar etc.
    Are there any online resources to hand or a list of the most common errors etc found on sportsdesks?
  2. jr/shotglass

    jr/shotglass Well-Known Member


    Worth the $25/year.
  3. Versatile

    Versatile Active Member


    Words on Words by John B. Bremner. It's the seminal book on usage and modern language.
  4. Frank_Ridgeway

    Frank_Ridgeway Well-Known Member

    Here's the method I use. I didn't invent it, someone taught it to me. Start with the A's and B's in the AP and/or in-house stylebook, read one or two chapters, item by item, per night. That will take a few weeks. Repeat every 12 to 18 months.

    Every three to five years or so depending when you think you need to, read Zinsser's "On Writing Well" and Bernstein's "The Careful Writer."

    If you have any of Kenn Finkel's old API sports copy editing seminar handouts, or know someone who does, these are valuable every year or two. But it is possible to take them too literally.

    Lots of good sources out there. Bill Walsh's books are good. Never been much of a Strunk & White guy, but that's not to say they aren't good, just that I'm not obsessive enough to read everything and I tend to "dance with the one that brung ya," using the material that my mentors shoved toward me when I was a kid.
  5. Versatile

    Versatile Active Member

    The Careful Writer is another great suggestion. I've only skimmed it, but I've been meaning to buy it for a few years now. Today might as well be the day.
  6. Stitch

    Stitch Active Member

    You can't go wrong going with this route.


  7. Frank_Ridgeway

    Frank_Ridgeway Well-Known Member

    That said, the cleaning up of language is kind of an autopilot thing once you reach a certain level of experience. What impresses me in a sports copy editor is someone who might not hairsplit on nuances but takes a bigger-picture approach to editing. Factual accuracy -- making sure the final score is correct not only in the lede staff-written game story but in each scoreline of a roundup. Ability to lead a roundup or notebook with the most interesting item and take an inventive but not cryptic angle on the hed. Ability to help the writer, especially an inexperienced one -- work with him/her -- on tone and direction and content. Challenge writing that smoothly and entertainingly says absolutely nothing. Et cetera. As a veteran slot guy, I can live with someone who fails to change "following" to "after" and "which" to "that" and "prior to" to "before," but I want them alert to the factual and conceptual stuff that will attract negative attention from readers, sources and glass offices. Actively seek out factual errors. Was so-and-so really traded in 1999 or was it actually 1998? Show a grasp of the big picture. Is this story saying exactly the same thing we reported yesterday or last week -- do we need to tweak the angle/hed to focus more on what's new?
  8. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    Well put.

    And the most common errors are most likely bad names and factual errors.
  9. SFIND

    SFIND Well-Known Member

    Purdue's OWL website has anything and everything on writing. Here's the grammar section: http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/section/1/5/

    The Elements of Style would be well worth the read for a refresher on grammar.

    Beyond getting an updated stylebook, I'd also suggest getting the AP's new style spell-check plugin for Microsoft Word. I love it.
  10. jr/shotglass

    jr/shotglass Well-Known Member

    It's been said before, but this is the type of slot man every sports desk should have.
  11. JJHHI

    JJHHI Member

    You had me until that/which. The others you mentioned are usage preferences. That/which is grammatical.
  12. Riptide

    Riptide Well-Known Member

    Great post, though "prior to" will always light me up.
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