TEN DOs AND DON’Ts
use ( ) [ ] and … If you need parentheses or brackets
to explain something, rewrite the sentence so that your story is clear
without them. If you need an
ellipsis in a quote to show that you have left out some words, then
rethink the quote. Maybe you
can paraphrase part of it and just quote the most important part.
use rhetorical questions: Tell
your reader what you have learned.
Don’t ask the reader questions. Sometimes simply rephrasing solves
What happens when these offenses are no longer humorous quirks?
INSTEAD: When these offenses stop
being funny, the housing office may let a student change roommates.
read minds. Tell readers only
what you know.
feels that arguments can be solved…
said arguments can be solved.
put your question or your interview in the story.
asked about roommate swaps, she said they are rare.
She said roommate swaps are rare.
put your opinions or judgments in the story. Stick to facts.
the end it was better for her to move.
the end, she moved.
write factoids. These look
like facts but have no real basis.
students are frustrated with their roommates. MANY? Do you have statistics? No…?
can be a source of frustration.
You DO have quotes to support that
write about people doing things, rather than about
the process of requesting a change of roommates requires submitting the reason
for the request to the housing office.
change roommates, students must submit the reason for the request to the
re-read your work and cut out unneeded words. Be ruthless.
have many reasons as to why they wish to change roommates.
INSTEAD: Students change roommates for many reasons.
- DO say
said. It’s easy. It’s fun. It’s cheap.
Use it again and again…
Nobody will mind. Nobody
will notice because said just
disappears on the page. Try it
or commented or went on to say…
pointed out, noted, suggested, claimed, admitted or confessed … unless you
really mean it.
write generalities, introductions or conclusions. Write the facts and quotes that you
gather in your reporting. Put
the new, interesting information high in the story and then back it up
with quotes. When you run out
of facts, stop writing.
Source: Carol Pauli,
Journalism Professor, Marist