Following these rules means your writing will be better to read and the main blogs will have a consistent feel.
•The average sentence length in your articles should be between 15 and 20 words, as after this they begin to not make sense.
•Should use the active voice, rather than the passive voice. Passive voice is where the object of a sentence appears before the subject, or the subject never appears at all.
◦e.g: Mistakes were made... This is a classic example for a reason - the people who made the mistakes come off as blameless. A good rule of thumb is that if you can add by zombies after the verb in your sentence and it still makes sense, then it needs re-writing. This will usually result in a stronger, punchier sentence, as well as helping to avert the zombie apocalypse.
•Use a lot of paragraph breaks. Nothing turns readers off like clicking a story and seeing an impenetrable wall of text. One to four sentences per paragraph, depending on the type of article - news will be shorter, analysis and opinion longer. Make sure there’s a line between your paragraphs.
•Don’t use cliches - they’re a lazy substitute for actual brainpower. Excise them from your writing (with a flamethrower, if necessary.) •The only excuse is if they’re in a direct quote. Even then, try to find a stronger quote, or paraphrase.
Florid and overwritten phrases:
•Using the most complex and poetic descriptions you can think of isn’t a shortcut to great writing. Too many adjectives slow down your narrative and can make you look pretentious.
•When writing about money, use currency symbols - $, £, €, rather than writing the word “dollars” or “pounds”.
◦Do specify what currency you’re writing about, if it’s not obvious.
•Don’t use % - instead write out per cent. (Except in headlines.)
•Don’t use ‘single quotes’ for speech - use “double quotes”. (Except in headlines.)
•Don’t use ampersands (&) - even in headlines. Same with underscores (_) and @ anywhere that isn’t an email address or Twitter handle.
•Only use the hash symbol if you’re talking about an actual hashtag in your story.This includes the headline.
◦e.g: Fans rallied online using the tag #BackTheBlackCaps on Twitter and Facebook. •Asterisks - * - are used to denote footnotes, though they are also part of some specialist lexicon. Don’t use them for emphasis; instead bold or italicise your text, or better still, rewrite the sentence so your emphasis is clear.
•One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine - written in words.
•10 and higher - written in numerals.
•Very big numbers use a combination.
◦e.g: 3 billion not 3,000,000,000,000 and 7.5 million not 7,500,000 or seven-and-a-half million.
•Contractions like don’t, can’t, there’s, we’re should be used where appropriate, particularly in non-news articles. However, use the full term if it comes at the start of a paragraph.
•These come at the start of quotes, sentences, and with proper nouns.
•Unless the acronym is very common, use the full name the first time, followed by the acronym in brackets. Then use the acronym every occurrence afterward.
◦e.g: NRL or AFL don’t need to be spelled out, but in a story about the Olympics you would use International Olympic Committee (IOC) and then IOC for all other mentions.
•If the acronym isn’t in English, write the English name then the common acronym.
◦e.g: International Automobile Federation (FIA).
•Acronyms are fine in headlines but must be written out in the article.
•An ellipsis is three dots … that is used in news stories to show where you’ve removed text from a quote, and in non-news stories can also be used to indicate a break in your train of thought.
•When used in the middle of a quote, make sure to leave a space either side of the three dots.
•When used to show a break in your train of thought, make sure it is either preceded by or followed by a paragraph break.
◦e.g: I could go outside in the rain to watch two teams of large men roll around in the mud… ...Or, you know, not.
First things first - An apostrophe does not mean “LOOK OUT, THERE’S AN S COMING!” Apostrophes are used for two things:
•Indicating possession. Apostrophes are never used for plurals.
•Contractions: When you cut out some letters from a word, use an apostrophe. e.g: Did not - Didn’t You are - You’re It is - It’s When writing numbers, don’t use an apostrophe between the number and the S, but you should use one to indicate you have shortened the number e.g: Seventies - 70s. 1980s - ‘80s.
•Possession: When the subject which possesses something is a singular, the apostrophe come before the S.
e.g: The halfback’s kicks are good. When the subject which possesses something is a plural, the apostrophe comes after the S.
Exception: If a word is already a plural, like men or women, the apostrophe comes before the S. e.g: Men’s team, Women’s team, Kids’ team Kid is not a plural, so it takes an apostrophe after the S.
Rule of Thumb: Indicate the plural, then add the possessive. Places you never use an apostrophe:
•Pronouns. e.g: His, Hers, Theirs, Yours, Ours, Its. (It’s=It is, ALWAYS.)