Steve Vittorioso Archive
Writing has always been a passion of mine — from scribbling pretend news stories when I was a child to penning blog posts and bylines as a communications professional. As in sports or music, practice makes perfect.
But we’re all human, so mistakes can certainly occur, especially in this digital age when it seems our keyboards are moving faster than the news cycles. The race to quickly publish is heated, but before distributing, writing needs thorough proofreading. After all, content is currency in public relations, and any grammar flops can disgrace circulated content almost faster than pushing it live.
The Associated Press Stylebook provides a right-hand guide for all writers and answers many questions about proper prose. Following are some common blunders in written content, with the AP Stylebook’s rules to help keep them straight.
In a few short weeks, students across the country will settle into classrooms for another hopefully productive school year. While they might sport the latest fashion and technology trends to stay hip in the halls, here are some back-to-school-related terms from the Associated Press Stylebook to help us writers make the grade:
- academic departments: Lowercase except for words that are proper nouns or adjectives. The marketing department; the department of English.
- ballpoint pen: Proper style for students’ writing instruments.
- bus, buses: Proper style for the transportation vehicles. The verb forms: bus, bused and busing. Add an extra s, and you’re insinuating kissing.
- chapter: Capitalize when used with a numeral in reference to a section of a book or legal code. Always use Arabic figures. Chapter 1, Chapter 20. Lowercase when standing alone. The book chapters are short.
As the world casts its eyes on London for the 2012 Summer Olympics, writers can go for the gold in their prose.
The Associated Press (AP) has published its editorial style guide for the Summer Games, compiling essential terms, spellings and definitions for the XXX Olympiad. Opening Friday, July 27, the London Games will feature 26 sports and 39 disciplines with about 10,500 athletes vying for a total of 2,100 gold, silver and bronze medals.
When watching U.S. swimmers Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte’s aquatic quests or Team USA’s vaults in gymnastics, writers can follow AP’s Olympic terms and usage:
- Olympics or Olympic Games: Always capitalized. There are Summer Olympics and Winter Olympics, or Summer Games and Winter Games.
- Olympics (n.): Always capitalized.
Words, when cobbled into descriptive sentences, can create some of the most striking works of art. These verses wield the power to convey detailed messages, paint vivid images and absorb all readers—while informing audiences.
Mark Ragan, CEO of Ragan Communications (the leading publisher of corporate communications, public relations and leadership development), recently hosted a writing webinar that discussed how communicators can sharpen their prose. At the heart of communications is storytelling, and in order to successfully express narratives, clear writing is the vehicle that turns tangled thoughts into dramatic tales.
Unblemished writing has never been so important during the digital age as newsrooms dwindle and blogs flourish. As a result, brand journalism has spawned, enabling companies to act as media outlets, report their stories and generate engaging content that they can propagate across the Web.
The 2012 Associated Press Stylebook has arrived, containing more than 270 new and updated entries in fashion, broadcast and social media that will help writers perfect their prose.
Before thumbing through the nearly 500-page news writing guide, here are five important updates to the revised edition:
- Hopefully. At the center of debate is AP’s updated definition of “hopefully.” The news service no longer objects to using hopefully as a floating sentence adverb, as in Hopefully, the Boston Celtics will advance to the NBA Finals, allowing the modern usage meaning of it is hoped. Linguists, however, argue that hopefully is one word that waters down writing. They say it’s insignificant and doesn’t strengthen script, while other critics say “it’s a free-floating modifier that isn’t attached to the verb of the sentence, but rather describes a speaker’s attitudes.” Other floating modifiers—sadly, mercifully, thankfully or frankly—are common in English grammar and haven’t sparked discussion.
I’ve been obsessed with words since elementary school. I would constantly write thank-you notes to my grandmother for her homemade cooking, news stories about pretend robbers vandalizing my neighborhood and book reports for English class. My mother wasn’t surprised in the least when I turned my love of writing into a communications career.
When Beth posted about signs of working in public relations, I thought there must be some common threads for us word nerds—individuals who are extremely passionate about grammar and writing. As InkHouse’s resident grammarian, I enjoy perfectly punctuated prose not only because my sixth-grade English teacher stopped awarding me extra-credit points after finding too many “edits for credit,” but because written communication is the heart of PR.
The days are getting warmer, the snow (that never came) may not ever come, graduations and weddings will soon consume our weekends, and the Boston Red Sox are returning to the baseball diamond. Aside from holding a box of tissues tending to allergies, all signs point to spring. Here’s how to write about it in Associated Press style.
Following are some spring-related terms from the AP Stylebook to keep your writing clean:
- alma mater
- alumnus, alumni, alumna, alumnae: Use alumnus (alumni in the plural) when referring to a man who has attended a school. Use alumna (alumnae) when referring to a woman who has attended a school. Use alumni when referring to a group of men and women.
- April Fool’s Day: Correct style of the April 1 event—no joke.
The social networking site’s new Timeline feature, according to AP, should be written as one word and capitalized. For social-media mavens and writing enthusiasts, Facebook is written as Facebook, though often portrayed as facebook or FaceBook. Twitter also has been stylized, with retweet and unfollow securing individual entries.
In addition to social media, economics is also in the news. AP has compiled a list of key financial terms, especially as European Union leaders continue to discuss and propose reforms for the eurozone crisis.
Some interesting listings from the AP style guide:
- bailout: Financial aid for a company or nation unable to meet debt obligations.