Style advice

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Writing resources

Some good books that aim to help you structure your writing and write well are:

  • The Elements Of Style by William Strunk and EB White (Allyn & Bacon, 1999) - classic, concise text on grammar and common errors in English.
  • English For Journalists by Wynford Hicks (Routledge, 2006) - a good, all-round guide. Also try Writing For Journalists by the same author.
  • Essential English by Harold Evans (Pimlico, 2000) - this one is more for the subeditor than the writer, but is an exceptional guide to how writing (particularly news reporting) should be structured.
  • The Art And Craft Of Feature Writing by William Blundell (Plume, 1988) - a lovely, inspirational book suitable if you're drafting a long feature.
  • Compose Yourself by Harry Blamires (Penguin, 2005) - a little repetitive, but it rams home the importance of logic in writing. One to try if you find it hard to express yourself clearly or often have editors asking you what certain sentences mean.
  • "Politics and the English language" in Essays by George Orwell (Penguin Classic, 2000)

How to... make people want to read your writing

  • Make copy active and direct. Use the present tense, use active verbs (rather than passive) and address the reader as `you'.

How to... not be boring

  • Get straight to the point - avoid lengthy preambles. Be precise and concise and write as you would speak.

How to... be - or appear - fair and professional

  • Justify scores. If something gets 8/10, explain why it didn't get 10/10. 5/10 is a strict average for reviews.
  • Don't dwell on one single aspect of a product for the whole review.

If you only do one thing here, ensure your work arrives without returns or line breaks at the end of every line of text. Why? Because removing them takes ages.

  • You should avoid writing as `I' unless it is a tutorial.
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