AP Style Rules at a Glance

Periods: They’re often omitted when abbreviating the name of an organization or iconic figure: CIA, FBI, VCU, JFK. Use periods to abbreviate certain titles (Gov., Dr., Sen., Rep., Mr., Ms.); Jr. or Sr. after a name; Co., Corp., Inc.; months in exact dates; St., Ave. or Blvd. in exact addresses; a state name after a […]

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Stop the Clock! Ten Tips for Time-starved Writers

by Jocelyn Green I should have known better. But when the local reporter came to interview me about my newly released novel, Wedded to War, I told her that my kids, ages 3 and 6, would be home with us, but that they “knew how to stay quiet. Can you guess how that interview went? Let’s […]

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Ask the Director: How do I cite statistics?

Dear Director: Can you tell me, how important is it to document statistics presented in articles? Is it enough that the editor has those references, urls, quotes sources in her files? — Per Cent   Dear Per: The answer will vary depending on the publication and the article. If people turn to your publication for academic-quality […]

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Ask the Director: How do I quote poetic Scripture?

Dear Director: I’m writing an article that includes extensive short quotations of Bible verses. When quoting the NKJV or the NIV or another version that prints poetic passages in broken lines, must we follow the same line-by-line presentation when quoting them, or is it permissible to string them out in straight paragraph text? And if […]

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Use Sidebars to Expand Without Overwhelming

by Doug Trouten

People love sidebars. These little morsels of content goodness act as side dishes to go along with the main course of your anchor story, adding useful and interesting material without overwhelming.

Sidebars can increase layout possibilities, especially for a story that is otherwise lacking artwork. Pulling material out of a main story for a sidebar can help trim the main story to a more manageable size. Somehow an 800-word story with three 200-word sidebars seems a lot less intimidating than a 1,400-word story. And if you’re a writer, including a sidebar or two on top of your story at the assigned length can be an effective way to “up-sell” an editor by offering attractive add-ons.

Here are some examples of sidebars you can create to go with a story.


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Ask the Director: How much can I quote without permission?

“Ask Doug” is an advice column by EPA Executive Director Doug Trouten, based on questions he encounters during the course of his duties.

Dear Doug:

How much of an original work can one quote without permission? I think there is a percentage factor involved, but not sure what it is. I’d like to quote most or all of the lyrics to a song in an article to introduce an article about the difference a donation can make for the people who are helped by our ministry, but I wonder if I need to limit myself to a few lines or get permission.

Quote-Unquote


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Ask the Director: What’s an ‘HH’ profile?

“Ask Doug” is an advice column by EPA Executive Director Doug Trouten, based on questions he encounters during the course of his duties.

Dear Doug:

An advertising agency has asked me to send an “HH profile” for my publication. What’s an “HH profile”? Heavenly humor? Holy habits? Hubert Humphrey? Should I be embarrassed for not knowing this?

 

Heavily Humbled

 

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Ask the Director: Do I capitalize pronouns that refer to God?

“Ask Doug” is an advice column by EPA Executive Director Doug Trouten, based on questions he encounters during the course of his duties.

Dear Doug:

Has there been a move away from capitalizing His and He when referring to God in journalism?  And if so, what is the rationale for it?  I’ve heard the Chicago Manual and the AP Style Guide referenced, but who or what is driving the shift? Being a boomer, I grew up with all pronouns capped.  I’ll give you the French pray with the familiar form “tu” instead of “vous” – the more formal address.  But I’m concerned about America’s seeming shift from God’s authority and sovereignty to  “just another god” reference.

Pronoun Ponderer

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Ask the Director: How do I handle multiple submissions in the digital age?

“Ask Doug” is an advice column by EPA Executive Director Doug Trouten, based on questions he encounters during the course of his duties.

Dear Doug:

I’m getting ready to do a big interview, and I’d like to use material from it for stories I would customize for multiple regional publications. It’s not a syndicated column — it’s a feature I’d slightly rework for various markets. If I sell first-rights to one publication, what does that mean for rights in other markets? And now that everybody puts their stories on-line, do “regional” rights even make sense any more?

Multi-Region Gal

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Avoiding ‘Christianese’ in Your Writing

“Christianese” is a language used in the Christian subculture and understood easily only by other practicing Christians. We say we’ve been born again, of talk about being backslidden. We talk about our walk and our quiet time. When you’re talking about the Christian experience, it’s tempting to slip into Christianese – it’s a language with verbal short-cuts to explain some difficult concepts. But if our hope is to communicate effectively with people outside the Christian community, we want to stay away from cliches and figures of speech that they may not understand, or may understand differently than we do.

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