Tom Gayda Top 50
June 2010 version.
1. There are no commas in series.
At the store, Grayson bought candy, drinks and pretzels.
2. We do not use Mr,, Mrs., Miss or Dr. No courtesy titles.
Editors spent the afternoon interviewing C E Quandt.
3. In high school, we are boys and girls.
The girl’s basketball team won two state championships.
4. All right is two words.
The fire was extinguished quickly. Everyone was all right.
5. The only attribution we use is said. Most times, it comes at the end of the sentence.
“The fire caused no damage,” Alex Peacock said.
6. In time and money, we leave out extra 0’s.
Students needed to pay $4 by 10 a.m.
7. Numbers are tricky.
For the most part, one to nine are written out, 10 and greater appear as numbers.
8. Punctuation is placed inside of quotation marks.
“I miss the class of 2010,” Molly Henry said.
9. Editor-in-chief has hyphens.
Plural is editors-in-chief.
10. Captions should be at least two sentences. The first sentence is in present tense. The second sentence is in past tense.
Members of the show choir, Counterpoints, sing to visiting children. Each year the Counterpoints perform several charity concerts.
11. Headlines and decks should be different.
Secondary information needs to present new material.
12. Don’t do this: National Honor Society (NHS).The first time you use it, write it all out, abbreviate on future references.
13. Or this: NHS (National Honor Society).That looks silly.
14. The Internet is capitalized. Website is one word, not capitalized.
You can surf the web and browse the Internet.
15. Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.
"It is better to be insightful than inciting," Kim Green said.
16. Headlines follow subject/verb agreement.
School passes new policies
17. Space only once after a period. Just like this.
This will not look correct. That is too much space.
18. Keep sentences short. Long sentences are boring.
But don’t write fragments.
19. Do not abbreviate short words.
Fort is not Ft. Texas is not Tex. April is not Apr.
20. We do not use the % sign when we write.
Always spell out percent.
21. There are six picas in an inch.
Most of the math we use in journalism is done using picas.
22. Time uses a.m. and p.m. AM is used with radio stations. Am is a two-letter word.
Classes start at 7:30 a.m. and end at 3 p.m.
23. We don’t use 12 a.m. or 12 p.m.
Instead, use midnight and noon.
24. If a word has two spellings, we use the first alphabetically.
Our adviser has gray hair.
25. The word “that” is often not needed in writing.
This is the first time that I went to lunch. This is the first time I went to lunch. The second one’s better.
26. It’s OK to use contractions.
Don’t worry about what others will say. And you spell “OK” as “OK.”
27. Don’t use rhetorical questions in your writing.
They’re annoying, aren’t they?
28. The editor is the boss.
This person makes the decisions.
29. Deadlines are important.
Don’t miss them.
30. When a number has four or more digits, a comma is needed.
This year, NC has more than 3,400 students.
31. The principal’s name is C E Quandt.
There are no periods, bu there is a space.
32. U.S. is an adjective, United States is a noun.
US is never used.
33. Text in copy should never be bold, underlined or italicized.
These are bad examples.
34. Farther is a physical distance. Further is elongates time.
As Claire walked farther, I read further.
35. People who are graduates get different titles.
Alumni is plural, alumnus is one man, alumna is one woman and alumnae is multiple women.
36. Principal and principle are two different words.
Our principal, C E Quandt, is a man of many principles.
37. North, south, east and west.
I need to travel north to get home. I am from the North.
38. We make NC publications for NC readers.
Most times in our writing, we do not need to mention our school initials.
39. Fewer refers to individual items. Less refers to mass quantities.
I have fewer friends than Ben, and less rice than Cal.
40. When in doubt, consult your staff manual or an AP Stylebook.
There is no excuse for an avoidable error.
41. The only symbol we use in writing is the dollar sign.
Matt owes Chris $5.
42. Only the first word in a headline us capitalized, unless a proper noun.
Colts suffer fourth loss
43. Paragraphs should be kept to one to two sentences each.
Quit writing long paragraphs.
44. Over is a word that relates to positioning.
The senior citizen discount applies to people 60 and older, not 60 and over.
45. Feel means to touch. Believing and thinking is mental.
Emma thought she felt happy, but in fact she believed she was happy. Liz felt the blanket. Jonny thought he saw her.
46. To hold something means to literally have it in your hands.
Student council will not hold a meeting next week. Student council will have a meeting next week.
47. Quotes should begin their own paragraphs.
Use transitions to separate quotes.
48. Always keep all of your notes.
Even when using a tape recorder, always keep your handwritten notes. People often think they have been misquoted. Keep a record of your work.
49. No one’s writing is perfect.
If an editor tells you to make changes to your story, do it.
50. Columns and opinion pieces should show evidence of reporting or research.
It is OK to include your opinion, but back your stuff up with facts.