2 The Writing Process Research! Know who will receive your communication and how to best reach them.This means knowing your:MessagePublicMediumKnowing your:Message: decide what you want to say. If you don’t know what you are trying to say, neither will anyone else.Public: Phrase your message so your public can understand it. That means you need to know your public so you can tailor your message to them.Medium: You need to choose the right medium to reach your audience. The choice of medium determines the way you frame your message.Some media require a more formal writing style than others. For example, blogs are more conversational than press releases.
3 Tips on Writing Well How? Keep most sentences short. BUT, vary sentence length.Avoid too many clauses.Cut out unnecessary words.Use more periods and fewer words.Avoid overwriting.Cut out personal commentary.Avoid long words if possible.Keep your sentence length to roughly 16 words or less.
4 Tips on Writing Well Write clearly. Make what you write interesting. Simplify the complex.Write for a 6th grade readerReading skills varyWhen in doubt, use the readability tool in WordYour book says 20% of the US population reads at or below the 6th grade level and another 27% have reading challenges like dyslexia.READABILITY TOOL on Microsoft Word:In the Word program, go to the tools section at the top of the screen. Under the tools menu, select options.Click on the spelling and grammar tab in the dialogue box that pops up.Click Options.Check the “Show readability statistics” box at the bottom of the open dialogue box.Select OKAfter the program goes through the spelling and grammar check, the readability score should come up.
5 Cut it Out! Cut out excessive words Cut out redundant words (ex. revolutionary, outstanding)Cut out redundant words(ex. young children, ATM machine)Cut out long words if possible
6 Tips on Writing Well Simplify the complex. Give readers only the information they need to know.Don’t use euphemisms.Avoid jargon.Introduce one new idea at a time, in a logical order.Explain technical terms you can’t avoid.Explain the unfamiliar with the familiar.PR practitioners get paid to translate complex ideas into understandable language.This means you need to know your organization inside and out. You also need to know the industry at large and the publics you serve. This means you need to research.Get someone who knows the complex issue read your work to make sure you accurately explained what happened.Don’t overwhelm your readers with more information than what they need to know at the moment. Periphery details can be distracting. (Ex. Don’t go into elaborate details about a manufacturing process to describe a new product unless it is of importance in some way.)Don’t use euphemisms. Don’t substitute “sanitary engineers” when “garbage men” will do. – Your book has a cute little “Doublespeak quiz” that has some funny euphemisms.Only use jargon if your audience will understand it.Use metaphors if they will help you get your point across.
7 Tips on Writing Well Make the main idea stand out. If possible, pretest drafts with intended audiences.Edit, edit, edit!Your book also has a good checklist on page 111.
9 Grammar Tips for good grammar: Read and revise. Spell check misses some errors.Learn the rules, but break them if you need to.
10 Some Basic Grammar Rules Proper NounsOnly capitalize proper nounsCommon NounProper NounsingercookiecityrestaurantLady GagaOreoTuscaloosaPepito’sNouns name people, places, and things. Every noun can further be classified as common or proper. A proper noun has two distinctive features: 1) it will name a specific [usually a one-of-a-kind] item, and 2) it will begin with a capital letter no matter where it occurs in a sentence.
11 Possessive NounsPossessive nouns are used to show possession (owning, or having).Add ‘s to the end of singular noun to make it possessive:dog’s collargirl’s shirtIf a singular common noun ends in an “s”, add ‘sThe boss's temper was legendary among his employees.The word "dog's" is the possessive noun. It tells you that the noun "collar" belongs to the dog. The dog owns, or possesses the collar.Add 's to the end of a singular noun to make it possessive.If a singular common noun ends in s, Chicago and AP handle apostrophes differently. For both styles, if a singular common noun ends in s, add 'sFOR AP STYLE: if the word following the singular common noun ending in s begins with s, add an apostrophe only. (This includes words with s and sh sounds.)
12 Possessive NounsIf a singular proper noun (a name) ends in s, or an s sound, add an apostrophe only.Chris' exam scores were higher than any other students.If a noun is plural in form and ends in an s, add an apostrophe onlyThe dog catcher had to check all of the dogs' tags.It is hard to endure the Marine Corps' style of discipline.
13 Possessive Nouns If a plural noun does not end in s, add 's Many activists in Oregon are concerned with children's rights.Everyone was disappointed with the American media's coverage of the Olympics in Atlanta.If there is joint possession, use the correct possessive for only the possessive closest to the noun.Clinton and Gore's campaign was successful.She was worried about her mother and father's marriage.
14 Some Basic Grammar Rules That vs. WhichThat introduces essential clauses, which introduces nonessential clausesIf you use the word "which" to introduce a phrase or clause, precede it with a comma.Do not precede the word "that" by a comma.Use "which" to introduce non-essential phrases and clauses, which can be eliminated from a sentence without changing its essential meaning (such as in this sentence). See? If you drop the clause "which can be eliminated, etc.," then the remaining sentence still has the same meaning –Use "which" to introduce non-essential phrases and clauses.Use "that" when you want to use a phrase or clause that cannot be removed from a sentence without changing its meaning (such as in this sentence).If you eliminate the essential clause from that sentence, you are left with "Use 'that' when you want to use a phrase or clause." That gives a clearly different meaning than the original sentence, because you know by now that you want to start some phrases and clauses with "which," and thus the sentence is illogical. If this causes you problems, let's talk.Using that is generally better than using which because commas slow readers down.
15 Some Basic Grammar Rules That vs. WhichUse "which" to introduce non-essential phrases and clauses, which can be eliminated from a sentence without changing its essential meaning (such as in this sentence).Use "that" when you want to use a phrase or clause that cannot be removed from a sentence without changing its meaning (such as in this sentence).Ex. The paper that won the award was mine. (tells which one) Vs. The paper, which can be found online, was interesting. (adds only a fact about the paper) Vs. The paper (that) I wrote in class was a winner.Use "which" to introduce non-essential phrases and clauses, which can be eliminated from a sentence without changing its essential meaning (such as in this sentence). See? If you drop the clause "which can be eliminated, etc.," then the remaining sentence still has the same meaning –Use "which" to introduce non-essential phrases and clauses.Use "that" when you want to use a phrase or clause that cannot be removed from a sentence without changing its meaning (such as in this sentence).If you eliminate the essential clause from that sentence, you are left with "Use 'that' when you want to use a phrase or clause." That gives a clearly different meaning than the original sentence, because you know by now that you want to start some phrases and clauses with "which," and thus the sentence is illogical. If this causes you problems, let's talk.Using that is generally better than using which because commas slow readers down.
16 Some Basic Grammar Rules That vs. WhoWho refers to people. That refers to groups or things.Example:Kristen is the one who made this presentation.The Crimson Tide is the team that makes people cry.We go to a school that makes others jealous.The students are the ones who make Alabama so great.
17 Some Basic Grammar Rules Who vs. WhomUse the he/him method to decide which word is correct.he = whohim = whomWho/Whom wrote the letter? He wrote the letter. Therefore, who is correct.For who/whom should I vote? Should I vote for him? Therefore, whom is correct.
18 Some Basic Grammar Rules Subject-Verb AgreementHelps avoid confusionWords that intervene between subject and verb do not affect the number of the verb.Ex. Growing vegetables is interesting. Vs. Growing vegetables are interesting.
19 Some Basic Grammar Rules Subject-Verb AgreementUse a singular verb form after:Each (is)Either (is)EveryoneEverybodyNeitherNobodySomeone
20 Some Basic Grammar Rules I vs. MeIf John and (I or me?) get married, we'll have two kids.If me get married? NOIf I get married? YESTherefore, If John and I get married, we'll have two kids.A very easy way to decide whether to use I or me: try out the sentence with just I or me (or if you need a plural, we or us - "we" is equivalent to "I" and "us" is equivalent to "me."):And whatever you do, please don't use a subject pronoun and object pronoun together.He and I - correct: "He and I are going to town." Him and me - correct: "She told him and me the truth." Him and I - WRONG He and me - WRONG
21 Some Basic Grammar Rules I vs. MeHe told Tom and (I or me?) to get ready.He told I to get ready? NOHe told me to get ready? YESTherefore, He told Tom and me to get ready.A very easy way to decide whether to use I or me: try out the sentence with just I or me (or if you need a plural, we or us - "we" is equivalent to "I" and "us" is equivalent to "me."):If John and (I or me?) get married, we'll have two kids. If me get married? NO If I get married? YES Therefore, If John and I get married, we'll have two kids.And whatever you do, please don't use a subject pronoun and object pronoun together.He and I - correct: "He and I are going to town." Him and me - correct: "She told him and me the truth." Him and I - WRONG He and me - WRONG
22 Some Basic Grammar Rules CommasLimit the use of commasNon-restrictive clauses that don’t change the meaning of the sentence should be set off by commas (Ex. The celebrity, who was battling addiction, finally went to rehab.)Restrictive clauses that change the meaning of the sentence if left out, are not set off by commas. (Ex. Fans who show up early win a prize.)Don’t set off short titles by commas. (Ex. Vice president Dick Cheney did not run in the 2008 election.)Punctuation helps make meaning clearUse commas only if they are necessary to avoid confusion
23 Some Basic Grammar Rules Quotation marks:Periods and commas belong inside quotation marksExclamation points and question marks can be placed according to the sense of the sentence.Ex. Did you see “The Daily Show”? vs. She said, “Where’s the beef?”Ex. My thought was, “Who cares?” vs. What company’s slogan is “We care”?
24 Breaking Grammar Rules You don’t always have to use the active voice.Sometimes you should split infinitives. (Ex. I can’t bring myself to really like vampire movies. Vs. I can’t bring myself really to like vampire movies.)It’s okay to end a sentence in a preposition if you want to.Sometimes the passive voice sounds better.Still, you must know the rules of grammar before you should break it.Rules should only be broken when doing so will make your writing clearer, more natural and easier to understand.
25 Commonly Confused Words All rightAlternate vs. AlternativeAmong vs. BetweenAs yet and As to whetherDataDisinterestedEffect vs. AffectFarther vs. FurtherFlammableGratuitousIrregardlessLayNauseous vs. NauseatedOneSecondly, thirdlyShall vs. WillThey, he or sheUniqueUtilizeA lotTowardAll right – two words, meaning “okay”Alternate vs. Alternative – an alternate is a substitute, an alternative connotes a matter of choice not present in alternateAmong vs. between: When more than two things or persons are involved, among is usually called for: Ex. “The money was divided among the four players.” When, more than two are involved, but each person is considered individually, between is preferred: Ex. “An agreement was made between the six players.”As yet and As to whether – cut off the “as” for bothData is the plural form of datum, but is commonly used now as singular as wellDisinterested – means impartial, not uninterestedEffect is a noun, meaning “a result” - Affect is a verb which means “to influence”Farther serves best as a distance word (ex. I can throw farther than you.) Further is a time or quantity word (ex. Let’s discuss this matter further.)Flammable is the oddly shortened version of the word “inflammable,” which actually means combustible, but somewhere along the line people got confused about “inflammable” so now you see “flammable” on trucks and products. Use inflammable if your audience is a more learned one.Gratuitous – means “unearned” or “unwarranted”There’s no such word as irregardless, use regardlessLay- Not as tricky as it might seem. The way I remember the difference is that "lay," in the present tense, requires an object; in other words you can only "lay" something. The word "lie" in the present tense means recline on a horizontal plane. Examples in the present tense: I lay the book on the table. Now it lies there. In the past tense, lay becomes laid, and lie becomes lay. Examples: I laid the book on the table yesterday. It lay there for several hours before my brother picked it up.Remember, you lie down, but you lay an object down.Nauseous means “sickening to contemplate.” Nauseated means “sick to the stomach.” When you feel sick, you do not feel nauseous, you feel nauseated. You can only say you feel nauseous if you think you are making others feel nauseated.One is not to be followed by his or her as in (ex. One should watch his or her mouth.) Rather, it should be (Ex. One should watch one’s mouth.)Do not prettify numbers with “ly” say second, third and so onShall indicates your belief that you shall do something in the future, Will indicates your intention or consent to do so.They, he or she – Do not use “they” with the antecedents each, each one, everybody, every one, many a man – use the singular nouns he or she (ex. Everyone in this class is brilliant because she is at the University of Alabama.)Unique means “without like or equal” so there are no degrees of uniqueness (i.e. there is no such thing as “the most unique earrings” they are just “unique earrings”Instead of saying “utilize” just say “use”Toward does not have an “s” on the end
26 AP Style AP Style is used by most print journalism organizations While publications differ, most use a style similar to AP StyleWriting with AP Style will give your piece a better chance of being picked up by the pressOnly about 10% of the rules in the style book are used 90% of the time
27 AP Style Common AP Style Errors: When in doubt, check it out. DatelinesDatesComma before “and” in a list of itemsTitles after names (should be lowercase)When in doubt, check it out.AP Style quick reference handouts
28 Some Resources Grammar Girl AP Style on Twitter Just for fun: Unnecessary quotesFunny typosCheck out the AP style punctuation guide for more guidance too.