The Orion

Tips for editors

Mark Plenke

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Use the following tips when you edit and write:

Copy Editing

Read everything three times: First to understand, second to edit and third to check for your own copy editing mistakes.

Look at every word and sentence. Double check all headlines, cutlines and pull quotes for accuracy.

Check for the following common copy editing mistakes:
• Unfulfilled promise in a lead.
• Headless snake—because of a missing first reference.
• Striking color—by eliminating the reporter’s creativity in description.

Double check all pronouns. Ask yourself what word is being replaced by the pronoun.
Right: The band played its music.
Wrong: The band played their music. 

Remember that collective nouns such as team, company, band, council, restauraunt, etc. are singular and take a singular pronoun. A team is not a they, if it is awkward to use it as the pronoun, rewrite the sentence.
Right: The band members said they like jazz.
Wrong: The band said they like jazz. 

Style

Use the following tips to avoid common style errors:

Do not use yesterday and tomorrow to refer to days of the week.

Do not use extra zeros for time. Abbreviate and lowercase p.m. and a.m.
Right: 6 p.m.
Right:  tonight
Wrong: 6:00 p.m.
Wrong: 8 p.m. tonight

Do not use st, nd or th with dates.
Right: July 12
Wrong: July 12th 

Capitalize formal titles used before a name.
Right: Mayor Joe Bigtoes
Right: President Bill Clinton
Wrong: He spoke to president Bill Clinton. 

Lowercase titles after a name. Long titles, three words or more, should always go after the name and be set off with a pair of commas.

Right: Sandra Flake, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, spoke at the meeting. 

Lowercase informal titles such as lawyer, farmer, actor, truck driver, etc. 

Use Dr. before names of people with medical or dental degrees only on first reference. Right: Dr. Joe Smith
Wrong: Dr. Smith 

Capitalize formal titles of government agencies.
Right: Chico City Council; the council
Right: Chico Planning Commission; the commission 

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Tips for editors