Thursday, 18 March 2010

Ina house style

It's not what you do it's the way that you do it. Profound words from Bananarama and The Fun Boy Three - and very true.  Wherever you work you will find there is a house style - a way of saying or writing material.

The BBC has a very good House Style Guide that also gives you a basic grounding in the proper way to write a news story.  Here is an extract looking at the relationship between the writer and the audience:

You have a relationship with the audience, so try to make it a pleasant and productive one. Here are some tips to consider:
• Do not describe news as good, bad, shocking or horrendous. Tell the story and let the listener decide.
• Do not frighten off your audience. One presenter began his programme by declaring that many people thought parliamentary reform was boring, but he was still going to talk about it.
• Do try to get a strong active verb in the first sentence. You want to make an impact and keep people listening.
• Do not start a news report with a question. The audience wants to be informed, not take part in a quiz.
• Do not begin a story with As expected. If your item was predictable and you have nothing new to say, why should the listener or viewer pay attention?
• Be positive. Make assertions wherever possible, and try to avoid negatives. It is more direct to say The plan failed than The plan was not successful.

Despite the above, we are mainly dealing with advice, not rules. The most interesting writing often involves creating something unexpected, and rules tend to get in the way.

If you would like more advice and have a read of all 92 pages click here

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