LANGUAGE

Finish up this quiz - affect? effect? - with some rules and suggestions that could help out the next time your - make that "you're" - scratching your head.

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If reporters made style mistakes in alphabetical order, teaching the AP Stylebook in alphabetical order might be the way to go. A better way might be to teach the content by category.

DOWNLOADS: AP Stylebook category list AP Stylebook exercise Rick Kenney's "Style Stars" GIFT

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Grammar is great fun all by itself, but add a little competition and you've got yourself a good old time.

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You tell your students to use words that everyone understands, to write concisely and avoid puffing up their writing. If they don't quite get it, let George Carlin help you make the point.

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Newswatch at the Center for Integration and Improvement of Journalism turned its diversity guide into a group effort, enlisting the help of several associations.

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The South Asian Journalists Association calls its stylebook a work in progress, and more of a reminder than a reference work. Both descriptions don't do it justice.

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The National Lesbian & Gay Journalist Association's stylebook supplement on LGBT issues includes the explanation that LGBT is an acronym for “lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender.” And note that the word is "transgender," not "transgendered."

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GLAAD's Media Reference Guide starts with an introduction to "fair, accurate & inclusive coverage" and continues through eight more comprehensive sections. Not only does the guide cover offensive terminology to avoid but it also includes what other styles guides have to say.

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Lynn Klyde-Silverstein, the crank behind this blog, teaches journalism at the University of Northern Colorado. One of the reasons she started the blog, she writes, is to have "a healthy outlet for my anger when I encounter what I consider the inappropriate use of our magnificent language." Her blog's motto is one of the best raison d'ętres on the Web: "Because some things are just too important to get wrong."

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Historian Doug Harper, the site's creator, calls himself the "second-most-famous assistant city editor ever to work at the West Chester, Pa., Daily Local News." The first-most-famous, he says, was Dave Barry.

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When students wonder what's the big deal about tiny little commas, show 'em this article. Acccording to the Globe and Mail, the placement of a comma in a contract may cost Rogers Communications Inc. very big bucks.

DOWNLOADS: Comma quirk irks Rogers (PDF)

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Ever wonder what the most commonly used word is? Conversely, what words rarely get their day to shine? WordCount is an interactive presentation of the 86,800 most frequently used words. The No. 1 word is easy: the. You'll have to check out No. 86,800 for yourself.

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As Don Munday notes, copy editors write poetry every day they write headlines: They try to find just the right word in just the right space to send just the right message. Terry Godbey, a copy editor at the Orlando Sentinel, has turned her interest in poetry into a second career.

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Journalism and poetry go back a long way together. Some of our greatest poets began their writing career - or supplemented their income - as journalists. Carl Sandburg was a reporter for the Chicago Daily News, among other papers; Walt Whitman was a printer before becoming an editor at several newspapers; and Dylan Thomas worked as a freelance reporter for several years after being fired from the South Wales Evening Post.

Today, many journalists write poetry on the side. And Don Munday, a copy editor at The Kansas City Star, gets his published every Monday.

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Tom Dickson's objectives: "At the completion of the course, the student is expected to have achieved the following competencies: a knowledge of newsroom operations and responsibilities of copy editors; the ability to edit copy using Associated Press style rules; the ability to write appropriate headlines that fit the allotted space; the ability to use informational graphics; the ability to crop and size photographs; the ability to use proper layout and design techniques; and the ability to use computer programs for editing and layout."

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John Russial's "Cyberjournalism" objectives: "To critically examine issues in web publishing, such as writing, editing and design; to produce an original web site, applying lessons learned in the class; to learn some of the techniques used in web publishing."

The Web site produced by his students is Oregon Lifestyle.

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Malcolm Gibson's objectives: "The obvious objective is to improve your editing skills and to prepare you for a productive and profitable career in journalism. In addition, the class is designed to: Develop your vocabulary and reading skills. ...; develop your critical-thinking skills ...; develop a strong sense of story development and management; develop a good working environment and the ability to collaborate effectively; develop strong leadership skills and a strong sense of professionalism; understand and apply First Amendment principles and the law; demonstrate an understanding of the diversity of groups in a global society; work ethically in pursuit of truth, accuracy, fairness and diversity; critically evaluate your own work and that of others in all relevant areas; provide you an opportunity to develop the skills necessary for a successful career as a communicator." The site is a sequel to Wonderful World of Editing.

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This syllabus bank for editing courses was created for AEJMC's Newspaper Division. It has two components: an index of links to online course syllabi and a file of some that are loaded at the site. If you would like to contribute your syllabus, send the URL or an attachment to Frank Fee.

List All Study Tools of the Trade Tagged with: Language, Teaching

The next time your students suggest that only persnickety copy editors care about the fine points of language, let 'em listen while NPR's Melissa Block interviews a federal judge who threw the book at attorneys who commit sloppy writing.

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These quizzes range from improving your GRE score to learning tech terms.

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