Write like a pro: use a style guide

Posted by on Mar 28, 2013 in Writing |

How do you write about the person who plays music on the radio or at the club?  Is it DJ, D.J., D. J., deejay or dee-jay? Should there be 3 commas or 4 commas in the list above? Should I have written three and four in the sentence above this one? Should I have written “three” and “four” in the sentence above this one? Is it better to write from 2-5:00 pm or from 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm? Do you write the abbreviations for meters, kilograms, etc. next to the number or leave a space?  100m or 100 m? It’s confusing for everybody, even professional writers.  And for the pros, there is always someone who delights in finding “mistakes” and “exposing” the writers as barely literate children.  I’m sure the same thing happens in your language. The solution for this is the style guide.  Each publication that you read has a set of rules that they declare to be THE RULES.  Many of these rules will be the same for everyone, but sometimes they are particular for the institution.  But the purpose of style guides is not to declare one set of rules to be the only correct set of rules, but to make consistent choices in your writing.  So choose one of the style guides below and stick to it.  If you’ve followed the guide, you don’t have to worry about people telling you where to put your commas. These are all respected English publications written to a high standard: The Economist style guide The Guardian style guide The Telegraph style guide For business writing, why not follow the European Union style guide? The European Union style guide American style guides (sometimes called “stylebooks,” a term I doubt would be permitted in a British English publication) are a for-profit industry, I’m afraid.  All of the major publications’ stylebooks are available for purchase or online subscription only.  You can see a small sample of the Associated Press stylebook in the link below.  You can also try a free 30-day trial of the Chicago Manual of Style: Chicago Manual of Style AP Stylebook FAQs New York Times Manual of Style...

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CAE writing style guide: review

Posted by on Mar 12, 2013 in CAE style guides |

5 of 5, click the buttons to read more about the the different styles of writing you may have to do in the exam: Essay Email/letter  Proposal  Report This is a short summary of some style points to keep in mind when attempting the tasks in the Cambridge English: Advanced writing section. Review Who is the audience? The audience for this question is usually an interested consumer or magazine reader. What is the purpose of the writing? You need to describe something (or some things) and give your opinion. Is it formal? No. Should I use headings or bullet points? You can use headings if you like. How should it start? You want to capture the readers’ interest.  Use a good title and an exciting opening sentence. How should it finish? Clearly state your opinion in the...

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CAE writing style guide: report

Posted by on Mar 12, 2013 in CAE style guides |

Part 4 of 5, you can find the other style guides by clicking here: CAE writing style guides. This is a short summary of some style points to keep in mind when attempting the tasks in the Cambridge English: Advanced writing section. Report Who is the audience? The audience for this question is usually your boss, a professional group, a school administrator or a group of your peers. What is the purpose of the writing? You need to summarise information and make a recommendation in a concise and well-organised manner.  Your target audience usually does not have time to read all the information, so it’s important to use headings and bullet points to help them find what they want. Is it formal? Yes. Should I use headings or bullet points? Yes.  Your target audience wants to quickly find the information they need in order to make their decision. How should it start? “The aim of this report is [paraphrase the relevant information from the prompt].”  This sentence will help you get directly to the substance of the report. How should it finish? Make your...

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CAE writing style guide: letter

Posted by on Mar 12, 2013 in CAE style guides |

Part 2 of 5, you can find the other style guides by clicking here: CAE writing style guides. This is a short summary of some style points to keep in mind when attempting the tasks in the Cambridge English: Advanced writing section. Letter Who is the audience? This will be given in the prompt. What is the purpose of the writing? You are usually giving information or requesting action.  You should be direct and get to the point quickly. Is it formal? This depends on the audience. Should I use headings or bullet points? No. How should it start? “Dear Sir or Madam (if no name is given), I am writing to…”  This is the expected opening of a letter.  First you explain why you are writing, in the next paragraph you explain why you think you should get what you want. How should it finish? You should clearly re-state your recommendation or desired action in your last paragraph.  This is usually followed by a “I am looking forward to…” statement and “Yours faithfully/Yours sincerely,...

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CAE writing style guide: essay

Posted by on Mar 12, 2013 in CAE style guides |

Part 1 of 5, you can find the other style guides by clicking here: CAE writing style guides. This is a short summary of some style points to keep in mind when attempting the tasks in the Cambridge English: Advanced writing section. Essay Who is the audience? The audience is a teacher or professor. What is the purpose of the writing? You need to develop an argument or opinion.  Usually this is done in 5 paragraphs: introduction, reason 1 (with examples), reason 2 (with examples), addressing counter-arguments (with examples), conclusion. Is it formal? Yes. Should I use headings or bullet points? No. How should it start? It’s important to provide a kind of framework for the reader in your opening paragraph.  If you have been asked to give your opinion on something, you should state what your opinion is (or give a hint) at the beginning.  This shows that you have a clear goal in mind and a desired outcome for the reader (to be convinced by your arguments).  Without this, you give the impression that you have just thought about things, and written some things, and you managed to convince yourself at the end.  That is appropriate for a blog or journal entry, but not for an essay for your teacher. How should it finish? You need to clearly state your opinion in your...

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