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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Real-world dictations

Posted by on Mar 25, 2013 in Listening |

If you want to improve your listening (and spelling) skills, try out this site: Listen and Write.  They have taken media from a wide range of sources, found transcripts, and made them into dictation activities.  This means that you can listen to (or watch, many of the sources are on youtube) a news report, an interview, a song, a film trailer or a TV show and then listen to it in “chapters” so you can focus on 5-10 seconds of text at a time.  It’s a great way to practice your listening while following your...

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Documentaries from Australia

Posted by on Mar 11, 2013 in Listening, Reading, Videos |

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation has some fantastic resources online:  Catalyst is a 10 minute documentary programme with transcripts, and Foreign Correspondent is a 30 minute news documentary programme with transcripts.  Both shows have a short introduction before the transcript begins.

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Watch the news in English

Posted by on Mar 11, 2013 in Listening, Reading, Videos |

The news is a great learning resource because you usually already know the context.  Just by looking at a few pictures, you can usually guess what the story is, so it’s easy to listen and connect what you hear with what you already know.  Euronews provides a transcript with each video in their “OUR LATEST VIDEO NEWS” section so you can listen first and then read if you’d...

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