Style. This is so true for a news publication and media houses as well. Those incapable to have it or unable to follow one, fail to impress. If you are a writer – of any kind – most importantly, a bold face in online media, a style defines your appearance. Here, we’re discussing a Style Sheet in terms of factors that will take you places and will help you express better.
Style Sheet may be taught to you as a standardised booklet or guide material teaching or enforcing certain rules and principles of journalism. It appears bookish many a times as it teaches this, asks you to follow that and tutors on language, grammar etc. At times, a style sheet may confuse you with usage of ‘9’ or ‘nine’, ‘am’ or ‘a.m.’ and so forth.
While a standardisation of rules should be left for big organisations for whom everything is right, may you follow just these basic principles which will guarantee you certain degree of credibility in all your endeavours. Your Style Sheet, over the years, will take care of spelling, punctuation, and news writing practice so that your stories will be accurate and consistent and also objective.
Further on, you can decide fonts, size, colour and tools for make up based upon individual choice or target audience/readers/viewers, like… Typeface or font, Boldfacing, Italicizing, Justification (left, right, centre, justify, force justify), Space before and after paragraphs, Type size, Indent, Colour, Dropcaps, Line Spacing, Margin Width, Headline, Subheading etc etc.
Depending on your nature, some of the prescriptions below might be absolute fun and some might be strong adherence. Choice is yours. But, before you start reading on, ask yourself – Do you really want to know how to write?
Stories Must Be
- Factual, objective, newsworthy, interesting and informative.
- Before doing the news story, always ask yourself: Why should anyone read this? If in doubt, ask yourself again or discuss.
- Well-written, well-structured, concise, crisp, grammatically correct, and properly formatted as also supported by photograph / illustration / graphics.
- Competitive with other news stories.
- Timely. Don’t repeat the same story unless something new happens.
Please always keep in mind – stories should be well-researched and well-sourced.
Please ensure visiting the news spot to report first hand or cross-checking with the reporter (in case of doubt) while editing the story.
Tips For Reports
Headline –Write factually-based headline.
The Lead / Intro
- 1st Paragraph (most important part of the news story) – State the story facts (WHO, WHAT, WHERE, HOW and WHY) so readers know exactly what the article covers.
- 2nd Paragraph – Expand on the lead by including the significance of the event (i.e. WHY this event is newsworthy).
- 3rd Paragraph (in-depth) – After establishing who was involved, what/where/how it happened, and why it’s important, provide further detail about the event.
- 4th Paragraph (and Beyond) – Include background details relevant to the news event.
News or Opinion?
When you write/edit a report, you must mention ‘News’ or ‘Views’.
Use your best judgment.
News stories are fact-based and represent both sides. News analysis/opinion/views adds interpretation to the facts.
…You are ready now to reveal your true colours.
Let newsrooms fight over the debate if it should be al-Qaida, Al Qadea, al Qaeda or al Qayada, you simply define it through your writing Style. A terror group will never change to Buddhist principles if you spell it right or wrong. You write what you see, what you feel is right.