5 Quick Ways To Write Better On

5 Quick Ways To Write Better On

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1. Paragraphs

  • Do make paragraphs clear, focused, readable, and short. Every paragraph should have its own identifiable point. If you can’t explain (to yourself) the point of a paragraph, it needs to be rewritten.

  • Do start a new paragraph when you start a new idea. Use new paragraphs for all quotes that are a complete sentence, or when switching to a new speaker. Even if you leave a paragraph “shorter than normal,” it’s still better to write short paragraphs with clear ideas than longer paragraphs that leave readers guessing.

  • Don’t make paragraphs longer than about five or six lines. Don’t indent paragraphs.

2. Headlines and Titles

  • Do write appealing headlines. Be as specific as possible. Use reader-friendly terms like “how to” and specific numbers. Try to tell readers what they will get out of the article.

CORRECT: 3 Easy Ways to Beat the Queen’s Pawn Opening

  • Don’t write vague headlines.

  • Don’t use the word “and” or the symbol “&” in a news headline. Use a comma instead.

CORRECT: Nakamura, So to Play Death Match

It is O.K. to use “and” in an article headline.

3. Capitalization

  • Do capitalize official titles when they are being used as titles.

CORRECT: World Champion Magnus Carlsen will play in the tournament.

  • Don’t capitalize titles when used normally in the sentence.

CORRECT: Carlsen became world champion last year.
CORRECT: The current world champion, Magnus Carlsen, is good at chess.

  • Don’t capitalize ordinary nouns just because they are important.

4. Hyphens and Dashes

  • Do use an em dash without a space on each sidelike thisto indicate breaks in thought or interruptions within sentences. 

  • Don’t overuse dashes. Commas or colons are often better options.

  • Do use a single hyphen without spaces for date ranges.

CORRECT: January 4-6, January 15-February 1 

5. Bold Text

  • Do bold key ideas, names, and places in your article or news item, especially early in the piece. This increases readability and gives readers a quick idea of the article’s most important points.

  • Don’t overuse bold text, or bold entire paragraphs. Only emphasize the most important elements.

Written by staff, with special thanks to Pete, Mike Klein, and Peter Doggers.

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