In formal reporting try to avoid contractions such as "didn't" and "hadn't": it looks casual and causes your prose to lack authority. If you are "warning" you need to warn something or someone: otherwise you are "giving warning". We do seem to like to use words or phrases that do not exist. One was "adaption". Then there was the account of the moment when the two children of President-Elect Obama note, and indeed cherish, that capital E "stepped foot" inside the White House for the first time.
We must avoid vulgarities like "front up".
If someone is "fronting up" a television show then he is presenting it; if he is "fronting up" a pressure group or even a business he is leading it. Also we have started to insert definite articles where they are not needed.
It is not "the" Last Post and certainly not "the" Magna Carta. Both are in the style book: feel free, etc etc. The style book also reminds us that our readers tend to eat Christmas lunch, not Christmas dinner; this is not the Daily Star. Unless we are referring to a repast that is specifically to be held in the evening, be careful to refer to Christmas lunch in all those mouth-watering articles you are preparing about festive food.
Somebody actually allowed a piece of copy through this week with the adjective "posh" in it it was not a reference to Mrs Beckham, and nor was it being used satirically. It was lucky this was spotted and removed before a nasty accident occurred. I repeat: we are not the Daily Star. If we are setting tests or quizzes for our readers, do try to ensure the right answers really are right.
A test for would-be immigrants managed to get the voltage figure for this country wrong. It also said that one had to be 16 to enter the lottery which, as several readers pointed out, appeared to be hard on those aged 17 or more. The answer "16 or over" would have been better. I must stress again that it is of enormous importance to get styles and titles correct, even when they belong to fictional characters.
An article on the new film Australia this week referred to the heroine as being first Lady Sarah Ashley and then Lady Ashley. She cannot be both. In the film she is the daughter of an earl, and therefore the first style is correct.
Talking of names, if we have in future to refer to Nicholas Hoogstraten it will be thus; the "van" is an affectation this is known to some as the "Fayed rule". If we have to use the term Awol we use it thus.
It is hackneyed to use it in a context other than its specific military meaning. We are dropping back into the bad habit of using the verbs "launch" and "fuel" in their metaphorical, banal senses: don't, please. We also suggested this week that epilepsy is a mental illness: it isn't. We have the pre-Budget report next week, which is exactly how we should refer to it in all parts of the papers and the website.
Now, some good news. We have sealed a partnership with Oxford University Press in respect of the style guide area on our website. We use their Dictionary of English as the basis for correct usage.
They have supplied us with a number of copies free of charge, for which we are exceptionally grateful. Heads of Department who would like one should email Emma Hartley, the style book editor, as soon as possible.
Dear Colleagues I have exhorted you all to read carefully what you write. You are commenting using your WordPress. You are commenting using your Google account.
You are commenting using your Twitter account. You are commenting using your Facebook account. Notify me of new comments via email. Notify me of new posts via email. TFL said: Write sentences that are not longer than words The Telegraph says: Few people who are worth listening to speak in sentences of more than 30 words. The majority of the Telegraph style book is an A-Z of spellings, usage and capitalisation: actress is the term we use for a female actor.
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