What Is Style?
Style allows for all writing to be consistent. There are two main style guides that most papers use. They are the Associated Press Style Guide and the Chicago Style Guide. They have to do with using commas, what to capitalize, writing out numbers and other matters of form. It is desirable for any media to use the same style as it makes everything more consistent and easier to read. Here is an example of poor style:
On Friday, April 23, 2008, John Smith stole 12 oranges from Gallo’s Supermarket. Smith was arrested and detained on three charges for stealing the twelve oranges. In addition to oranges, Smith also stole apples, tomatoes, and pears.
Henry Gallo, owner of Gallo’s supermarket stated that he saw Smith look at the oranges, apples, tomatoes and pears and looked like he was considering theft. He watched him pick up 3 apples but put them down. The he stole the twelve oranges……
You can get the picture. The story does not use commas, capitalization or numbers consistently. This is just an example of style and how it works. It can be difficult to read an article that is not consistent when it comes to style. Nothing is wrong with the facts of the article, but it is difficult to read because it does not follow a certain type of style.
If you are in college, you are most likely being taught a different style of writing than you learned in high school. Some colleges have their own style guides. Many writing jobs, especially those online, will not want two spaces after a period. This is standard when you are learning how to type, or keyboard as it is now called, but there are many online outlets that do not want the two spaces after the end of a sentence. This is for space reasons and is also a style issue.
Commas are very subjective, although some people go a little comma happy and use them too often. Some do not use them at all. Commas break up a train of thought in a sentence. For the most part, it is difficult to what is right or what is wrong. But when it comes to writing for print media or online, you need to understand their style manual so that you know how to use commas as well as other elements of style.
Many copy editors will go over style for you and make corrections. But it is important to learn about writing styles and what to use when you are writing for any company. While you are in school, you will most likely be taught AP style as this has become the most accepted style.
Learning style points is not difficult. At first, if you are used to using a certain type of style, you may find that it is hard to change the way that you are used to writing based on a new style guide, but as you continue writing, you will find that it gets easier and become more natural. In order to pursue a career in journalism, you are going to have to be flexible when it comes to style and be careful to use it according to the style manual used by the company for which you work.
One way to brush up on your style is to pay close attention to the details given to you when it comes to turning in college essays. Most college professors will mark off for style errors, especially if you are a journalism major. While some writers do not like this bit of detail, it is crucial to understand style, why it is used and how to use it for your own writing. Again, the more you get used to the style, the more natural writing using a certain style will come to you. It may take a bit of effort at first, but it will soon become second nature to you.