It is often said that a better content is made when the writer sticks to some common minimum standards of quality writing. Here are five MUST NO styles in content writing that risk getting auto deleted in any newsroom, anytime. Read on to know more.

Avoid question mark in a headline-Content Writing

Using question mark in the heading is a common error content writers make inadvertently. This is because the writer forgets the fact that the reader is not paying the cover price to answer the authors’ questions.  It also gives a feeling that the writer is not fully convinced about what he/she is writing about. It gives a sense of doubt to readers.  The writer should be able to convey ideas without a shade of doubt. When in doubt delete is a thumb rule editors follow.

Never start a copy with `In’

Using the word `in’ in the introduction is considered as inappropriate by editors. When one writes `In a historic judgment’ or `In what can be called as’ to begin a copy, the antenna of any watchful editor goes up automatically.  This is because:

  1. It is not for the writer to decide whether the event is `historic’ or `significant’ or a `watershed’.
  2. It is considered as a writer’s ploy to play up the story. Therefore, it is better to avoid `In’ in the introduction.

Avoid complex sentences wherever possible

Articulating more than one idea through complex sentences should be avoided wherever possible.  This is because by packing more than one idea in a sentence, the writer fails to say what he/she really wants to tell readers exactly.  Real news gets buried in long winding sentences punctuated with punctuations. It is better to break news according to their significance and sequence them in an orderly manner in separate sentences according to their relevance and without frills. That is a generally accepted and widely followed style.

But in this age of character restricted news reporting, like in the social media, this may not be always possible. This is because media brands vie each other to break the story first and readers-in-the-go seldom go beyond the headlines or first paragraph.  Here the commonly accepted style is to give (one) liners followed by a composite introduction giving the gist of the breaking news.

Never use facts without cross checking

If one should give the devil its due, the `fake news’ should be given the credit for putting news organizations, who have grown complacent about checking facts, to get their facts double checked. As tight fisted regulations have come to rule media space to check spreading of false news, media houses are putting multiple filters and triggers to check the veracity of news. Still the propagators of fake news find ways to beat these firewalls and get false information circulated freely at least among closed user groups. Recent episode of a listed internet company targeted by rumor mongers through a closed user group on a networking site is one such example. Much before the media platform could pull out the news, the damage has already been done with the company losing half of its market value in no time. Since lakhs of common investors’ money is at stake, it is only ethical for writers to cross check and double check facts before reporting any event.  The risk of running clarifications, corrections and rejoinders later is a bigger damage to the reputation of any media organization than giving the correct news a bit later.

Avoid frivolous style

A large chunk of content being circulated among media platforms in the form of press releases and statements do not qualify for publication since they have no proper introduction, quotes, facts and necessary background. Therefore, those who prepare content for media in the form of press release or statements should make it sure that the handout has a proper introduction written in plain English followed by details and quotes from individuals concerned and proper background. A no nonsense editor always insists on a well written introduction followed by quotes attributed to people concerned who can be named rather than to vague unnamed sources and a detailed background. In other words, statements issued to the press should have a head, middle and tail.

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