Punctuations, Quotes, and AP Style in Journalistic Writing
In everything we do, there are rules governing them for us to do it right and so do rules exist in journalistic writing. In our last article, we looked at the choice of words to use in writing your journalistic write-ups. What you can write and what you cannot. In this article, our focus is on how relevant punctuations, quotes, and AP Style are when writing your news stories thus punctuations, quotes, and AP style in journalistic writing. In every writing, punctuations are important. It shows how sentences should be read and makes the message clear. You can’t just write without punctuation. We said in our previous article that you need to consider your readers when writing journalistic pieces and make sure your message is easy to understand and to use properly.
Some Scholars gave their views about punctuations;
According to Lindley Murray in Patridge(2005), punctuation is the act of dividing a written composition into sentences, by points or stops to make the different pauses that the sense and an accurate pronunciation require.
Deaver (1996) sees punctuation marks as traffic road signs that show the reader when to slow or stop, where to change direction, or where he is going. According to him, punctuation marks are like tools and individual writers have their respective ways of using them. Thus it depends on the meaning the writer wants to convey to his or her readers. Assume reading this article without punctuation marks, will it be able to convey any meaning?
Roles of punctuation marks.
Some functions the punctuation marks perform are as follows;
Punctuations help in conveying meaning in a text. It helps us understand what the text or the sentence is trying to tell us. It aids in the comprehension of the journalistic piece. Without it, your readers wouldn’t get to understand what you are writing.
Punctuations help to know when to stop, pause, shout and do other activities involved in writing. Imagine reading without any punctuation, you will read and not get to the bottom of whatever you are reading. Can you talk without breathing? This applies to writing as well, it needs to breathe.
Punctuations help to bind words, phrases, and sentences together to enhance meaning. It also disambiguates the meaning of sentences in a text.
Let’s consider some of the punctuation marks;
A period also known as a full stop marks the end of a sentence other than that, sentences will look like a never-ending activity. Let’s take some examples:
The President visited the USA National Park.
She likes eating vegetables.
The three punctuation marks, comma(,), semi-colon(;), and colon(:) are known as the pause marks because they indicate a brief pause or break in writing.
The comma (,) is used to separate items, phrases or words. For example, Jennifer bought tomatoes, pepper, onion, and ginger from the market.
They are used to link equal or balanced clauses. It usually talks about the same idea.
for example; Linda took the bottle of water from the table; she had likely drank the poison.
The relation in these separate sentences is the bottled water she took and the outcome.
Colon connects two independent sentences. It is used when the second sentence explains or elaborates the first. For example;
Kofi is taken to the hospital: He fainted in the classroom.
These are some punctuation marks to consider in journalistic write-ups. Don’t forget to use your punctuation properly when writing. Each new idea should be separated by a longer pause, and the best way to indicate this is to begin a new paragraph.
How quotes are important in your journalistic piece?
Quotes are written forms of words in which people have spoken. In print journalism, quotes are shown by quotation marks either single(‘) or double (“). These are sometimes called inverted commas.
Why quotes are important in our journalistic write-ups?
We quote to avoid misreporting. If you say the exact words that people themselves used you reduce the risk of misreporting.
We quote so that our readers can see both the ideas and the way they were used.
We quote to leave the audience in no doubt about who said something.
Associated Press Style provides guidelines for news writing. This style of writing guides you to write your journalistic piece. AP Style provides consistent guidelines for news writing in terms of capitalization, grammar, spelling, punctuation, and language usage. Some guidelines and principles behind AP Style are;
Consistency, Clarity, Accuracy, and Brevity. We will delve deep into this in our subsequent articles.
Abbreviations and Acronyms.
Some abbreviations are required in certain situations while others are acceptable but not required in some contexts. For example, Dr., Gov., Lt., Sen., and others are required before a person’s full name when they occur outside a direct quote.
Acronyms are sometimes the same but have different meanings so you should be mindful of that. Write in full at the beginning of your news story so that in the rest of the story, in case you use acronyms, your readers will know what you are talking about. For instance, you might be speaking about NMC – Nurses and Midwifery Council but someone might know of a different NMC, so he or she might be confused about the message you are conveying.
When writing your journalistic piece, use figures in the writing age. If age is used as an adjective or as a substitute for a noun, then it should be hyphenated. Avoid apostrophes when describing an age range. For example:
She is 28 years old. Always write it in figures.
Capital letters can be used for names or to create emphasis. Capitalize formal titles when they appear before a person’s name but lowercase titles if they are informal, appear without a person’s name.
Spelling is relevant in writing. In your journalistic piece, you should spell correctly so your readers wouldn’t have any problems when reading. Sometimes the spelling of a certain word can the meaning of the whole sentence. This happens especially when you meet troublesome words so you need to look at them closely and spell the phonetically.