July 30, 2018, critique


After being incorrect the previous week, we’re back to correctly heralding “The Truth Shall Bear All Light.” Thanks for your attention to detail to make sure this is correct. I enjoyed the local focus in Sports. In know this is hard to do in the summer, but you found a way to find compelling reading about local sports topics.

Photo of the week


Best lead


Best headline



Our front page did not follow modular design. Modular design has been the foundation of newspaper design since the 1970s and still is followed today. We need to follow modular design on our front page and inside pages. I found a great definition of modular design in “The Student Newspaper Survival Guide,” by Rachele Kanigel.

“In modular design, each element — photo, cutline, body  copy — is treated as a rectangular building block. These blocks are then packaged together to form larger rectangles. Modular design makes a paper easier to read and navigate. It helps readers know which photos, stories, sidebars and infoboxes go together and where to find the next column of type.”

Basically, each story and all of its components need to be contained within a square or rectangle. I’ve highlighted modular design in the following pages. As you will see below, all the stories and their parts fit into squares and rectangles:

Below is our page from July 30. Because the story in yellow is “L” shaped, we are not following modular design.

Think about what goes in the paper. The box below about getting a permit says the permit will be good until August 2018. For a paper that comes out July 30, that permit will be good for only one day. Why would we put this information in? Don’t just go through the motions. We should have called someone and provided updated information or have written it differently to refer to the permits that you need after this one expires in one day.

This should probably read, “You SHOULD look it up.” However, this was based on a sign that I’ve never forgotten from my college newsroom. I still like the reminder today.
If you don’t own an AP Stylebook, there are a bunch of old ones outside my office. A lot of basic rules haven’t changed for ages, and it’s better to look something up in an old book than to do nothing. I suggest you invest in a new stylebook of your own.

If you can’t recite the rule for style, you need to look it up. Even if it means looking it up 20 times or more (there still are rules I can’t remember). That’s really the secret to learning style. One of the most meaningful pieces of advice I’ve gathered in my more than 15 years as an editor is this: Verify that what you’re writing (or editing) is correct. Do this instead of trying to catch errors. Instead, verify that what you think you know is actually the truth. You will hear me say this over and over and over. This is the secret that most people don’t know until they make embarrassing errors and learn it the hard way.

Things we can stop doing wrong easily now: Follow AP style for numbers. The rule hasn’t changed in decades. It’s the same as I learned back in 1995. We have it wrong all over the place in the July 30 issue. The basic rule (to which there a several exceptions, all of which you should learn) is to spell out numbers one through nine and use numerals for numbers 10 and higher. Here’s the exact rule:

In general, spell out one through nine: The Yankees finished second. He had nine months to go.

Use figures for 10 or above and whenever preceding a unit of measure or referring to ages of people, animals, events or things. Also in all tabular matter, and in statistical and sequential forms.
Use figures for:
ACADEMIC COURSE NUMBERS: History 6, Philosophy 209.
ADDRESSES: 210 Main St. Spell out numbered streets nine and under: 5 Sixth Ave.3012 50th St.No. 10 Downing St. Use the abbreviations Ave.Blvd. and St. only with a numbered address: 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. Spell them out and capitalize without a number: Pennsylvania Avenue.
See addresses.
AGES: a 6-year-old girlan 8-year-old lawthe 7-year-old house. Use hyphens for ages expressed as adjectives before a noun or as substitutes for a noun. A 5-year-old boy, but the boy is 5 years oldThe boy, 5, has a sister, 10. The race is for 3-year-olds. The woman is in her 30s. 30-something, but Thirty-something to start a sentence.
See ages.
PLANES, SHIPS AND SPACECRAFT DESIGNATIONS: B-2 bomber, Queen Elizabeth 2, QE2, Apollo 9, Viking 2 An exception: Air Force One, the president’s plane. Use Roman numerals if they are part of the official designation: Titan I, Titan II.
CENTURIES: Use figures for numbers 10 or higher: 21st century. Spell out for numbers nine and lower: fifth century. (Note lowercase.) For proper names, follow the organization’s usage: 20th Century Fox, Twentieth Century Fund.
COURT DECISIONS: The Supreme Court ruled 5-4, a 5-4 decision. The word to is not needed, except in quotations: “The court ruled 5 to 4.”
– Court districts: 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
DATES, YEARS AND DECADES: Feb. 8, 2007, Class of ’66, the 1950s. For the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, 9/11 is acceptable in all references. (Note comma to set off the year when the phrase refers to a month, date and year.)
DECIMALS, PERCENTAGES AND FRACTIONS WITH NUMBERS LARGER THAN 1: 7.2 magnitude quake, 3 1/2 laps, 3.7 percent interest, 4 percentage points. Decimalization should not exceed two places in most text material. Exceptions: blood alcohol content, expressed in three decimals: as in 0.056, and batting averages in baseball, as in .324. For amounts less than 1, precede the decimal with a zero: The cost of living rose 0.03 percent. Spell out fractions less than 1, using hyphens between the words: two-thirds, four-fifths. In quotations, use figures for fractions: “He was 2 1/2 laps behind with four to go.”
DIMENSIONS, TO INDICATE DEPTH, HEIGHT, LENGTH AND WIDTH: He is 5 feet 6 inches tall, the 5-foot-6 man (“inch” is understood), the 5-foot man, the basketball team signed a 7-footer. The car is 17 feet long, 6 feet wide and 5 feet high. The rug is 9 feet by 12 feet, the 9-by-12 rug. A 9-inch snowfall. Exception: two-by-four. Spell out the noun, which refers to any length of untrimmed lumber approximately 2 inches thick by 4 inches wide.
DISTANCES: He walked 4 miles. He missed a 3-foot putt.
GOLF CLUBS: 3-wood, 7-iron, 3-hybrid (note hyphen).
HIGHWAY DESIGNATIONS: Interstate 5, U.S. Highway 1, state Route 1A. (Do not abbreviate Route. No hyphen between highway designation and number.)
MATHEMATICAL USAGE: Multiply by 4, divide by 6. He added 2 and 2 but got 5.
MILITARY RANKS, USED AS TITLES WITH NAMES, MILITARY TERMS AND WEAPONS:Petty Officer 2nd Class Alan Markow, Spc. Alice Moreno, 1st Sgt. David Triplett, M16 rifle, 9 mm (note space) pistol, 6th Fleet. In military ranks, spell out the figure when it is used after the name or without a name: Smith was a second lieutenant. The goal is to make first sergeant.
MILLIONS, BILLIONS, TRILLIONS: Use a figure-word combination. 1 million people; $2 billion, NOT one million/two billion. (Also note no hyphen linking numerals and the word millionbillion or trillion.)
MONETARY UNITS: 5 cents, $5 bill, 8 euros, 4 pounds.
See cents.
ODDS, PROPORTIONS AND RATIOS: 9-1 long shot; 3 parts cement to 1 part water; a 1-4 chance, but one chance in three.
RANK: He was my No. 1 choice. (Note abbreviation for “Number”). Kentucky was ranked No. 3. The band had five Top 40 hits.
SCHOOL GRADES: Use figures for grades 10 and above: 10th grade. Spell out for first through ninth grades: fourth grade, fifth-grader (note hyphen).
SEQUENTIAL DESIGNATIONS: Page 1, Page 20A. They were out of sizes 4 and 5; magnitude 6 earthquake; Rooms 3 and 4; Chapter 2; line 1 but first line; Act 3, Scene 4, but third act, fourth scene; Game 1, but best of seven.
POLITICAL DISTRICTS: Ward 9, 9th Precinct, 3rd Congressional District.
– Recipes: 2 tablespoons of sugar to 1 cup of milk.
See recipes.
SPEEDS: 7 mph, winds of 5 to 10 mph, winds of 7 to 9 knots.
SPORTS SCORES, STANDINGS AND STANDARDS: The Dodgers defeated the Phillies 10-3(No comma between the team and the score); in golf, 3 up, but a 3-up lead; led 3-2; a 6-1-2 record (six wins, one loss, two ties); par 3; 5 handicap, 5-under-par 67 but he was 5 under par (or 5 under, with “par” understood). In narrative, spell out nine and under except for yard lines in football and individual and team statistical performances: The ball was on the 5-yard line. Seventh hole. In basketball, 3-point play and 3-point shot. In statistical performances, hyphenate as a modifier: He completed 8 of 12 passes. He made 5 of 6 (shots is understood). He was 5-for-12 passing. He had a 3-for-5 day. He was 3-for-5. He went 3-for-5 (batting, shooting, etc., is understood).
TEMPERATURES: Use figures, except zero. It was 8 degrees below zero or minus 8. The temperature dropped from 38 to 8 in two hours.
TIMES: Use figures for time of day except for noon and midnight: 1 p.m., 10:30 a.m., 5 o’clock, 8 hours, 30 minutes, 20 seconds, a winning time of 2:17:3 (2 hours, 17 minutes, 3 seconds). Spell out numbers less than 10 standing alone and in modifiers: I’ll be there in five minutes. He scored with two seconds left. An eight-hour day. The two-minute warning.
VOTES: The bill was defeated by a vote of 6 to 4, but by a two-vote margin.
Spell out:
AT THE START OF A SENTENCE: In general, spell out numbers at the start of a sentence: Forty years was a long time to wait. Fifteen to 20 cars were involved in the accident.An exception is years: 1992 was a very good year. Another exception: Numeral(s) and letter(s) combinations: 401(k) plans are offered. 4K TVs are flying off the shelves. 3D movies are drawing more fans.
See years.
IN INDEFINITE AND CASUAL USES: Thanks a million. He walked a quarter of a mile. One at a time; a thousand clowns; one day we will know; an eleventh-hour decision; dollar store; a hundred dollars.
IN FANCIFUL USAGE OR PROPER NAMES: Chicago Seven, Fab Four, Big Three automakers, Final Four, the Four Tops.
IN FORMAL LANGUAGE, RHETORICAL QUOTATIONS AND FIGURES OF SPEECH:“Fourscore and seven years ago …” Twelve Apostles, Ten Commandments, high-five, Day One.
IN FRACTIONS LESS THAN ONE THAT ARE NOT USED AS MODIFIERS: reduced by one-third, he made three-fourths of his shots.
They may be used for wars and to establish personal sequence for people and animals: World War I, Native Dancer II, King George V. Also for certain legislative acts (Title IX). Otherwise, use sparingly. Pro football Super Bowls should be identified by the year, rather than the Roman numerals: 1969 Super Bowl, not Super Bowl III.
Numbers used to indicate order (first, second, 10th, 25th, etc.) are called ordinal numbers. Spell out first through ninth: fourth grade, first base, the First Amendment, he was first in line. Use figures starting with 10th.
Numbers used in counting or showing how many (2, 40, 627, etc.) are called cardinal numbers. The following separate entries provide additional guidance for cardinal numbers:
– 3 ounces
– 4-foot-long
– 4-foot fence
– “The president’s speech lasted 28 1/2 minutes,” she said.
– DC-10 but 747B
– the 1980s, the ’80s
– the House voted 230-205 (fewer than 1,000 votes)
– Jimmy Carter outpolled Gerald Ford 40,827,292 to 39,146,157 (more than 1,000 votes)
– Carter outpolled Ford 10 votes to 2 votes in Little Junction (to avoid confusion with ratio)
– No. 3 choice, but Public School 3
– a pay increase of 12-15 percent. Or: a pay increase of between 12 and 15 percent
But: from $12 million to $14 million
– a ratio of 2-to-1, a 2-1 ratio
– 1 in 4 voters
– seven houses 7 miles apart
– He walked 4 miles.
– minus 10, zero, 60 degrees (spell out minus)
OTHER USES: For uses not covered by these listings, spell out whole numbers below 10, and use figures for 10 and above: They had three sons and two daughters. They had a fleet of 10 station wagons and two buses.
IN A SERIES: Apply the standard guidelines: They had 10 dogs, six cats and 97 hamsters. They had four four-room houses, 10 three-room houses and 12 10-room houses.

Get rid of unneeded zeros: If you were stuck in a deserted island without a stylebook and had to guess at style, you should guess the option that takes the fewest characters. Journalistic writing — AP especially –hates unnecessary key strokes. Keep this in mind when you are editing/writing times and dollar amounts.
NO: 6:00 a.m.
YES: 6 a.m.

NO: $5.00
YES: $5


In Sports we refer to mens soccer. It should be men’s soccer. We had a similar error last week in Sports, too. The AP Stylebook could have been consulted for guidance on how to do this. Read the passage below found under the “possessives” entry (I bolded the pertinent part).

DESCRIPTIVE PHRASES: Do not add an apostrophe to a word ending in s when it is used primarily in a descriptive sense: citizens band radioa Cincinnati Reds infieldera teachers collegea Teamsters requesta writers guide.
Memory aid: The apostrophe usually is not used if for or by rather than of would be appropriate in the longer form: a radio band for citizensa college for teachersa guide for writersa request by the Teamsters.
An ‘s is required, however, when a term involves a plural word that does not end in sa children’s hospitala people’s republicthe Young Men’s Christian Association.

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