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Teaching Writing

George Orwell's writing tips

George Orwell's classic 1946 essay The Politics of the English Language provides timeless advice for writing clearly and powerfully. This is a short summary of his five basic rules.

Tips from a newspaper writing coach

A long-time reporter, editor and writing coach, Steve Buttry, has some great advice for reporters on everything from writing short to writing with emotional authenticity. Buttry is now director of tailored programs at the American Press Institute and his columns can be found at the API website.

Writing great headlines

If you are looking for exercises to help students learn to write effective headlines, you may find this site helpful. It's an online interactive workshop for which copy editors have submitted stories. You read the story, write a headline in the space provided and then click to find out what the pros wrote, and then read their comments on why they wrote their head.

Essays on narrative journalism

The Neiman Narrative Digest is a website established to improve and advance the practice of narrative in journalism by offering useful resources to writers, editors, teachers and students. This page provides links to a series of essays from established writers on building characters, writing scenes and telling stories.

Notable narratives archives

The Neiman Narrative Digest is building an archive of notable pieces of narrative journalism which can be searched by source, topic and format. The full text of some pieces are available free. Others require a fee.

Keeping it short but powerful

This is an example of a compelling 400-word profile, followed by notes from the reporter about the process he went through to keep it so short. The post is from the blog Newsthinking, by Bob Baker, a professional writing coach and journalist with the Los Angeles Times, whose site is an archive of successful stories, followed by some insights into what makes them great.

Short and Sweet: Storytelling in 300 words

An article from Michael Weinstein, the features editor at the Charlotte Observer, about how to write short.

Said vs. Says

If you struggle to explain to students when it is appropriate to use "says" vs. "said" in their stories, you may find some guidance from these editors and writers. In this piece, the Poynter Institute's Chip Scanlan, explains why feature writers generally prefer the present tense, while some editors detest it. He makes his case, then follows up with the different views of the four newspaper editors.

What radio reporters can teach print reporters about writing

An article from Poynter Online about how one print reporter learned to write better, tighter and shorter from following the advice of radio reporters.

Write your headlines for an intelligent friend

A useful set of tips for writing better headlines from Sharon Burnside, the Assistant Managing Editor for the Toronto Star.

Resources for teaching editing

The Knight Ohio Program for Editing and Editing Education gathers and creates resources for editing professors, students and working professionals. The site includes links, downloads and multimedia content, including an interactive headline workshop.

Newsroom 101

This is a series of online exercises based on grammar, usage and AP style produced and updated regularly by two Americans, Ron Hartung of the Tallahasseee Democrat and Gerald Grow, journalism professor at Florida A&M. Canadian journalism educators would have to adapt the material for Canadian journalists using CP style, but these online exercises could be a good starting point.

CJR's language corner

An advice column full of great information about language rules and grammar tips from the Columbia Journalism Review. The page is updated regularly and well-organized for finding specific rules and tips.


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