KUJH-TV Style and Writing Guide

 

Write scripts according to the following style directions. As noted in individual entries,where the material will appear on the screen, such as in chyrons, in general use conventional print journalism notation following Associated Press style or general rules, as appropriate.

Abbreviations

Don't abbreviate words in a script.

Correct: Company, association, state, Saint, Street, doctor, professor, inch(es), mile(s), pound(s), December.

Wrong: Co., Assn., st., St., dr., prof., in., mi., lb., Dec.

Those and similar words may be abbreviated in supers but not in script copy.

Acronyms: see Initials

Addresses: see Numbers

Ages

Give the age of a person only where it's clearly called for in the story, which means not in the vast majority of stories. It may be necessary for identification, such as crime suspects and victims, or relevant to the story focus.

Police arrested 37-year-old Roger Gilkey.

Do not put the age in commas after the name; make it a conversational part of the script (as above). Do not substitute the age for a person's first name.

Wrong: Police arrested Roger Gilkey, 37, near the store.

Wrong: Police say the 37-year-old Gilkey resisted arrest.

Allegedly

The use of this word is a traditional hedge against libel, but do not depend on it to stay out of legal trouble. Attribute charges and allegations to police and prosecutors.

Weak: Wilson allegedly forced the driver out of the car at gunpoint.

Stronger: Prosecutors say Wilson forced the driver out of the car at gunpoint.

Attribution

Place attribution before statement, and avoid according to. Says and said are the best words for attribution. Use them except in rare cases.

Correct: Governor Parkinson says the legislature will probably cut funding for higher education.

Wrong: The state legislature will probably cut funding for higher education, according to Governor Parkinson.

Wrong: Governor Parkinson declares that the state legislature will probably cut funding for higher education.

Use the present-tense word says whenever possible, which is nearly always.

President Bush says tax rebates will help get the economy moving.

Use the past tense with time elements.

Bush told a group of legislators this morning that their support for the tax cut was crucial.

Mayor Pennypacker says he wants to lift a moratorium on annexing land into the city of Lawrence. He said last week the moratorium should continue, but now he's changed his mind.

See also Quotes

Chyrons (see Supers)

Chyrons are words electronically superimposed on the screen. Click this link for chyron style information. More detailed directions and descriptions of chyrons are in the KUJH-TV News Staff Web Site.

Dates: See Numbers

Degrees

Where appropriate, refer conversationally to an academic degree in copy as a bachelor's, master's, or doctorate. Bachelor's degree and master's degree are acceptable.

Wagstaff received his doctorate from Huxley College in 1932 and joined the journalism faculty at K-U two years later.

Don't use them after the person's name.

Correct: Professor Richard Musser led the discussion.

Wrong: Professor Richard Musser, Ph.D., led the discussion.

Do not use the title Doctor for individuals who have a doctorate. Reserve Doctor for medical doctors. Use it with the first and last name on first reference, and use the last name alone on subsequent references.

Smith consulted Doctor Hugo Hackenbush when the symptoms got worse. Hackenbush recommended an experimental program at the Mayo Clinic.

See also Names, Titles

Dollars

See money.

Emphasis

Sometimes we need to indicate words or phrases we want emphasized. Put these in ALL CAPITALS. We cannot underline copy or put it in bold on the KUJH newsroom computer. Don't overdo it -- we don't need to shout all the time.

Attendees showed up at the BURGE Union for the conference. But the power outage forced them to walk all the way to the KANSAS Union for the keynote address.

That makes FOUR straight days the e-mail server has been down.

Foreign names and words

Avoid using foreign words in copy unless they're necessary. It's overly cute; many listeners won't understand, anyway. We too often butcher the spelling, pronunciation or both.

Weak: He came around the corner and, wallah, there was the money bag.

Find another way to say it -- in English.

Be sure to pronounce foreign names correctly. See Pronunciation.

Initials

Use hyphens, not periods, to separate initials. Generally refer to an organization by its name, not its initials or acronym, on first reference. Subsequent references may use initials if the meaning is clear. Some organizations and companies, such as the television networks, are better-known by their intials than full name, and you may refer to them by their initials on first mention:

F-B-I, C-I-A, K-U, U-S, A-B-C, C-N-N, N-C-A-A

If an organization's intials form an acronym, omit the hyphens.

NASA, OPEC

We generally don't use a person's middle initial, unless it's part of a well-known name or necessary for identification, especially for crime suspects. When you use the middle initial, put a period after it.

Edward R. Murrow, John F. Kennedy

Money

Never use the dollar sign ($) in script copy. Write out the word dollars and put it after the number.

Correct: The new directory will cost 25 dollars.

Wrong: The new directory will cost $25.

Use the dollar sign in graphics and chyrons, but not in script copy.

See also Numbers.

Names

Refer to a news subject by first and last name on first reference, and by last name on subsequent references.

Exceptions: the president of the United States and the governor of Kansas. We don't need to use their full names on first reference.

Governor Parkinson

President Obama

It's permissible to refer to minors by their first name on second and subsequent references. However, refer to minors being tried as adults by their last name.

In highly personalized feature stories, or stories about young victims of crime or injury, writers often slip into use of the first name alone. Be cautious in doing this. Not only can it be overly familiar with the news subject, but it can be a source of gender bias and patronization. It seems much more frequent with females than males.

See also Initials, Pronounciation, Titles

Numbers

Write out the numbers one through nine.

The Jayhawks have won their last seven games.

A six-year-old boy took first prize.

Write the numbers 10 through 999 in numerals.

That makes 26 wins in a row at Allen Fieldhouse.

He says he came to the United States with 27 dollars and eight cents in his pocket.

Use a combination of the previous two rules for large numbers, hyphenating the phrase for clarity. Round numbers off sensibly; don't clutter the story with detailed numbers. Keep the numeric expression together on one line. Make sure the point comes across simply and clearly.

About two-million people live in the Saint Louis area.

K-U spent around 75-thousand-dollars on the program

four-thousand-700 (or) 47-hundred

300-million pieces of mail a day

five-million-800-thousand

Wrong: 2-million; seventy-five-thousand or 75,000;
ten-thousand or 10,000;
4-thousand-700 or 4-thousand-seven-hundred;
twenty-million or 20,000,000; three-hundred million;
5-million-800-thousand or 5-million-eight-hundred-thousand
or 5,800,000

Decimals: Never use a period for a decimal in story copy. Use fractions (half, quarter, third) instead of decimals in general. This is true for large numbers that are rounded off, and for unemployment statistics and similar figures. In rare cases it's acceptable to use the word point, but don't make it a habit. Instead, round off or use fractions such as quarters, half or thirds.

Correct: six-and-a-half-million

Wrong: 6.5 million; six-point-five-million

The unemployment rate in Kansas dropped two-tenths of one percentage point to four-and-three-tenths of one percent.

Wrong: 4.3 percent

At the beginning of a sentence, spell out numbers, even if they would normally take numerals.

Fourteen schools in the district will participate.

Ordinal numbers follow the same rules as cardinal numbers.

The sophomore runner finished in first place.

Lawrence is the second-fastest-growing city in Kansas.

He got his 15th speeding ticket.

Warren Spahn won his 300th major-league game while he pitched for the Milwaukee Braves.

Dates follow the same rules as other numbers. Write years in numerals; a hyphen in the middle of the year is optional.

April first or April One (April first is more conversational.)

the first of May

December 25th or December 25

the year 2000

the San Francisco earthquake in 19-04

Times may be expressed in scripted-out expressions or numerals. Avoid using A-M and P-M:

six o'clock or 6:00 tonight

3:45 tomorrow afternoon

10:30 this morning

Give phone numbers in numerals.

The clinic's phone number is 5-5-5-2-3-4-5 or 5-5-5-23-45.

Remember that the viewers aren't sitting there with pencils poised, waiting to take notes. When you use a phone number in a story, reinforce it with a chyron. Tell the viewers we'll give them the number again at the end of the news and arrange it with the producer. Always post the number in the newsroom and give it to whoever answers the phone for the newsroom and the station. It is very common for viewers to call in asking for phone numbers they missed in stories -- don't frustrate them or your co-workers.

Express addresses in numerals unless the number has only one digit. Hyphenate to help clarify how to read the address.

1000 Sunnyside Avenue

five Park Place

7-16 North Elizabeth

10-09 Wellington Road

For all numbers, use standard notation in chyrons and full-screen graphics.

Percentages

Never use the percent key (%) in script copy. Write out the word percent.

The survey found that 45 percent of likely voters favor building a trafficway somewhere south of 31st Street.

The percent key is acceptable in graphics and chyrons, but not in script copy.

See also Numbers

Pronunciation (pronouncers)

Provide a pronouncer -- a simple pronunciation guide -- for difficult names. Place the pronouncer in parentheses right after the name. Consult the online Voice of America Pronunciation Guide for foreign names and words. The VOA Short List covers most names currently in the national and international news.

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell (KOH-lihn POW-ehl) will travel to Israel.

For local pronouncers, provide clear guides that can't be mistaken for any other pronunciation. In many cases you can use short, easily recognized words to indicate how to pronounce a syllable.

Tony can be TOH-nee or TOE-nee.

Refer to "A Pronunciation Guide for Kansas Place Names" for Kansas counties and cities. Two copies are kept in the broadcast newsroom.

The UPI guide to pronunciation is also useful:

A

AY = mate (mayt)
A = cat
AI = air
AH = father
AW = talk

E

EE = meet
EH = get
UH = the
IH = pretty
EW = few
E = per

 

I

EYE = time
EE = machine
IH = pity

O

OH = note or though
AH = hot
AW = fought
OO = fool or through
U = foot
OW = how or plough

U

EW = mule
OO = rule
U = put
UH = shut

Consonants

K = cat
S = cease
SH = machine
CH = catch
Z = disease
S = sun
G = gang
J = general

     

Oskaloosa = ah-skah-LOO-sah
Deanell Tacha = deh-NEHL TAH-hah (or deh-NELL)
New Madrid fault = MA-drihd (or MA-drid)
Gene Budig = BEW-dihg (or BEW-dig)

Quotes

The first and foremost way to quote is with a soundbite. If we aren't using a soundbite, we usually paraphrase what the source said -- we simplify and clarify the phrasing but don't quote directly. Occasionally -- rarely -- we need to read a direct quote. We only do it when it's necesssary because of the colorful or provocative nature of the words. In that case, use conversational language to alert the audience:

President Reagan said, and these were his exact words, "We will begin bombing Russia in five minutes."

The mayor says, and this is the way he puts it, "The councilman's idiotic proposal stinks to high heaven."

...and we're quoting her...

...in his words...

...as she put it...

Never say "quote... unquote" in broadcast copy. We are not court stenographers reading back testimony.

Wrong: President Reagan said, quote, "We will begin bombing Russia in five minutes," unquote.

Supers

Supers are words electronically superimposed on the screen. The basic format for a soundbite super has the name on the first line, followed by the title on the second line, separated by a slash:

Mike Amyx / Lawrence mayor

Get more specific formats for supers from the Multimedia Newsroom.

Times: see Numbers

Titles

Put titles before names.

K-U Chancellor Robert Hemenway

Not: Robert Hemenway, chancellor of K-U

Try to break up and/or shorten long titles sensibly.

The executive director of Lawrence Memorial Hospital says the new M-R-I facility is state of the art. Executive Director Gene Meyer says people will no longer need to drive to hospitals in Kansas City for M-R-I's.

Don't use the titles Mr., Mrs., Miss or Ms. in copy. Refer to people by their names.

Don't abbreviate titles in script copy; you may abbreviate them appropriately in Chyrons.

See also Degrees, Names

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