Cleaning you Copy

By: Aaron Oberlin

When a writer finishes a story, it needs to be made sure it is clean.  If it is not clean, then a reader will notice.  If it happens too many times, it can frustrate a reader.  The simplest thing for a reader to do is stop reading.  When the copy is clean no one will notice, but people will notice if there are errors.
To avoid this, the NewsU class “Cleaning you Copy” taught a writer the ability to:
-Identify and solve grammatical problems in a copy.
-Pick the right word when choosing between tricky pairs such as “that/which,” “that/who” and “who/whom.”
-Use the AP correct style for addresses, ages, money and numbers.
-Identify and correct common punctuation errors.
-Correctly spell words that are tough to get right.
-Avoid typos caused by homonym trip-ups.
A “Cleaning your Copy” quiz starts the course.  The purpose of the quiz is to help the student better understand their strengths and weaknesses in copyediting.
The second part of the lesson is grammar.  It divides into sections: modifiers, pronouns, that/which, who/whom, verbs, lay/lie, contractions and parallel constructions.
The third part of the lesson is style.  Style can be seen in the papers someone types for a class.  In Advanced Reporting, the style is AP.  In some English composition classes, the style is MLA.  Some other styles include APA.    Style is important because it creates consistency.
The fourth part of the lesson is punctuation.  Punctuation sets the tone of the story, and it can help identify the writer’s voice.  It also tells a reader when to stop and pause.
The fifth part of the lesson is spelling.  It covers common misspelled words and confusing words and homonyms.
The last part of the section is the “Copy Quotient Test.”  It is a test that gives a student a chance to test what he/she learned.
The course is similar to Writing for the Mass Media at the University of South Florida. This class is better because there is not a required payment for three credit hours, and it can be done at any pace.  It covers many basics that any reporter and editor should already know.  It was a good review, which needs to be done every now and then.


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