If I have witnessed one thing about the JOU3109 lab over the past nine semesters of teaching it, it is that deadlines are what make this class difficult. Many of you are new to writing in Associated Press style. So when an assignment is due by the end of class, it is perfectly natural to feel some pressure.
Here are some ways to make your writing process go a little smoother for you.
Style, grammar and spelling:
Always bring your AP Stylebook with you to lab as of Week 3. Bookmark rules we have gone over in the book with Post-It tags or something that enables you to turn quickly to the referenced rule. If you are using the app on your phone, you can select the rules and put them on a favorites list. The book is also online http://www.apstylebook.com/.
As for spelling, our go-to dictionary is Merriam-Webster. If there is a question between two acceptable spellings, this dictionary will serve as the standard for the entire semester.
Editing/proofreading quick tips:
- Reading aloud –If you read aloud, you can hear what the text sounds like. You may catch a wording that does not sound right, and there it will be – an error. If it feels strange to read your article with others around you, you can step briefly outside. This technique is definitely worth it.
- Check marks –Use them. I have consistently noticed a difference in fact error frequency when students slowly check over each proper name, address, and statement of figure. Do not rush. The ideal strategy is to give you time.
- Planning ahead –Take two-thirds of your allotted time to write your draft. Use the remaining time to proofread and polish your article. You should aim to finish your draft at least 15 minutes before the deadline. If you are writing your draft until the last few minutes, you will not have the time to properly proofread.
- The pen/pencil –Use an object to force yourself to read your article one line at a time by placing the pen over the next line. This breaks up the rhythm and forces you to analyze the mechanics.
- Take a break –Stand up. Go outside. Get a drink or snack from the snack machine. Walk back in. Read your article once more before you turn it in. With a fresh pair of eyes, you may just spot an error.