Working with Words: A Handbook for Media Writers and Editors / Edition 6

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For anyone who works with words - especially journalists, writers and editors - this book belongs next to the dictionary and style manual on your reference shelf. Working With Words is a concise, thorough and up-to-date guide to grammar and usage that addresses the problems professional writers encounter every day. First, the authors review the basics of grammar and answer common questions about subjects and objects, verbs, modifiers, connecting words, sentences and punctuation. The book then covers the fundamentals of usage, with sound advice on issues of particular concern to writers and editors: tightening your prose, eliminating muddled language, avoiding linguistic bias and avoiding unintentional racism and sexism in your writing. For easy reference, the book includes time-saving lists of commonly misspelled and misused words, cliches and other problems with usage, diction, style and spelling, along with a summary of wire service style, a useful appendix that lists the most common usage mistakes and a full index. This practical, informative handbook synthesizes information from more than forty reference sources to help writers master both the essentials and the more sophisticated rules necessary for clear, effective communication in print.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312442675
  • Publisher: Bedford/St. Martin's
  • Publication date: 12/22/2005
  • Format: Spiral Bound
  • Edition description: Sixth Edition
  • Edition number: 6
  • Pages: 384
  • Product dimensions: 6.25 (w) x 9.15 (h) x 0.78 (d)

Meet the Author

Brian S. Brooks is associate dean for undergraduate studies and administration at the University of Missouri School of Journalism. In addition to coauthoring News Reporting and Writing for Bedford/St. Martin’s, he is coauthor of Telling the Story, Third Edition (2007), Working with Words, Sixth Edition (2006), and The Art of Editing (2009).

James L. Pinson has taught journalism for about twenty-five years at the Missouri School of Journalism and at Eastern Michigan University,and has addressed various press groups on the subjects of grammar and other editing skills. He has also worked for newspapers in Colorado, Missouri, and Michigan, and has a doctorate in journalism and a master's in creative writing.

Jean Gaddy Wilson leads executives worldwide in creating successful strategies for the future. While on the Missouri School of Journalism faculty, she founded three national journalism organizations: New Directions for News, Journalism and Women's Symposium, and the National Women and Media Collection. She was a founding member of the Council of Presidents, an organization of the leading editorial organizations in newspapers, and of the International Women's Media Foundation. She has served as a Pulitzer Prize Nominating Juror for Journalism and currently serves as a consultant to international organizations.

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Table of Contents


Brief Contents

Introduction for Students

[Part One] Grammar and Usage

Chapter 1: Grammar Basics

Using Standard English

  Why Don't We Write How We Talk?

  Conventional Wisdom

  Competing Grammars and Stylebooks

  Grammar and Confidence

  Communicating Well

Talking Shop

Key Principles Of Grammar

Web Resources: Grammar Help

Chapter 2: Phrases, Clauses, and Sentences


  Phrases as Subjects, Objects and Predicate Nominatives

  Phrases as Verbs

  Phrases as Modifiers

  Phrases as Connecting Words


  Independent Clauses

  Dependent Clauses

Restrictive Versus Nonrestrictive

Journalism Tip: Punctuating Nonrestrictive Phrases and Clauses


Journalism Tip: Using Different Types of Sentences

Sentence Errors


  Fused Sentences

  Comma-Splice Sentences

  Run-On Sentences

Chapter 3: Subjects and Objects

Kinds of Subjects

Kinds of Objects

Common Nouns Versus Proper Nouns

Journalism Tip: Using Trademarks

The Forms Nouns Take

  Forming Singulars and Plurals Of Nouns

  Forming Possessives of Nouns

Pronoun Person, Number and Gender

Pronoun Cases

  Nominative Case With Pronouns

Journalism Tip: Predicate Nominatives in Formal Writing Versus Broadcast

  Objective Case With Pronouns

  Possessive Case With Pronouns

Relative Pronouns

  Whose Versus Who's

Pronouns Ending In Self or Selves

Verbal Nouns: Gerunds and Infinitives

Chapter 4: Verbs

Helping Verbs Versus Main Verbs

Transitive Verbs Versus Intransitive Verbs


  Using the Simple Tenses

  Using the Perfect Tenses

  Using the Progressive Tenses

  Shall Versus Will

  Regular Verbs Versus Irregular Verbs

Sequence of Tenses

  Past Tenses

  Present Tenses

Journalism Tip: Journalism and Sequence Of Tenses

  Future Tenses

Keeping Verb Tenses Consistent

Active Voice Versus Passive Voice

Journalism Tip: When Not To Change Passive Voice to Active


  Indicative Mood

  Imperative Mood

  Conditional Mood

  Subjunctive Mood

Journalism Tip: Verb Moods

Nouns Used As Verbs





Chapter 5: Making the Parts Agree



Collective and Uncountable Nouns

Journalism Tip: Groups of People in the News

Names of Teams and Musical Groups

Other Confusing Nouns

Indefinite Pronouns

Intervening Nouns and Pronouns

Prepositional Phrases

Subject and Predicate Nominative Disagreement

Inverted Order


Pronoun-Antecedent Agreement

Clear Pronoun Reference


Make Items in A Series Parallel

Make Verbs Parallel

Chapter 6: Modifiers and Connecting Words


Forms of Adjectives and Adverbs

Adjectives Versus Adverbs

Coordinate Adjectives Versus Compound Modifiers

Journalism Tip: Compound Modifiers Without Hyphens


Sentence Adverbs


Double Negatives





  Coordinating Conjunctions

  Correlative Conjunctions

  Subordinating Conjunctions

Conjunctive Adverbs

Chapter 7: Getting Words in the Right Order

Misplaced Modifiers

Adverb Placement

Less Confusing Jumbled Word Orders

Chapter 8: Usage: Finding the Right Word

Journalism Tip: Conservative Stylebook Rules

Misused and Confused Words and Phrases

[Part Two]: Mechanics

Chapter 9: Punctuation


  Always Use a Comma

  Never Use a Comma

  Possibly Use a Comma

Quotation Marks and Other Problems of Quoting

  What to Quote

  Attribution of Quotations


  Quotations Across Paragraphs

  Other Issues With Quotes








Periods, Exclamation Points and Question Marks

Chapter 10: Spelling Relief

Spelling Rules



Journalism Tip: Spelling and Your Career

  The Silent E

  Other Spelling Rules

Words Often Misspelled

Hyphenation as a Spelling Problem

  Looking Up Words for Hyphenation

  One Word, Two Words, or Hyphenated?

American Versus British Spelling

Web Resources: Spelling

[Part Three] Style

Chapter 11: Writing as a Journalist

Keys to Good Journalistic Writing


  A Clarity Checklist

  Writing Levels

  Unanswered Questions


  Math and Clarity



  Rules of Objective Writing

Web Resources: Writing Help

Chapter 12: Conciseness


  Use Fewer Words

  Use Simpler Words

  Use Exact Words

  Be Fresh, Not Stale

What to Tighten, A to Z

Web Resources: Concise Writing

Chapter 13: Sexism, Racism, and Other "Isms"


Language Turns To the Future

New Players in the New Millennium

A Brief History of "Isms"

Future Realities: More Language Transformation Coming

Dealing With Current Reality




  Other Stereotyping

The Nonbias Rule

Symbolic Annihilation

Dumping Today

Web Resources: Competent Language

[Part Four] Writing Methods for Different Media

Chapter 14: Writing News That

News Leads

Pick the Best Angle

Hard-News Leads

  Who Was Involved?

  What Happened?

  When Did It Happen?

  Where Did It Happen?

Problems With Hard-News Leads

Soft-News Leads

Soft-News Cliches

What Comes After The Lead?

Web Resources: Journalism Reviews

Chapter 15: Writing News for Broadcast

Print Versus Broadcast News

  Use a Conventional Style

  Personalize the News

  Make It Easy To Understand

  Keep It Short

  Keep It Timely

  Make It Clear

Broadcasters Must Know Grammar

Broadcast Hard-News Leads

  Start With the Who

  What Happened?

  Other Points to Remember

Broadcast Story Structure

Broadcast Style Summary

  Preparing Your Manuscript for Radio

  Preparing Your Manuscript for Television

  Editing and Other Symbols







Web Resources: Broadcasting

Chapter 16: Writing and Editing for the Web

Online Media Are Unique

  Correctness (Or Credibility)




  The Fifth C

Writing and Presenting News Online

  Writing With Search Engines In Mind

  Legal and Ethical Concerns


  Hyperlinks to External Sites

  Tomorrow's Readers

Web Resources: Online Media

Appendix: Wire-Service Style Summary

Abbreviations and Acronyms




  People and Titles





  Proper Nouns

  Geographic Regions

  Government And College Terms

  Religious Terms




  Cardinal Numbers

  Numerals With Suffixes

  Numbers as Words

  Other Rules for Numbers

Web Resources: Associated Press Style



Web Resources: Additional Sources

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