How to Write the Perfect Lawrence Article: Style Guide Edition

Whether you are writing for News, Opinions, Features, Arts, or Sports, everyone wants to write the perfect article.

Whether you are writing for News, Opinions, Features, Arts, or Sports, everyone wants to write the perfect article. Many have come close, submitting proficient essays and robust ideas but no one has succeeded. The last issue of The Lawrence rendered that unpleasant fact painfully obvious; each article was littered with errors. So now, despite my stark lack of qualifications, I will explain how to write the perfect The Lawrence article.

The most important component of an article is the topic. The best articles concern subjects that are either relatable or present something relevant to the reader’s life. For example, a good article might cover the recent work of the Visual Arts council or the Peer Tutoring council. A discussion of the boys Varsity Soccer Team snagging their first MAPL win in the Fall would also qualify as a strong theme. The aforementioned topics address widely-known happenings on campus and issues individual students are likely to be involved in, meaning they satisfy the need for a relevant topic. You should select such topics since they will attract curious readers and make for more pleasant reading. It should be noted that people especially like to read about themselves.

After establishing a good topic, you should focus on your evidence. If you’re writing for News or Features and find yourself conducting an interview, please refer to the Style Guide. I know, I know, the Style Guide runs fifteen pages long and nobody has time to read that while rushing their articles to completion just minutes before the deadline on Sunday night. The Style Guide contains valuable tips on how to approach interviews, though, and using it will help you solicit better support for your articles. Unfortunately, too many interviews fail to support the articles predicated on them, leaving The Lawrence to condemn those articles to the lengthy pile of dull, unpublished profiles. If you are writing for Opinions, utilize reliable online sources to assert your claim and list proper citations. The Style Guide bears tips for citing as well and using it might streamline the process of reporting evidence. Analyze your evidence appropriately, use statistical indicators where you can, and do not draw conclusions your evidence does not merit. Remember, an article is only as good as the evidence it carries.

The final integral quality of a good article—and tragically the most ignored—is grammar. Plenty of writers manage the first two guidelines and splice evidence with an engaging topic but struggle to incorporate grammatical conventions. Therefore, I again advise that you always adhere to one rule: follow the Style Guide. Yes, I understand that you scored well on the 2nd and 3rd Form grammar tests. You tutor your fellow students in the house and edit papers when asked. But, to borrow some words from copy editor Josh Cigoianu ‘22, “Grammar is the soul of an article, I cannot read a paragraph without punctuation.” You should still read the Style Guide in case you make a mild mistake, which, as every issue of The Lawrence attests, many supposed grammar experts are guilty of doing. Copy Editor Carina Li added, “Keep the Style Guide open. Please. I am serious.” In summary, for the sake of our Copy Editors, use the Style Guide.

I know you still think you don’t need to be told all of this. You understand that good topics and proper evidence are necessary. After all, you’re a Lawrenceville student. You’ve earned a steady diet of As and Bs in History and English, certainly the most rigorous departments. Obviously, you know how to wield periods and semicolons. However, if you have gotten this far through this article and this issue of The Lawrence without sighing in disappointment or at least raising an eyebrow, I am obliged to inform you that you do need to be told this. I will part with one more piece of advice: Navigate to the Style Guide cherished by Josh and Carina, read it, find all 20 stylistic errors in this article, and wallow in shame for not recognizing them beforehand.

Special thanks to Jonathan Ge ’18 for this article idea, inspired by the original “Style Guide Homicide” published in the 9/23/16 issue of The Lawrence. Wherever you are, I hope you’re well. I pray 137th Board Copy Editor Ricky Williams ’17 is finally getting the peace he so deserves. Perhaps, this article will give him *some* relief.

You may find the original article on page five of this PDF:

The 20 errors in this article and their corrections are listed below in the following order: paragraph in which the error is found, the error itself, and the corrected version.

1. First Paragraph: “submitting proficient essays and robust ideas but no one has succeeded.” Correction: comma after ideas because of FANBOYS. 2. First paragraph: “the perfect The Lawrence article.” Correction: Lawrence, not The Lawrence. 3. Second paragraph: “Visual Arts council.” Correction: Visual Arts Council (capitalize C) because it’s a proper noun. 4. Second paragraph: “Peer Tutoring council.” Correction: Peer Tutoring Council (capitalize C) because it’s a proper noun 5. Second paragraph: “boys Varsity Soccer Team.” Correction: Boys Varsity Soccer Team (B capitalized) because this is a name of a team. 6. Second paragraph: “their.” Correction: “Their” should be “its” because “team” is a singular noun.

7. Second paragraph: “MAPL.” Correction: “Mid-Atlantic Prep League (MAPL).” The first time an acronym is used, the full name should be written out prior with the acronym put in parenthesis. 8. Second paragraph: “Fall.” Correction: “fall.” Because “fall” is not part of a proper noun, it should be lowercase. 9. Third paragraph: “fifteen.” Correction: “15” because numbers 11 and up should be written numerically.

10. Third paragraph: “long.” Correction: There should be a comma after long (FANBOYS).

11. Fourth paragraph: “follow.” Correction: “Follow” should be uppercase because it starts a full sentence after a colon. 12. Fourth paragraph: “2nd.” Correction: “II” (Form). 13. Fourth paragraph: “3rd.” Correction: “III” (Form). 14. Fourth paragraph: “house.” Correction: “House” should be capitalized because it refers to Lawrenceville Houses. 15. Fourth paragraph: “copy editor.” Correction: “Copy Editor” should be capitalized as a title preceding a person’s name. 16. Fourth paragraph: “‘22.” Correction “’22.” (use the inverted apostrophe in honorifics). 17. Fourth paragraph: “Grammar is the soul of an article, I cannot read a paragraph without punctuation.” Correction: The comma should be a period or semicolon because the punctuation separates two independent clauses. 18. Fourth paragraph: “Copy Editor Carina Li.” Correction: “Copy Editor Carina Li ’22” (needs honorific). 19. Fifth Paragraph: “History and English.” Correction: “history and English” because history is not a proper noun. 20. Fifth Paragraph: “Josh and Carina.” Correction: “Cigoianu and Li.” After the first mention of a person, refer to them by last name only.


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