Writing guides

Editing and Proofreading Strategies: Editing and proofreading are writing processes different from revising. Editing can involve extensive rewriting of sentences, but it usually focuses on sentences or even smaller elements of the text. Proofreading is the very last step writers go through to be sure that the text is presentable. Proofreading generally involves only minor changes in spelling and punctuation. This guide presents strategies for editing and for proofreading.

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Writing Guides

Composing Processes: Planning and Organizing

These guides provide advice on composing processes such as developing ideas, choosing and refining topics, reading critically, planning your document, and organizing your ideas. Use these guides to help yourself start and prepare to write a document.

Understanding Writing Situations: Many of us think of writing as a solitary activity — something done when we’re alone in a quiet place. Yet most of our writing, like other forms of communication — telephone conversations, classroom discussions, meetings, and presentations — is an intensely social activity. In this guide, you can learn more about the situations in which writers and readers find themselves and the physical, social, cultural, and historical contexts that shape them.

Understanding Your Purpose: The first question for any writer should be, "Why am I writing?" "What is my goal or my purpose for writing?" For many writing contexts, your immediate purpose may be to complete an assignment or get a good grade. But the long-range purpose of writing is to communicate to a particular audience. In order to communicate successfully to your audience, understanding your purpose for writing will make you a better writer. Read more about purpose in this guide.

Adapting to Your Audience: When we talk to someone face-to-face, we know just who we are talking to. We automatically adjust our speech to be sure we are communicating our message. Many writers don’t make those same adjustments when they write to different audiences, usually because they don’t take the time to think about who will be reading what they write. To be sure that we communicate clearly in writing, we need to adjust our message–how we say to and what information we include–by recognizing that different readers can best understand different messages. This guide helps writers to consider the issue of audience.

Choosing and Refining Topics: When we are given a choice of topics to write on, or are asked to come up with our own topic ideas, we must always make choices that appeal to our own interests, curiosity, and current knowledge. If you decide to write an essay on same sex marriage, for instance, it is obvious that you should make that decision because you are interested in the issue, know something about it already, and/or would like to know more about it. However, because we rarely write solely for our own satisfaction, we must consider matters other than our own interests as we choose topics. Read this guide for further discussion of this issue.

Maintaining Your Focus: To focus your writing, you’ll need to know how to narrow your focus, so you don’t overwhelm your readers with unnecessary information. Knowing who your readers are and why you are writing will help you stay focused. Learn more about the importance of focus in this guide.

Critical Reading: Critical reading is a vital part of the writing process. In fact, reading and writing processes are alike. In both, you make meaning by actively engaging a text. As a reader, you are not a passive participant, but an active constructor of meaning. Exhibiting an inquisitive, "critical" attitude towards what you read will make anything you read richer and more useful to you in your classes and your life. This guide is designed to help you to understand and engage this active reading process more effectively so that you can become a better critical reader.

Taking Notes: Note taking is an integral skill for learning college material and for writing effective papers and essay exams. Consult this guide for tips about note taking in both lectures and classroom discussions and for moving from your notes to other kinds of writing.

Evaluating Sources: Learning how to evaluate sources can save you a great deal of time and increase the effectiveness of your papers. In this guide, we explore the key strategies experienced researchers use to evaluate their sources.

Planning an Argument: An argument mediates among many concerns: the knowledge, interest, opinions and position of the author–as well as that of the audience–and the language, style and organizational expectations of the discipline in which it is based. To learn more about this and about planning a written argument, see this guide.

Organizing Documents: In our conversations with others, we present our ideas in a logical order. This way, we make sense to our listeners. Typically, we relate events in the order they occurred, so our listeners don’t become confused as they follow our ideas. In writing, the pattern we present our ideas in is called organization. Writers need to know about organizational patterns because readers expect what they read to make sense logically. Choosing an organizational pattern for your writing means knowing what patterns are acceptable for your topic and within your discipline. Some types of organization work better than others, depending on the information you need to convey. Read this guide to learn more about using organization effectively in your writing.

15 Top Writing Guides for Novelists

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There comes a time when you have to put down other people’s books and start writing your own. But if you don’t feel you’ve gotten to that point yet, or you’d just like a shot in the arm (or a more definitive blow to another part of your anatomy), explore these excellent writing workshops in print:

1. The Art of War for Writers: Fiction Writing Strategies, Tactics, and Exercises
Author and writing instructor James Scott Bell mirrors the ancient strategic guide The Art of War in this 2009 book, discussing reconnaissance (preparing to write), tactics (writing advice), and strategy (how to get published) in short, sharp bursts of wisdom and example.

2. Becoming a Writer
Dorothea Brande was far ahead of her time when she wrote this book in 1934. Instead of writing a nuts-and-bolts guide, she focused on the qualitative aspects: artistry, self-actualization, the role of the unconscious mind, and more.

3. Elements of Fiction Writing: Beginnings, Middles & Ends
Nancy Kress’s 2011 book is more suited for aspiring writers than more seasoned ones, but it is full of suggestions and techniques for hooking the reader from the first sentence and sustaining interest from scene to scene all the way through to the end.

4. Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life
Anne Lamott’s autobiographical writing guide from 1995 isn’t for everyone, but it’s full of honest, humorous reflections about the writing life, with frank, funny admissions that give you permission to be human, too.

5. How to Grow a Novel: The Most Common Mistakes Writers Make
Longtime novelist and fiction editor Sol Stein’s 1999 guide is predicated on his belief that writers must focus not on themselves but on their readers. Despite the apparently self-aggrandizing title, his 2000 follow-up, Stein on Writing: A Master Editor of Some of the Most Successful Writers of Our Century Shares His Craft Techniques and Strategies, is also highly recommended.

6. Make a Scene: Crafting a Powerful Story One Scene at a Time
Jordan Rosenfeld’s 2007 guide to constructing a great story scene by scene analyzes examples representing a wide variety of styles and types of scenes, demonstrating how the narrative arc, character development, and other elements of fiction writing are all dependent on well-constructed vignettes.

7. Novelist’s Essential Guide to Crafting Scenes
Novelist and writing instructor Raymond Obstfeld, like Rosenfeld, emphasizes how skillfully crafted scenes are the heart of a successful story. This comprehensive guide from 2000 is suitable for novices and experienced writers alike.

8. On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft
Though much of Stephen King’s 2000 tome is autobiographical, it also contains many useful tips for writers, from technical matters such as grammar to thoughts about character and plot. A valuable element is a section that includes a rough draft and an edited draft of one of his stories. Even if you consider King a middlebrow writer, you can’t deny that he is a master of his craft, and we should be so fortunate.

9. On Writing Well
Veteran journalist, nonfiction writer, and writing instructor William Zinsser, a champion of word economy, writes, “Writing improves in direct ratio to the number of things we can keep out of it.” This book, first published in 1974 but timeless, reinforces that credo; also check out his more recent guide, Writing to Learn.

10. Self-Editing for Fiction Writers: How to Edit Yourself into Print
Unlike most guides on this list, Renni Browne and Dave King’s 1993 work focuses not on the craft of writing but on the next step: editing your own work. The authors discuss dialogue, interior monologue, exposition, point of view, and other elements of story, with examples, exercises, and checklists.

11. Steering the Craft: Exercises and Discussions on Story Writing
Based on a writing workshop offered by legendary science fiction author Ursula K. LeGuin, this 1998 collection of discussions and writing exercises includes such tasks as eschewing punctuation or adjectives and adverbs, or halving a story’s word count.

13. Word Painting: A Guide to Write More Descriptively
Poet Rebecca McClanahan, in this 1999 publication, provides writing instruction and writing exercises along with excerpts and advice from greater writers to help others develop their observational skills and descriptive powers.

14. Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within
In this 1986 book, Natalie Goldberg suggests taking a Zen approach to writing, expanding on the concept of free writing to suggest what she calls writing practice. Like free writing, writing practice involves unstructured, uninhibited writing exercises, but is also about self-reflection.

Keep learning! Browse the Fiction Writing category, check our popular posts, or choose a related post below:

I love your list! Another book I have thought was good was Julia Cameron’s The Artist Way. It isn’t specific to writing, but it is great for a person who just can’t get started and just needs to get over their fear in writing. Thank you for great recommendations!

Great list!! I have a few of the books on here and love them. I’d highly recommend adding a 16th book to your list, however–Story Engineering: Mastering The 6 Core Competencies of Successful Writing, by Larry Brooks. It just came out last month and as far as I see it, it’s the last book about writing I’ll ever need to buy.

I have a copy of each of the books in the “Elements of Fiction Writing” series that you mention. Mine are the older hardcover versions, but I presume the text is exactly the same. They are extremely helpful, and I’ve used them for help on many occasions.

My very favorite writing-help book is “How To Write Science Fiction and Fantasy” by Orson Scott Card, who has written many excellent books in those genres. About a third to half of the book is information that applies specifically to science fiction and fantasy, but the rest is information that is helpful for any genre, such as understanding who the characters are and what they need to get done for the story to make sense and end properly. (Card also wrote a book in the aforementioned “Elements of Fiction Writing” series, the one entitled “Characters and Viewpoint”, which I also like very much.)

“On Writing Well” is outstanding — I would highly recommend it to anyone who wants to choose just one or two books from this list. Zinsser’s own writing is fluid and effortless, a good model to live up to. He earns his place as a trustworthy teacher.

Getting the most out of a style guide

Know when to consult it

  • Headline capitalization: AP style uses sentence case, while Chicago uses title case, and APA uses each in different situations. House style is often different from any of these.
  • Citation: MLA, APA and Chicago each offer templates for citing sources within a paper or a reference list.
  • Punctuation: Notably, guides differ in their recommendations for the Oxford comma, the percent symbol, hyphens and dashes.
  • Numbers: Whether to spell a number or use a figure varies among style guides and even within each, depending on how you use the number. Also look up how to handle dates, ages and time.
  • Compound words: Recommendations for compounds change quickly, especially as words become common. Check a current guide for whether to write health care, healthcare, or health-care , for example.
  • Abbreviations and acronyms: Should you use a state abbreviation (like Fla.) or a postal code (like FL)… or always spell it out? In acronyms like U.S., do you need the periods? AP says yes, Chicago says you can go either way.
  • Formatting: Chicago and APA italicize book titles, while AP uses quotation marks around them. Guides also include preferences for formatting bulleted lists, block quotes, sentence spacing and more.
  • Words about technology: Common usage changes quickly, and your content can look outdated if it doesn’t keep up — for example, a hyphen in “e-mail” or capitalizing “Internet.” Check your current style guide for recommendations, but also address these in house style if conventional guidance doesn’t make sense for your audience .
  • Brand names: Will you use camel case for eBay and iPhone? All-caps for IKEA? A hyphen in Wal-Mart or Walmart? Style guides make recommendations, but this is another area house style should address more thoroughly for your audience.
  • Identifying groups of people: The boundaries for respectful and inclusive language are ever-shifting, so terms you’re accustomed to could be outdated. AP style, complementary media guides and APA style include up-to-date guidance based on common usage and recommendations from advocacy groups. Refer to those if your industry guide doesn’t include preferences.

Don’t deviate if you don’t have to

If you have the privilege of contributing to a company’s or publication’s style guide, start with an industry-standard guide (AP, Chicago or APA) as a base, and stick to it unless you have a compelling reason not to.

Writers and editors in your industry are likely familiar with the basics of the common style guide, but every in-house idiosyncrasy is a detail you have to teach each freelancer and new hire you work with. It’s also an opportunity to appear incorrect to readers and peers.

Don’t sweat the small stuff

Writers, familiarize yourself with big style differences and important in-house preferences, but don’t get preoccupied with minute details. Editors are there to correct those; it’s not worth your time to spend all day perusing a style guide for answers.


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Writing guides

While these style guides provide a good reference point for basic grammar rules, you’ll probably want to make some exceptions to the rules therein for the sake of branding, tone, and style. Use this section of your editorial style guide to outline those exceptions and also to highlight some of the rules that commonly arise when writing for your company that people should commit to memory — regardless of whether it is aligned with or against house style. For example:

Free Download: How to Create a Style Guide [+ Free Templates]

Article Writing Guide

First, write a plan for the article. It is necessary to draw a clear line from the purpose of the study to the result to better understand the objectives and logic of the description. Then, following a clear sequence, formulate the results and compare the relevance of the topic to the research problem.

Carefully review and read the articles of your colleagues on the same topic. Focus on the bibliographic platforms Scopus and Web of Science, because they contain exactly the scientific content that appeals to the novelty, uniqueness and practicality of research. Such monitoring will help to get acquainted with the method of design and content of scientific works on a global scale, and the scientist cites relevant articles in his work. Colleagues will see your activity and may offer cooperation and feedback.

The article should be printed in "MS Word" in "docx" or "rtf" format. Each magazine has its own design style. We advise you to carefully read the requirements of the publication. However, for convenience when writing, we recommend aligning the article in width; margins: top – 2 cm; lower – 2 cm; left – 2 cm; right – 2 cm; font: "Times New Roman", its size – 12 pt; line spacing – 1.0.

It is important to pay attention to writing a dash (“-”) and a hyphen (“-”), as well as using the necessary quotation marks (“”). It is forbidden to put unnecessary indents in the text. It is not allowed to tear the surname and initials. Also, never replace characters to increase the uniqueness of the text.

The work should be structured according to IMRAD . The structure of " IMRAD " provides the following sections: introduction – introduction, materials, and methods – materials and methods, results – results, discussion – 0discussion. You also need to make general conclusions to the work and describe them in the section conclusions – conclusions. Various modifications of IMRAD can be used to structure research in other fields of science. For example, in review articles, sections are allowed to be selected arbitrarily, depending on the information presented in the paper. But in no case is an " artificial " the structure allowed when the information provided does not match the section.

The title of the article allows you to expand the search for similar scientific papers. It is desirable that it does not exceed 12 words. If you want the title to attract attention and stand out from other works, it should be composed as follows:

Each scientific article should raise a topical issue and have its own novelty. The text of the scientific work is an in-depth analytical material that reveals and describes the whole essence of the research with examples of the obtained data. Reviewers of international databases carefully look at the results, which will be an important contribution to world science in a particular subject area.

The annotation reflects the summary of the scientific work. It must be properly structured according to the following parameters: relevance of scientific research; goal; methods used to achieve this goal; main results of work. It is important to indicate the recommendations and the audience for whom the research will be useful. Based on the read annotation, other scientists will draw conclusions about the article: to continue to get acquainted with scientific work or find other materials on this topic. Translation of the annotation into English will allow foreign scholars to get acquainted with it. The abstract should contain from 150 to 300 words.

These words are the meaning of scientific work. Thanks to them, other authors find it easier to find the necessary materials in electronic databases. These 4-6 words and phrases are prescribed immediately after the annotation. They should reflect the field of science, topic, purpose and object of research, but no word should repeat the title of the article.

The introduction is very important and difficult to describe the section of the article. It is necessary to show the value of the experiment for the scientific community, to formulate the main theses and to tell about previous research on this topic, as well as to identify the main tasks and hypotheses. This section should not contain " water " and general information. Mandatory criterion – at least 5 references to literature.

In the section Materials and methods, the scientist describes the whole research process. It indicates the materials and methods, tools that were used when writing the article. It is important to clarify in the work: it is an experiment or theoretical research. If you don’t know where to start, check out other articles on similar topics.

Results the section in which it is necessary to register the received results. Conclusions should be presented in the form of figures or tables and consist of clear data obtained during the scientific work. The author can re-specify the purpose and methodology, and even prescribe difficulties, if any, during the work.

Writing guides

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This initiative was announced in October 2021 as part of a 800 million commitment from an anonymous donor in honor of their mother, a lifelong educator, in order to allow more Southwestern students to benefit from high impact experiences as outlined in the Tactical Plan.

What happens when you start a devised theater project with three Southwestern University students and the Anton Checkov play, The Cherry Orchard? You end up with a nationally recognized production called G.H.O.S.T. Unit: The Live Event.

What Not to Include In Your Style Guide

It can be tempting to create the most comprehensive style guide of all time. But when documents get incredibly long, it can become a little hard to use on a day-to-day basis. Aim for "comprehensive, yet usable" by intentionally cutting some sections. The most common sections that people are tempted to include, but which I recommend exist in another document, are:

Your editorial style guide will simply guide writers by providing a set of standards to which they must adhere when creating content for your website. It eliminates confusion, guesswork, and debates over what boils down to a matter of editorial opinion among grammar and content geeks. If you’re ever unsure whether something should or should not exist in your written style guide, fall back on usage to inform your decision. If it’s too long to be usable, cut it down; if it’s too short to answer the most common questions, beef it up.

How to Get Others to Use Your Style Guide

Here’s the truth: Some people just aren’t going to use it, no matter how easy you make it for them to do so. So just. accept that. But after you’re done grieving, there are a few things you can do to increase the likelihood of adoption:

1. Involve other people in its creation from the get-go.

No one wants to be the Grammar Czar. And if you do, I promise you no one you work with thinks its cute. Instead of mandating the rules your entire company must use when writing, get a few people together to help create the style guide as a group. Ideally, this little committee will span more than one department to increase the likelihood of widespread adoption.

2. Make it easy to find and use.

3. Keep updating it.

Your style guide is intended to be a living document. As new questions arise, make it easy for writers to ask questions about proper usage and get a resolution — and make sure that resolution is reflected in an updated version of the style guide.


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