As a loyal follower of The Economist Style Guide in my decade-long career as a sub-editor, there are certain things I learned from it — and various style guides from newspapers like The Times of India, Mid Day and The Asian Age and magazines like Femina, Time N Style and Better Interiors — that any editorial person would do well to be careful about, whether you are on the desk or in the reporting team.
5 quick points for sub-editors to be careful about:
- Remove redundancy wherever you can. ‘A friend’ is better than ‘a friend of mine’.
- Keep sentences short and crisp.
- Use active voice wherever possible. Passive voice is to be resorted to only when there is no choice or the active voice doesn’t work in the context.
- Avoid cliches. To quote one of my favourite grammar books Strunk & White’s Elements of Style: Avoid clichés like the plague. (They’re old hat.)
- Never exaggerate. Understatement is best.
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