KDHX online writing style

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Overview

KDHX web properties are volunteer-produced information and entertainment outlets designed for consumption by a diverse, primarily English-speaking audience. In order to best focus on our content, our editorial guidelines define consistent and reader-friendly standards. While these guidelines have been developed to create an organization-wide, shared style for posting on the KDHX website.


Templateinclude-noticeicon.png Plagiarism, in any form, is not acceptable.

If you use more than two words (an original phrase) from another source, you must use quotation marks and cite the source.
For more info, read Plagiarism and syndication.



Standards

KDHX Specific

Use "DJs," not "programmers."

The correct telephone number format for the station is 314-664-3955, ext. 355.

"The" vs. "the"
Generally, do not capitalize “the"' for bands or venues or organizations in the middle of a sentence or in a headline, unless the "the" is a vital part of the brand.

- Los Lobos perform at the Sheldon Concert Hall. (Note that The Sheldon itself does not capitalize "the" when the name is part of "Concert Hall"; standing alone, The Sheldon does.
- Iris Dement performs at The Sheldon.
- I love the Beatles.

Newspapers and magazines are different:

- I write for The Riverfront Times, The Nation and The New York Times.

Composition titles follow the same convention:

- My two favorite CDs are "The Essential Leonard Cohen" and "The Beatles."

Radio shows and TV shows should preserve the capital "The" in all instances and should take quotation marks:

- I never miss "The Other One," "The Rhythm Section," "The Sopranos" and "Saturday Night Live."

Common Word Groups

Genres are not capitalized, with the exception of Americana, R&B, Tex-Mex, Southern rock and a handful of others.
There's a reason for such exceptions. E-mail Nick at kdhx dot org for clarification.

  • rock 'n' roll
  • a cappella
  • hip-hop
  • in-studio
  • frontman and frontwoman
  • lineup
  • A-side, B-side
  • mic (as the short form of microphone)
  • singer-songwriter
  • premiere
  • theater (in every case in text, unless referring to a proper noun: The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis)
  • OK (not okay)

Internet terms and capitalization

  • website
  • email
  • Internet
  • Web
  • online
  • blog

Collective nouns are nouns that refer to a single unit or group and take a singular verb (and pronoun):

- The crowd was excited.
- The audience is large.
- The team was proud.
- The band features three exceptional singers.

A musical group that has a singular name takes a singular noun and pronoun:

- Coldplay is returning to St. Louis.
- Boston is a classic-rock band, but it has made a mark on contemporary music.

Bands that have a plural name, take plural verbs and pronouns:

- The Beatles are the greatest band in pop history.
- The Antlers are coming to St. Louis; they have just released a new album.

Proper Nouns

St. Louis and other major cities
Some major cities do not need states after them when standing alone in text. St. Louis is one example, Detroit would be another.

Refer to this article at Word Wise for a full list of cities that fall under this rule.

Saint Louis University; not St. Louis University.


Geographic

Quick reminders:

- St. Louis not "Saint Louis."

When using a ZIP code: - ex. St. Louis, MO 63130

USA is always "USA" in both text and in headlines. No periods.
U.S. with periods is used in text, but in headlines use "US" with no periods.

State names

Spell out state names when they stand alone.

Spell out and include state names when a city and state are coupled in text.

- I live in Chicago, a big city on the shores of Lake Michigan.
- I live in Seattle, which is the coolest place on earth.
- He lives in Gary, Indiana.
- The concert was held in Columbus, Ohio.
- The fire began in California and spread northeast toward Reno, Nevada.

Directions and regions

For compass directions use lowercase north, south, northern, northeast, etc.

Capitalize these types of words when they designate regions, i.e., Midwest, Northeast, Western, etc.

Dates and Times

Times: 7:30 p.m. or 2 a.m. or noon or midnight.

Central standard time is CST. However, to simplify and avoid confusion about daylight saving time, all times, when targeted at a non-local audience, should be indicated with the word "Central": - ex. 7 a.m. Central

To indicate sequences or inclusive dates or times, use an en dash (or a single hyphen, with no spaces) instead of “to": - ex. Apply here May 7-9, 8 a.m.-4 p.m.

Numerical dates like "1/11/10" are not technically AP Style, and should be avoided in most cases; however, given the needs of KDHX, numerical dates are acceptable in titles and other listings.

Generally speaking, do not use “th,” “st” or “rd"' with dates.

- Incorrect: January 11th, 2010
- Correct: January 11, 2010

You may also abbreviate long months, when using the complete date.

- Correct: Jan. 11, 2010

For centuries, follow this rule:

- for numbers less than 10, spell out in lowercase: - ex. first century, seventh century
- for numbers 11 and higher: - ex. the 19th century, the 20th century, the 21st century

Punctuation and formatting

Quick reminders:

- Separate sentences using one space, not two.
- Commas and periods ALWAYS go inside quotation marks.
- Do not indent paragraphs, instead enter an extra return between paragraphs

Unless you are trying to avoid ambiguity, do not use a comma before the final "and" in a series: - ex. rock, rap and soul.

Never use the ampersand (&) unless it is officially part of a name, (i.e., name of a band, book, play, etc.).
Do not use an ampersand in tags or links for KDHX.org posts.

When making a plural noun possessive, just add an apostrophe: - ex. The books' jackets were torn.

- If the noun is singular but ends in an "s," add " 's": - ex. The bass's mouth was large.
- If it's a proper noun that ends in "s," just add an apostrophe: -ex. St. Louis' parks are precious.

Avoid unnecessary ellipses.

- Do not use to indicate pauses or disjointed thoughts.
- Use only when deleting words from a quotation.
- Include a space before and after the ellipsis: - ex. Bob Dylan said, "The answer ... is blowing in the wind."
- If the material deleted forms a complete sentence, consider punctuating like this: - ex. The volunteer wrote, "I don't understand your rules. ... Please explain them."

Hyperlinking

Unless absolutely necessary, do not write out URLs in copy. Instead, use the name of the institution, company or website and link it.

- Incorrect: Visit filmchallenge.org for more information.
- Correct: Visit National Film Challenge for more information.

Moreover, use semantic linking wherever possible. The linked text should describe what is being linked instead of naming the destination:

- Incorrect: Listen to the new Nada Surf album at NPR Music.
- Correct: Listen to the new Nada Surf album.

Numbering

Generally, spell out numbers under 10; otherwise use figures for numbers.
Exceptions are made for ages and statistical context. (More detail below.)

- Apples, oranges and peaches are my three favorite fruits.
- I made a top 10 list for 2011.

Spell out fractions less than 1 in text, using hyphens between words: - two-thirds, four-fifths, seven-sixteenths.
Use figures for more than 1 in text: - ex. 1 1/2, 2 3/4, 5 1/8.
Preferably, convert to decimals: - ex. The average household is 2.5 individuals.

Always spell out the number at the start of a sentence: - ex. Two awesome DJs spun records last night.

Use figures for ages:

- KDHX is 22 years old.
- KDHX is a 22-year-old radio station.
- My pet is a 3-year-old cat.

When using numerals in a statistical or "countable" context, do not spell out. Always use figures (unless at the start of a sentence):

- Currently, almost 9 percent of the U.S. is out of work.
- The cost of the average CD is $8.
- It is not surprising that 1 in 4 KDHX listeners likes the Beatles.

Spell out million and billion, and precede with figures, up to two decimals: - ex. There were 4.35 million MP3s downloaded in 2009. However, there were approximately 7,542,000 MP3s deleted from teenagers' iTunes in 2009.

For ordinals (first, second, third etc.) spell out first through ninth when indicating sequence in time or location: - ex. second base, the First Amendment, she was fourth in line.

- Starting with 10th, use figures: - ex. 11th, 12th, 13th etc.
- Use 1st, 2nd, 3rd etc. only when the ordinal is part of a formal name: - ex. The 1st Ward of St. Louis, the 2nd District Court.

For decades, use figures: - ex. '60s, '70s, '80s etc.


Hyphenation

When in doubt, do not hyphenate. Compound modifiers are an exception: ex. "fast-paced action," "finely-spun cloth," "pitch-shifted vocals," "well-written essay" and "golden-haired hamster."

Use the em dash ( -- ) when creating a parenthetical or for appositive effect. Make the dash by typing the word, then a space, then two hyphens, then a space, then the next word: ex. I like chips -- especially potato chips.


Titling

Song titles go in quotation marks and use standard capitalization: ex. "The Long and Winding Road"

Album, movie and play titles go in quotation marks: ex. "Abbey Road," "The Godfather" and "Hamlet."

Titles refer to composition titles (names of plays, songs, albums, novels).

For titles:

  • Do not italicize titles.
  • All substantial nouns, verbs, adjectives etc. are capitalized.
  • Prepositions, pronouns and conjunctions which are 4 letters or more are always capitalized: ex. "I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One" by Yo La Tengo is a great album.
  • The first and last word of a book, song, movie etc. title are always capitalized, regardless of letter count: ex. “To Be or Not to Be In” is a strange title for a song.
  • When a composition title appears in a headline, use single quote marks: ex. John Hiatt continues his bluesy streak on 'Dirty Jeans and Mudslide Hymns'
  • Newspaper, magazine and blog names do not go in quotation marks, nor are they italicized: ex. The New York Times, Rolling Stone, Atlantic Monthly, Consequence of Sound.

Headlines

For headlines (i.e., a KDHX.org website article,) capitalize every word, with the exception of prepositions:

- ex. KDHX Welcomes the Twangfest Festival to St. Louis, Starting June 9, 2010

Use figures for all numerals in headlines and use single quote marks instead of double:

- ex. KDHX charts featured 3 bluegrass albums this week: 'Paper Airplane,' 'The Essential Bill Monroe' and 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?'

Notes on Use of Software

Turn off "smart quotes" or "curly quotes" in Microsoft Word. These are the bane of web publishing.

To turn them off - Tools > Autocorrect > Autoformat as You Type

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- Uncheck the box by "Straight quotes" with "smart quotes."

That's how it works on Mac Word.

If that doesn't work, try searching the Help menu in Word for "smart quotes" or "curly quotes."

- Be very careful when pasting from a Google or Word doc into an online text editor. Use plain text to paste in!
- Consider prepping your text by pasting it into the Convert Microsoft Word to Plain Text tool, which will auto-magically scrub out the nasty characters for you.