Difference between revisions of "Story Style"

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:'Moon is Made of Soylent Green Cheese', says NASA.
:'Moon is Made of Soylent Green Cheese', says NASA.
[[Category:Editorial team]]

Revision as of 16:06, 15 March 2014

This document is intended to form a manual of style that dictates the way stories are written, mainly in matters of format, punctuation, and grammar. The Manual of soylent Style will hopefully create a uniform presentation that is in line with journalistic practices, while leaving many matters open to the personal preferences of editors and submitters.

It is currently in its initial stages. Whereas some languages, like French and German, have standardized forms governed by regulatory bodies, English is in many ways a free-for-all. The laws presented below therefore reflect my (Mrgirlpluggedout) own personal preference.

Since no one has died and made me King of Soylent, my opinion does not outweigh the opinion of others. You are most welcome to add your own laws and examples to this document. I simply ask that instead of changing something that already exists, please make your reservations known in the talk page. Thank you, and happy soylenting!

What is a Manual of Style

Why a Manual of Style?

Story Structure

<p>Soylent Bob writes:</p>

<p>"Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Curabitur massa elit, pharetra sed lacus vitae, vehicula porta elit. Nulla 
ac porta nibh. 'Quisque adipiscing sem nisi, sit amet pulvinar velit vestibulum in', says 
Soylent Mel. Morbi luctus aliquet erat quis tempor. Nulla facilisi:</p>

<blockquote>Morbi leo purus, fermentum non felis vitae, mattis tempus mauris. Nunc bibendum neque non dolor pharetra, quis dignissim 
tortor semper. Phasellus sed nisl sit amet elit rutrum interdum. Ut rutrum pellentesque tempus.</blockquote>

<p>Integer id nisl vel ante sodales consectetur nec nec tortor. Suspendisse a congue est. Donec ut consectetur mauris. Duis hendrerit nibh 
nec quam consequat dapibus. Aenean luctus iaculis magna, aliquet aliquam nisi consectetur eget."</p>

<p>[ED's note: the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.]</p>

US/UK Spelling

Headline Capitalization

  1. Except for function words, all words are regularly capitalized in headlines, e.g. "'Moon Made of Soylent Green Cheese', Says NASA."
  2. Function words are:
    1. Prepositions, e.g. in, at, and on.
    2. Conjunctions, e.g. and, if, and but.
    3. Articles, i.e. the, an, and a.
    4. Pronouns, e.g. who, you, they, who, and which. The single exception is of course the pronoun I, which is always capitalized.
    5. The copula ("the verb to be"), e.g. is, am, and are.
  3. But when headline-initial, even function words are capitalized, 'Is Soylent Green Made of People?" (cf. Story_Style#Betteridge.27s_Law_of_Headlines).

Serial Comma

In a series of three or more items, place a comma between the second-to-last item and the conjunction that follows, e.g. "Soylent Green, Soylent Purple, and Soylent Yellow" instead of "Soylent Green, Soylent Purple and Soylent Yellow".

This is commonly referred to as the Harvard or Oxford Comma. It is often illustrated with the phrase "To my parents, Ayn Rand and God."


Betteridge's Law of Headlines

Any headline that ends in a question mark can be answered with one word -- no. The use of such questions in headlines is a journalistic device that is used when the story has little proof, no basis at all, or describes events that did not actually occur at the time of writing, i.e. not news.

Note that this axiom applies naturally applies only to yes/no questions rather than wh-questions.

Possessive S

  1. The possessive form of singular nouns is marked with 's, except for some archaic proper nouns that end in -es or -is, e.g. Moses' law (http://www.bartleby.com/141/strunk.html#1).
  2. The possessive form of plural nouns ending in s does not contain an s, e.g. pirates'.


  1. Apostrophes are used in the possessive form of nouns, e.g. soylent's (singular) and news' (plural).
  2. Apostrophes are not used to form the plural ending of nouns, e.g. the plural form of apple is apples, and its possessive form is apples'. Apple's is the possessive form of the singular apple, while apples' is the possessive form of the plural apples.
  3. Apostrophes are likewise not used with decades, when written in numbers, e.g. 1980s rather than 1980's.
  4. The form it's is a contraction of it is. The word its, on the other hand, is the possessive form of the pronoun it. This can be easily remembered by comparing the other third person pronouns: he's has an apostrophe because it is a contraction of he and is, whereas his never has one. The same also applies to hers and she's.

Hyper-Prescriptivism: Split Infinitives and Stranded Prepositions

  1. The use of adverbs between the word to and its following infinitive is allowed, e.g. to boldly go is just as acceptable as boldly, to go and to go boldly.

Weasel Words

Source Needed

Titles of Works

  1. The titles of books, films, albums, etc. are rendered in italics rather than quotation marks, e.g. Planet of the Apes instead of "Planet of the Apes".
  2. The names of websites and products receive no such marking, e.g. "CNN reports that Charlton Heston has discovered the secret ingredient in Soylent Green." Contrast this to the following sentence, in which Soylent Green is the film rather than the product: "CNN reports that Charlton Heston has discovered the secret ingredient in Soylent Green."


  1. Punctuation marks appear before closing quotation marks, e.g.
'Moon is Made of Soylent Green Cheese,' says NASA.

Instead of

'Moon is Made of Soylent Green Cheese', says NASA.