Lan­guage: Eng­lish (Amer­i­can spellings)

Memo to free­lancers, reporters and writ­ers:

Design is impor­tant, but pri­mar­ily to make con­tent acces­si­ble. With­out good con­tent, the design means lit­tle. Our prime aim is to give infor­ma­tion that other sources lack the energy or nerve to report. Read­ers want seri­ous infor­ma­tion. They are adults and want to be treated that way. They care about qual­ity, pro­duc­tiv­ity and eco­nom­ics.  Their top pri­or­i­ties lie with data that affect their lives.

As a man­ag­ing edi­tor, I take my read­ers seri­ously, so build information/stories around sophis­ti­cated news and analy­sis!

Writ­ing arti­cles:  Style guide:

  • Style for Tkfr.com is to be infor­mal and reflect nat­ural speak­ing at its best. (At the end, I have included an arti­cle for your ref­er­ence.)
  • Do not want you to sub­mit aca­d­e­mic papers! It has to sound inter­est­ing. Avoid bor­ing.
  • Write in an active voice.
  • Use sim­ple words. For exam­ple instead of: assist, write help. Instead of obtain, write get.
  • Write to express, not impress.
  • Be spe­cific, to the point. Avoid clut­ter. Com­pact writ­ing.
  • Use strong verbs.
  • Don’t hes­i­tate to use “I” and “we”. Tell read­ers your opin­ion in clear, sim­ple terms just as if you were speak­ing directly to them.  Include lots of ‘you.’ The style has to be con­ver­sa­tional. There should be major inter­ac­tion going on between you and the reader in the tone of whole arti­cle.
  • Yes, you can use con­trac­tions.
  • Delete ‘that.’ Where pos­si­ble!
  • Par­al­lel lan­guage: if males are men, females should be women, not girls or ladies.
  • Equal respect: phys­i­cal traits (beauty, strength) and stereo­types (emo­tional, log­i­cal) are usu­ally irrel­e­vant, so are titles indi­cat­ing gen­der. Avoid irrel­e­vant details like gen­der, race, age or eth­nic group. Include only if the info relates to the story.
  • Care with pro­nouns: half the pop­u­la­tion is women, but you don’t have to use half your space writ­ing “he/she.” Tight writ­ing.


  • Cap­i­tal­ize: all com­pany names and their pro­grams; leg­is­la­tion; offi­cial titles when they pre­cede name (e.g. Pres­i­dent Mushraf).
  • Modes of address: no peri­ods (Dr Ameer); don’t use Mr , Mrs or Ms.
  • Comma: before ‘and’ and ‘or’ in a series of three or more (shel­ter, food, and jobs).
  • Names: full name when per­son is first men­tioned, only first name after that, infor­mal names (knick names) ok if that’s what every­one calls them; no let­ters after names (PhD, ABC), add title, depart­ment, etc., depend­ing on how well-known a per­son is to read­ers.
  • Numer­als: use words zero to ten, numer­als 11 and after unless com­bi­na­tions (15 mil­lion) make more sense; don’t begin a sen­tence with numeral; in a series with num­bers above and below ten, use all numer­als (…teams 3,9, and 14).
  • Sym­bols: use $ or Rs. always in text, but only at top of col­umn in tables, spell out ‘per­cent’ and ‘num­ber’ in text, use “%” and “#” in tables; don’t use “&” or “@” in text.
  • Times: 9:00 AM; 7:30 PM.
  • Dates: spell out month and write it first (Jan­u­ary 3), include year only when nec­es­sary for clar­ity.
  • Abbre­vi­a­tions: use stan­dard, spell out areas (south­west) and “road,” etc. in text, use any­thing that works in lists of addresses.
  • Acronyms/initials: spell out first use (Home­town Devel­op­ment Com­mis­sion), use ini­tials or “the com­mis­sion” there­after; ignore this rule with well known acronyms, such as WAPDA etc.
  • Spelling/hyphenation ref­er­ence: any dic­tio­nary or soft­ware.

The above style guide­lines are fairly stan­dard and bor­rowed from a book called “Edit­ing your Newslet­ter” by Mark Beach.

Here’s an arti­cle that you could call your inspi­ra­tion for Tkfr.com!

The Writ­ten Word?

It’s So Totally Over, Accord­ing to Mr. iPod

Nobody Reads Any­more, Steve Jobs Says. YouTube Addicts Might Agree — but What Is ‘Read­ing,’ Any­way?

By Simon Dumenco

Pub­lished: Jan­u­ary 28, 2008

By all rights I shouldn’t be writ­ing this — and for God’s sake, you cer­tainly shouldn’t be read­ing it! Because read­ing is, offi­cially, dead.

I have that on good author­ity — from no less a trend­mon­ger and trend­set­ter than Apple chief Steve Jobs, whom reporter John Markoff of The New York Times quoted last week as say­ing that the Ama­zon Kin­dle — that much-hyped e-reader for wordy prod­ucts such as books, news­pa­pers and mag­a­zines — is doomed.

Prose by any other name? The medium may be dif­fer­ent, but the activ­ity is the same.

“It doesn’t mat­ter how good or bad the prod­uct is,” Jobs told Markoff. “The fact is that peo­ple don’t read any­more. Forty per­cent of the peo­ple in the U.S. read one book or less last year. The whole con­cep­tion is flawed at the top because peo­ple don’t read any­more.”

At this point you should go check to see what’s new on YouTube.

But if you — you freak, you anachro­nism, you dying breed — are still with me, then let’s try to parse the math, and Jobs’ grim logic, together.

While it’s gen­er­ally taken for granted that the news­pa­per indus­try is doomed and the mag­a­zine indus­try is under siege, it’s worth not­ing that the book-publishing indus­try has been hold­ing its own. Accord­ing to the Asso­ci­a­tion of Amer­i­can Pub­lish­ers, in 2006 (2007 fig­ures aren’t out yet), “trade sales of adult and juve­nile books grew 2.9% to $8.3 bil­lion, a com­pound growth rate of 3.7% per year since 2002. The strongest growth in this cat­e­gory came from adult paper­back books, whose sales last year rose 8.5% to … $2.3 bil­lion. Adult hard­bound books [grew] 4.1% to $2.6 bil­lion.”

As for Jobs’ stat, it seems he extrap­o­lated it from an old National Endow­ment for the Arts study, which found that in 2002, just 57% of Amer­i­can adults reported read­ing a book. Then again, accord­ing to an Asso­ci­ated Press-Ipson poll released last August, 27% of Amer­i­can adults read no books last year — ergo, nearly three-quarters did. In fact, the poll revealed that the “typ­i­cal Amer­i­can adult” read four books last year.

“Who are these ‘peo­ple’ to whom Steve Jobs is refer­ring?” Pub­lish­ers Weekly Edi­tor in Chief Sara Nel­son asked me last week. “Not the million-ish who are devour­ing Eliz­a­beth Gilbert’s ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ or the ones who line up for Harry Pot­ter and/or James Pat­ter­son nov­els.” She added: “All I can say is that when I sat in restau­rants and air­ports or on buses or trains and pulled out my Kin­dle, I got more atten­tion than if I’d shown up naked — with an adorable puppy.”

At this point you should type “Sara Nel­son naked with an adorable puppy” into Google Image Search.

And then check to see if the Kin­dle is in stock on Ama­zon — which it prob­a­bly isn’t, because almost from the moment it was intro­duced, the prod­uct page has dis­played this notice: “Due to heavy cus­tomer demand, Kin­dle is tem­porar­ily sold out. We are work­ing hard to man­u­fac­ture Kin­dles as quickly as pos­si­ble and are pri­or­i­tiz­ing orders.”

In other words, Ama­zon is politely ask­ing cus­tomers to be patient — which is hilar­i­ous, because Kin­dle is all about instant grat­i­fi­ca­tion. As New York tech­nol­ogy con­sul­tant Michael E. Gruen wrote in a com­ment he posted on the Sil­i­con Alley Insider blog (about Jobs’ Kin­dle dis), “I’ll bet peo­ple are read­ing fewer books because they’re not yet as ‘on demand’ as other forms of media like music and film (which Apple has solved) as well as e-magazines and blogs.” Kin­dle is far from per­fect — I, like other observers, have dis­par­aged its clunky look — but with its built-in EVDO broad­band modem, it’s all about get­ting text on demand, any­where.

Which brings up a larger point: What is read­ing? After all, you can use a Kin­dle to read Brontë, but you can also use it to skim Boing­Bo­ing (Kin­dle has deals with some 250 blogs). If you’re not devour­ing “seri­ous” lit­er­a­ture or old-school A-list pub­li­ca­tions, are you not tech­ni­cally read­ing? Are you effec­tively non­lit­er­ate? Clearly, Jobs thinks so.

How else to explain his judg­ment that “nobody reads” in a cul­ture in which more and more peo­ple seem to be more obses­sively engaged in pro­duc­ing and con­sum­ing words than, pos­si­bly, ever in the whole of human his­tory? I’m talk­ing about not only blogs (Tech­no­rati tracks more than 100 mil­lion of them) but social-networking com­mu­ni­ca­tion and Twit­ter “tweets” and even, yes, e-mail. Think of the count­less peo­ple who live vibrant, effu­sive, all-consuming epis­to­lary lives who, pre-internet, might never have made the effort to write a proper ink-on-paper let­ter. With apolo­gies to Gertrude Stein, a word is a word is a word — and sto­ry­telling is sto­ry­telling is sto­ry­telling.

Yeah, even if it comes in the form of “cell­phone fic­tion.” You prob­a­bly heard about (or actu­ally read!) the New York Times’ recent front-page story about the rise of that genre: terse Japan­ese “chick lit” writ­ten on cell­phones and meant to be read on them, though an increas­ing num­ber have been able to cross over to print best-sellerdom.

The Times, actu­ally, was really slow to notice — The Wall Street Jour­nal cov­ered the phe­nom­e­non last Sep­tem­ber. And when Ben Ver­sh­bow, the edi­to­r­ial direc­tor of the Insti­tute for the Future of the Book (which is affil­i­ated with the Uni­ver­sity of South­ern Cal­i­for­nia and funded by the MacArthur Foun­da­tion), blogged about that Jour­nal arti­cle, his col­league Bob Stein, founder of the Insti­tute, wrote, “This sug­gests that art is irre­press­ible, as it emerges and pokes its way through the small­est of cracks in the media fir­ma­ment.”

God bless you for say­ing that, Bob Stein — and for hav­ing the gen­eros­ity of spirit to even think it.

But, as always, it all comes down to the ques­tion of who gets to define “art.”

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GD Star Rat­ing
Tkfr Style Guide, 9.5 out of 10 based on 6 rat­ings