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Writers’ Style Guide

James Tonks

I am the owner of Ringnews24 and the KO Boxing Forum. I love watching and talking boxing with fans, and members can find me on Ringnews24’s KO Boxing Forum. I enjoy interviewing boxers and watching old, new and classic fights.

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Ringnews24.com Style Guide


This guide aims to establish the foundations of the “House style” at Ringnews24. This will benefit writers by giving them experience(or further experience) of writing within a fixed set of rules, and will benefit the site by giving a more consistent and professional appearance to its content.


Numbers

See Also

1-9 in words (one, first, nine, ninth etc.), 10+ in numbers (10th, 15th)

Apostrophes

Apostrophes are used either to indicate possession[Jeff’s] or omission [it’s]

It’s – it is.

Its – belonging to it.


When using apostrophes, try to think why you are using them, and if necessary read aloud to help you decide where, if at all, to place the apostrophe. E.g. “The Mayweathers’ lawyer said” – here the lawyer belongs to all the Mayweathers so the apostrophe goes at the end. “Mayweather’s lawyer said” – only one Mayweather, so the apostrophe moves to indicate the lawyer is his. When the name ends in S, it’s a little more tricky, e.g. “Charles’s mother” rather than “Charles’ mother”


We’re – we are

Were – past tense – They were

Commas

These should be used to break up sentences to allow a reader to pause for breath – use them sparingly and if necessary, read aloud to find the natural places for commas in each line or clause.

There, Their, They’re

There identifies a place, e.g. “There are the boxers”

Their signifies “belonging to”, e.g. “Both fighters returned to their corners”

They’re is short for “They are”

Which and That

This is quite easy, really: “that” defines, “which” gives extra information (often in a clause enclosed by commas):

This is the brilliant article that I wrote; but this article, which Jeff wrote, is awful.

Ringnews24, which I look at every day, is the website that I most admire.

I am very proud of the articles that I wrote about boxing (some of the articles);

I am very proud of the articles, which I wrote about boxing (all the articles).

In these examples the sentence remains grammatically correct without “that” (the article I wrote, the website I admire), but not without “which”

World Titles, Weights and Job Titles

When referencing a title in full, capitalise the first letter of every word of the official title, e.g. “WBC World Lightweight Champion Juan Manuel Marquez” or even “WBC Lightweight Champion” provided the context is obviously discussing world titles.

This only applies when using the exact title in full.

When referring to the title informally, use lowercase except on acronyms, e.g. “The WBC lightweight title.” Similarly, contender is not a formal title, so “WBC lightweight contender…”

Hyphenate double-barrelled title names, e.g. WBC Light-Welterweight Champion Ricky Hatton.

When referring to a fighter without naming a title, lowercase the weight, e.g. “Manchester light-welterweight Ricky Hatton” or “140lb champion Ricky Hatton”

When discussing trainers, cornermen, promoters etc., do not capitalise anything unless it’s an official job title, e.g. “Tommy Hearns, under the guidance of legendary Kronk trainer Manny Steward” or “Manny Steward, Head Trainer at the Kronk Gym, said…”

Interviews and Quotes


Interviewing a fighter or someone else from the world of boxing can be a great pleasure and it’s easy to become star struck, but remember they may also be unused to being interviewed and may say something they later regret.

This can make for a great story but can lead to trouble if the person later claims they were misquoted to get themselves out of trouble. Record as much as possible, and keep the records – you may need to prove your integrity, so voice recordings are the best way to conduct and store an interview you later write up. With that in mind…


The people you’ll be communicating with come from all walks of life, live in a variety of countries and have their own individual schedules. For this reason, email, Skype or even Facebook may be used to conduct interviews rather than via the telephone.  When transcribing the interview, remove any abbreviations, “Txt spk” or smilies – they look unprofessional and messy on the page.


Remember, many of the people you speak to will also be interviewed by others, develop stock replies to frequently asked questions and your interview will read like a press release.

Try to research your subject and think of interesting or unusual questions to ask – it’ll make them think about their answers and increase the likelihood of you snagging an exclusive quote or more personalised replies. There’s also more chance they’ll remember you, and be more helpful to you in the future.


When including a quote, be absolutely certain that you are quoting the right person and using the exact form of words.  Abbreviating is permitted where necessary, but should be avoided if at all possible.

If copying a quote from elsewhere, cite your source, e.g. “In an interview with BoxingScene, Pacquiao said” and provide a link to the original article as a footnote at the end of your piece.

If you are going to quote someone else’s work, consider the reliability of the publication and the author. It may be wise, for example, to mistrust Floyd Mayweather as a reliable source for information about Manny Pacquiao, whereas Ring Magazine may be considered somewhat more impartial and reliable.

Be extremely careful that controversial quotes are obviously represented as quotes – do not take them as fact purely because you see no reason the person should lie, and do not convert such a quote into a statement of fact such as a headline.

E.g. An interview with Fred C Dobbs includes Dobbs’ assertion that “I tested positive for steroids but it wasn’t my fault – my trainer spiked my supplements”. Make sure the headline either makes the quote clear or emphasises that you are reporting an accusation impartially, not endorsing it or  making it yourself. E.g. “Trainer Spiked My Supplements” – Dobbs, or “Dobbs Claims Trainer to Blame For Positive Test.”

Even if quoting from the radio or TV, try to include an attribution. This is less important for a press conference that happens to be broadcast by, say, the BBC or Sky. If the quote comes from an exclusive interview on a radio or TV programme (e.g. Buncey’s Boxing, Sky Sports News etc.), always include an attribution.

Be careful when quoting direct speech: readers should be confident that words appearing in quotation marks accurately represent the actual words uttered by the speaker, although ums and ahems can be removed and bad grammar improved. If you aren’t sure of the exact wording, use indirect speech [“He said “I’m going to knock him out” during the interview” is direct speech, indirect speech would be “he said he was going to knock him out”

If a lot of material has been left out, start a new quote with: “He added: … “, or signify this with an ellipsis, e.g. “I’m going to break his arm…I want to eat his children”


Misquoting someone, taking quotes out of context – or even worse inventing quotes – is libel and will almost certainly result in a serious complaint from the person involved, and at worst can see you, the editors and owners of the site subject to a court case. Anyone found to have done so will have their work removed from the site and will be banned from both the news site and the forum.


Common Mistakes

“Equally as good” – should be equally good or just as good, never “equally as.”

“If he would of only picked up the pace” – if he had only.

“Speaking to there trainer” – their trainer. See the section on There, Their, They’re.

And Finally

Above all, don’t try to be too clever – you will have your own writing style and it will evolve naturally over time. Crowbarring in long or impressive-looking words in an effort to impress the reader is likely to have the opposite effect and look like you’re trying too hard. House style and the normal rules aside, there’s no wrong way to write an article, just try to use your own words. Unless you’re quoting, in which case, do as you’re told.

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