Sports Journalism Institute

Helping women and minorities get into newsrooms since 1993

Getting in style

David Squires spoke to our SJI class Thursday about grammar and style, and his lecture was easily one of my favorites this week.

Squires, a longtime copy editor, is a self-acclaimed “word nerd,” and I am as well. I love the way words work, particularly because they can be constructed in multiple ways. If I write something that’s wordy, I know that I can edit it. I think that my grammar and usage skills have always been strong, but I also strive to improve; I know that I make certain mistakes that need to be corrected.

Along with teaching us about grammar and style, Squires also provided different mnemonic devices on how to spell certain words: accommodate (two cots need two mattresses) and dessert (desserts need at least two sugars and two Ss).

Memorizing how to spell words can be effective, especially if one has good memorization skills. But using different mnemonic devices can be helpful as well.

I appreciate Squires’ focus on the fundamentals of writing because I’ve always strived to be sound in areas other than writing. When I was a kid, my dad always emphasized learning the fundamentals of basketball. I was never the most athletic kid, but I always tried to work on basic skills
Learning the fundamentals of writing is important to me as well. If I continue to nurture my foundational skills, I know that I’ll be positioned to become a quality writer.

–Cameron Fields