Writing articles – Language

Some things to remember regarding language when you write an article for publication on Visitnorway:


Avoid using language that is too complex

Remember that many visitors to visitnorway.com are not native speakers of English.

Write “spade” instead of “manually operated excavation instrument for relocation of loose gravel”.

Explain where neccessary

Consider that the reader knows far less than you about Norway, so some things will need a brief explanation. This is especially important when it comes to geographical elements. Use a word or three to explain what you are talking about; a village, a town, a resort, a municipality, etc.

Do’s and (mostly) don’ts

  • Avoid puns, slang and informal expressions.
  • Avoid using uncommon idiomatic expressions.
  • Avoid rethorical questions. In fact, avoid posing questions at all as much as possible.
  • Avoid sweeping generalizations – for example writing that a place or activity is “perfect for everyone no matter who you are”.
  • Avoid subjective judgements, for example claiming that a place is “in the heart of” or that something is “great” or “unforgettable”.
  • Avoid travel clichés like “The most beautiful in Norway” (A terribly subjective phrase pretending to be objective), Charming villages (describe architectural style, age or size of the village instead) Panoramic views (try 360 degrees), “Lively nightlife…” (Nightlife is always lively, describe type of bar, music or the crowd instead).
  • Vary your choice of words in an article – repeating the same words many times gets distracting and disruptive, especially if they are near each other.
    • An example of how NOT to do it:
      «Motorola er ikke lenger en stor konkurrent lenger, og samarbeidsavtalen viser at Apple ikke lenger er bekymret for Motorola lenger» – e24.no, 17/05/2014
  • Avoid referring to yourself, in plural or singular:
    • Do not write “we recommend you do this” but write “it is recommended that you do this”.
  • Avoid relative references to time, such as “last year”, “next year”, “yesterday”, “in two years” or similar. Such references will cause an unnecessary need for frequent updates, and more work to maintain the article.
  • Avoid “superlative” statements that claim that something is “the best” or “perfect” or “great”, or otherwise describing anything as better than anything else. Describe it in words instead.
    • Exception: Using words such as larger/largest, bigger/biggest, longer/longest etc is okay as long as you can base your statements on facts and/or numbers from an independent source.

Avoid «empty» descriptions

It is better to describe something (“Røros has many old wooden houses from the 16th century”) rather than using empty descriptions through words like great, spectacular, amazing, dramatic, etc (“Røros’ unique architecture”). Describing something as spectacular or great doesn’t really give the reader any useful information and must be avoided where possible.

Once your text is written, look it over and make sure it is grammatically consistent:

  • Do not change tenses. If you begin to write in one tense, do not switch to another.
  • Singular subjects require singular verbs. Make sure your verbs agree with your subjects.

Tone of voice

Use an honest, friendly and down to earth tone of voice when writing. Addressing the reader directly is okay, so use words like «you», «yours» and so on, but remember to not refer to yourself.

Make sure you balance the words in the article and headers, and make sure they do not repeat, but rather complement each other.

Sentences

Most journalists will tell you to write short sentences for online texts. Try not to restrict yourself by such rules, but keep each sentence short and to the point.

Don’t be afraid to use long sentences if you feel it is the right thing to do, but try to keep sentences short enough that you only need to use one comma or “and” (maximum) per sentence.

Above all LISTEN to the language

Listen to how it flows and write to keep it flowing easily. Remove, edit or change any “snags” like words or punctuation that disturb the rhythm or make you stop unexpectedly or jarringly.

Varying the length of your sentences is good for the overall text and can be used to convey a mood in itself. Here’s a wonderful example:

This sentence has five words. Here are five more words. Five-word sentences are fine. But several together become monotonous. Listen to what is happening. The writing is getting boring. The sound of it drones. It’s like a stuck record. The ear demands some variety. Now listen. I vary the sentence length, and I create music. Music. The writing sings. It has a pleasant rhythm, a lilt, a harmony. I use short sentences. And I use sentences of medium length. And sometimes, when I am certain the reader is rested, I will engage him with a sentence of considerable length, a sentence that burns with energy and builds with all the impetus of a crescendo, the roll of the drums, the crash of the cymbals–sounds that say listen to this, it is important.

…and last of all

Picture1

Never use an exclamation mark (!) anywhere in an article!

This sort of thing does not give a serious and trustworthy impression:

2014-02-15 15.04.24-1


REMEMBER: Vary your choice of words:

AVOID-USING-THE-WORD-VERY