New year, new style

For thousands of school children (and some college students), the first day of school means one stressful decision: a first-day-of-school outfit.

At the Daily Trojan this year, we had to make similar decisions, only our style wasn’t fashion — it was grammar.

Every publication has a “style” — the way it writes certain words and phrases, or if it writes them at all. Most supplement individual “style rules” with what has become the style bible: the AP Style Guide. Though whether to say “e-mail” or “email” may sound trivial, having a pre-determined style ensures that a publication stays consistent, has a distinct voice and avoids confusing readers.

Though there are some completely arbitrary ones, the vast majority of style rules have a logic inherent in them. For the uninitiated, whether a publication uses an Oxford comma (the first rule of journalistic style: don’t) — or even what an Oxford comma is — is completely irrelevant. But for a journalist who is trying to tell a story in most concise way possible, there is absolutely no reason for extra symbols that disrupt the text.

As the times change, so does what can be considered good grammar taste. There’s a reason AP releases a new guide each year. To keep up with these changes, this semester we’re committed to developing a new Style Guide for the Daily Trojan, rules chosen both in light of tradition of what the paper has previously done and editors’ own personal preferences. And I can assure you that for every style rule the Daily Trojan has, thought has been put into exactly why we want to do it that way.

To create this guide we’ve had to do three things: write down traditional rules the paper has always followed and we’d like to maintain, solidify new rules that we’ve never had a policy on and change some of our old policies as we welcome in a new era.

Creating the beginnings of this style guide meant a lot of arguments over grammar between the managing editors and me, and also made us realize just how much we all love the minutiae of writing. And since we all have such strong opinions, what better way to express it than through our own grammar blog?

Just don’t get us started on Trojan F/family.