First a word on the sub-editing that every writer is expected to do before submitting his/her piece. We don’t want to correct mistakes that the writer could’ve corrected herself. Only the errors you cannot find are reasonable, not the ones the writer is capable of correcting.

Second, kindly make sure your thought process is clear on the article you’re covering. Don’t begin to write unless you’ve got your head around the researched material. After you’ve done your research, interviewed information sources as well as subject experts and collected enough material to put together a piece, please take some time, clear your head, and marshal your thoughts before you start putting it all into words. When you’re not organized in your thinking, it shows in the article.

What we want from you is well-researched articles and features, structured in a planned way and written in coherent language. At no time during the reading of the article should the reader go “Oh, I don’t understand this bit. I don’t know what the writer is trying to say here.” Every sentence and paragraph should follow naturally, and the whole article should have a smooth flow — in language, style, and structure. No hiccups, no confusing bits, no out of place words.

When you get down to writing, have the following in mind. These are the suggestions based on the errors and lapses we repeatedly see in the submitted articles.

When you write, always keep an online dictionary, a thesaurus, and open in your browser.

  • Dictionary for obvious reason.
    • If you are in doubt about any word or its meaning, don’t be lazy and use the dictionary.
  • Thesaurus to look for that one elusive word.
    • Constantly watch out for the best words you can use in your writing. Thesaurus makes looking for elusive words easy.
  • Google to clarify doubtful use of certain words. Also to cross-check questionable facts and figures.
    • If you are in doubt about a word, phrase or sentence structure, Google it. At Indian Abroad, we’re trying to give a good impression to the readers. Correct English usage and cross-checking facts and figures are the requirements for that.
    • If you find the suspicious word or phrase having been used by reliable sources, it’s good enough for us. Otherwise, discard it.
      • Any word or phrase used by The Australian or The Courier Mail is good for us.

Edit your sentences for punctuation, spelling, style, grammar, and word usage. Also check wordiness. Keep libel issues and principle of fairness in mind while framing sentences.

Be careful in the use of capital letters, apostrophe, and punctuation marks like commas, semicolons, and colons.

  • Dr Shinde said, “The study validates the traditional use of herb as a youth-promoting substance in the Ayurvedic system of medicine.”
    • should be ayurvedic. But some publications treat ayurveda as a proper noun and capitalize it.
  • When writing feature headings, be careful with caps. Our features headings are written in title case, but this doesn’t mean every single word in capital letters. Majority of the publications, as well as us now, capitalize the principal words only. Leave prepositions (of, with, from, including, behind, against, etc.) in small case. Ditto goes for the.
  • To study accurate use of caps, punctuation marks, etc., at length, Google your requirements. It will give you good links to online English language resources.
    • Or take our help; we’ll be happy to put you on the right track.

Check redundancy, wordy phrases, needless repetitions, clichés, pretentious language, homonym problems, spelling and punctuation mistakes, vague words and terms, illogical statements and arguments, incorrect possessives, trite expressions, and other common problems.

Attributing information

Here’s a bit on borrowing material from other sources.

Within the article, where you are talking about an idea — and the idea is not your own — you need to tell the readers honestly which source (website, book, magazine, paper, journal, etc.) the idea was borrowed from. You can write something like the following:

The Australian noted in an article, the original article’s title here, that… (the idea continues here).

By doing the above, we are telling the readers that this idea does not belong to us. We did our research on the topic and borrowed the idea from The Australian.

In case of quotes, if you did not take the quote first hand and borrowed it from a news site or magazine, you need to write a variation of the following:
“The quote here,” The Courier Mail quoted Ron Barassi as saying.

Here’s another way to do it (when the source you took the quote or information from further took it from some other source): “Quote here,” The Daily Mail quoted lead researcher Barry Komisaruk as telling LiveScience.

Kindly attribute all the borrowed ideas and information bits you put in the article to their sources (as exemplified above) at least three times throughout the article.

Authenticate arguments and ideas with research

Statements in a good publication have to be backed by research, data, facts, and further information to acquire credibility. We would like you to not only cross-check facts and figures (that they are authentic and are coming from reputed sources) you may furnish in the article, but also make sure that every premise and argument you bring up is backed by logical reasoning and ample knowledge to expand on the argument.

Condensed information

Contain all the researched information within 300-400 words. We need condensed information rather than verbose prose. So from your research on 4-5 good sources, kindly choose the most enlightening information bits, the most informative nuggets, if you will, the kind that spark an epiphany in the reader. You can discard the less informative stuff, as we are trying to provide the maximum value to the readers in a ‘tablet article’, so to speak.

Also, to further cut down the number of words, check verbiage, repetition, or wordiness in your writing style.

Check wordiness

Next, we prefer to use fewer words, and any superfluous words are mercilessly discarded.

As an example, I take this sentence: The basic idea behind this is to ship all samples from…

This could be reduced to ‘The idea is to ship all samples from.…

Or this sentence: Ministry of Health stated that if a situation arises where there is a large scale spreading of the virus…

This could just be: Ministry of Health stated that in case of large scale spreading of the virus

So cut fat in your write-ups. Your readers will always appreciate more information in fewer words. So whenever you can cut some words, cut. Notice how the paragraph below has been cut to size:

Draft: If you are among those, who believe that smoking just one cigarette would not hurt your health in any way, and then it’s high time you change your perception. Because as per the researchers of a new study, 15-30 minutes is all it takes before that one cigarette you had puffed starts causing genetic damage in your body, leaving you one step closer to cancer. (65 words)

Edited: Smoking just one cigarette would not hurt your health, you believe? It’s time you changed your belief. According to a new study, 15-30 minutes of smoking is all it takes to cause genetic damage in your body, leaving you one step closer to cancer. (44 words)

A word on plagiarism

We try to make our articles as original as possible. The requirement for that is that no more than four words in row can be copied from an internet-based source.

Web is only for researching and finding information. You need to not only rephrase the information you find on the internet, so that no more than four words in a row from your article can be Googled on the net, but also make sure that you collect material from at least 3-4 sources and not just one source.

Checklist for your articles and features

After you’ve written your piece, ask yourself these questions:

1. Have you been able to hook the reader in with the lead (the opening paragraph)?

  • Talk to us regarding writing a good lead

2. Will a very skeptical reader approve the research done by you for the advancement of your arguments?

3. Have you provided due attribution where it is required?

4. Have you been able to organize the arguments and ideas in a logical sequence?

  • New information after old information and not the other way round

5. Does the reading become awkward for the reader?

  • Transition of ideas within sentences and paragraphs has to be smooth

6. Is the feature article interesting throughout?

  • Find the boring parts and work on them

7. Have you matched the writing style, tone, and purpose of the write-up?

8. Have you checked pretentious language, homonym problems, spelling and punctuation mistakes, vague words and terms, illogical statements and arguments, incorrect possessives, clichés and trite expressions, and other such problems in the write-up?

9. Have you checked redundancy, wordy phrases, and needless repetitions? Does the write-up contain wordiness?

  • Say more with less words, in a way that every word tells

10. Have you checked your word usage?

  • Try to eliminate clichés, and use fresh words and phrases instead
  • Try to better your words; see if you can replace weak or unfitting words with the ones that fit better

Any questions on these, give us a tinkle or shoot us a mail.