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There are some hard and fast rules that apply to writing non-fiction no matter whether if it's aimed for scholarly publications, newspapers, magazines, or even a book.
Facts, Facts, Facts
Get your facts right. Don't presume, guess or surmise. A factual article should be conclusive of its information. There will always be someone out there that will know. If you're writing for magazines or newspapers, you will not only bring yourself into disrepute, but your publishers as well. That means you may not be published next time you submit your work.
Give Credit Where Credit Is Due
Scholarly, science or medical articles or books require in text citations and references. It's wise to have professionals in the same field approve your piece.
A newspaper article has neither the room nor the interest level to include all of this. However, the homework should still be carried out. As stated previously, your information needs to be researched thoroughly.
Including quotations serves to break up lengthy paragraphs, thereby encouraging the reader to continue, while substantiating your article. A quote from a professional strengthens a non-fictional piece of work. Factual articles without direct quotes or reinforcement of factual information may be viewed disparagingly. When you do quote someone, ensure you state clearly their full title and their representation.
Note: In Australia, we do not put a full stop when shortening a word like doctor if the last letter in the word matches the last letter in the shorten form.
- Dr Michael Greene of XYZ University stated that ...
- Dr Michael Greene, a biologist who has been studying this field for 20 years, has documented similar experiences ...
- Dr Michael Greene of XYZ University said, ‘ ...’
Direct quotes must contain quotation marks. While double quotes (“ ”) are still acceptable, the single quotes (‘ ’) are the Australian preferred quotation mark.
One of the biggest mistakes authors can make is including personal opinion as the right one. Your opinion may be clouded by experience, which can sometimes be unique and not shared by others. Stick to the facts and what esteemed professionals have proved rather than your take on a subject.
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