Adapted from The Varsity’s Contributors’ Handbook, where you can find more extensive tips.
Here are some tips for writing for The Varsity. Remember: The Varsity does not accept unsolicited content, so be sure you have an assignment from an editor before you start writing.
The style guide: Most publications have an in-house style, and it saves our editors time if you use ours. Our style guide lists a number of grammatical and stylistic details where The Varsity has decided on a consistent way of doing things. Our copy editors check for and correct style, but it saves time to get it right the first time.
Providing sources: Whenever you cite or reference a fact in an article, you need to provide us with the source. This doesn’t have to be in academic format, just give us enough information that our fact-checkers can find the same information. Sources can be included at the bottom of an article, in a separate document, or, preferably, in comments using the “review” function in Word.
Word counts: Our policy is to send back any article that is more than 10 per cent over or under the assigned word-count. Our layout designers rely on those word-counts when planning what each page will look like, and we use those numbers to determine how much content we’ll have overall for the issue.
Stick to the story: When you have an article to write, you should make sure that you and your editor have the same understanding of what the article is about, and then stick to that topic. If you’re not clear on what you should write about, just ask. If you want to change the topic, make sure to clear it with the editor first.
Print and online: We publish in print and on our website. Some content will be published in both media, some in only one. Where something is published has to do with the suitability of the content for the media, and with space. Readers expect and want different things when interacting with content in different media. It’s worth keeping the media in mind when writing your articles.
Sentence spacing: Don’t put two spaces after a period. This is a relic of the typewriter era, not part of The Varsity’s styles, and annoying to correct.
Passive voice: In passive voice the object and the subject of an active sentence are reversed. “Four people attended the meeting,” is an active sentence. “The meeting was attended by four people,” is the passive equivalent. Active sentences are almost always easier to read, and passive voice can be confusing and cumbersome. Use passive voice only when it is absolutely necessary.
Economy of language: Journalistic writing requires an economy of language. Ask yourself: Is every word working? Can any thought be expressed more economically? Read about some of these common mistakes and pointers on how to avoid them in the Contributor’s Handbook.
Editing: Just like any publication, we edit every article. We do not give writers or sources final approval over edits. Sources may request to see an article before publication; there are no circumstances under which this request should be granted.
Always read your work after it is published and note the changes that have been made. If you’re wondering why changes were made to your work, ask your editor to explain them. This is often helpful for improving your writing.