Every publication has its own style book–a set of rules telling writers whether to write e-mail or email, startup or start-up, lawyer or attorney. Afro Hustler’s style book goes a little deeper. It also warns writers about some common errors and encourages them to write with clarity and simplicity. All the prescriptive judgments in the style guide are directly derived from those used each week in writing and editing Afro Hustler content.

  1. Limit your introduction; get to the point.
  2. Offering advice? Provide three to five (but no more than 10) action items or takeaways.
  3. Anecdotes help provide color and make your article unique.
  4. Use simple, direct prose and active verbs.
  5. We don’t use serial commas: apples, oranges and bananas–not apples, oranges, and bananas.
  6. The dashes we use have double hyphens and spaces: The company –which has since, survived without government assistance– finally circled down the drain.
  7.  We don’t use em dashes or hyphens as dashes. Commas, periods and other symbols go inside the end quote marks. ALWAYS.
  8.  No double spaces after periods and sentences.
  9.  Appropriate sourcing of quotes: This means that quotes should be attributed to a source, e.g.: “Blah, blah, blah,” Churchill Nanje told me in an interview -OR- “Blah, blah, blah,” Churchill Nanje said in an interview with blah, blah, blah.
  10.  Single quotes belong only around quotes within quotes and in headlines and sub-heads.
  11.  Put in your own hyperlinks. Don’t put URLs in parentheses and expect us to link them.
  12.  Use one-sentence paragraphs sparingly. Too many makes your work clunky. Two to three sentences is an ideal paragraph length. At most, five if it must be long.
  13.  Percent is used as a symbol, not as a word.
  14.  Sub-heads (copy that breaks up long chunks of text) should have the same, parallel format.
  15.  Don’t use links in sub-heads. Use them only within your text.
  16.  Don’t capitalize the words in sub-heads, after the first word.
  17.  If you must use “he,” also use “she.”
  18.  Pluralize your pronouns. Instead of “An entrepreneur has his job to do,” make it “Entrepreneurs have their jobs to do.”
  19. A company or organization or government agency is an “it,” never a “they.”
  20. For the possessive pronoun, when you refer to possession by a single person or company, use “its,” not “their.” Similarly, when you write about a company’s web audience, mention “the audience’s members” before saying “them.” An audience is not a “them.”
  21. Consistency part I: If you start with the pronoun “you,” stick with it. Avoid mixing “we,” “I,” “he/she” and “you” all in the same article. Consistency part II: Stick to the same verb tense throughout your article.
  22. Remember that the present perfect tense (“The startup has maintained the same policy for five years”) expresses ongoing, habitual action.
  23.  Check for repetition of the same words, points and themes. That’s just poor writing.
  24.  Numbers under 10 are written out (unless appearing with the word “percent.”) Numbers 10 or higher are written as numerals (unless they start a sentence).
  25. Years are always expressed with numerals.
  26.  Use “more than” rather than “over” with numbers.
  27.  Check quotes with reliable sources.
  28.  If you must use abbreviations and acronyms nobody else knows, spell these out on the first reference (followed by the abbreviation in parentheses).
  29.  Names: For the first reference, use the full name: Aliko Dangote. For subsequent references, use the last name only. Even if Aliko Dangote is your best friend, don’t call him “Aliko” in your write-up.
  30.  Date format: May 20, 2018 OR Sunday, May 20, 2018.
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