Unlike punctuation for printed newswriting,
punctuation in broadcast writing is used to help the
announcer read the copy aloud. For example, a comma
tells the announcer to pause, and a hyphen helps the
announcer to pronounce difficult words.
As in any writing, the period indicates the end of a
sentence or thought. More periods are used in broadcast
writing because broadcast writing sentences are
generally shorter and more conversational.
Use the comma to indicate a pause shorter than that
of the period. Do not use a comma unless you want the
announcer to pause.
Use the dash to set off appositive and other
parenthetical expressions. Consider the following
Example: NATO THE NORTH ATLANTIC
VOTED THIS MORNING.
Use the hyphen to help announcers in phrasing
difficult words and to instruct them on how to pronounce
individual elements distinctly. Note the following
W-C-O-A, F-B-I, Y-M-C-A
Occasionally, you can use a series of three dots to
indicate a pause longer than that of a comma. The series
of three dots can also be used for a dramatic effect.
Consider the following example:
Example: THE JURY FOREMAN ANNOUNCED
IN A CLEAR FIRM VOICE . . .
Normally, in broadcast copy, the material inside
parentheses is not meant to be read aloud. Parenthetical
material in broadcast copy includes notes to the
announcer, such as pronunciation guides, reading rates,
and so forth.
Quotation marks often will appear in broadcast
copy as a cue to the announcer or newscaster to stress a
particular word or phrase, setting it apart from the rest
of the sentence. Do not confuse the use of quotation
marks as a cuing device with their use for indicating a
direct quote. Quotation marks also can be used as an aid
to announcers to set off nicknames, titles of books and
plays, and so forth. Note the following example:
Example: THE SQUADRON BETTER
KNOWN AS THE FLYING BLUE
DEVILS BEGINS ITS SIX-
MONTH DEPLOYMENT TODAY
MECHANICS OF BROADCAST
LEARNING OBJECTIVE: Identify the
mechanics of broadcast writing.
There is more to a successful broadcast news release
than a good news peg or interesting story topic. Your
release may not even reach the news directors desk if
it does not comply with the mechanics of broadcast
When we speak of broadcast writing mechanics, we
are referring to all aspects of a news release, other than
the actual content of the story. We speak of a basic
format and style used by both commercial and military
Your compliance with a few basic rules assures a
better chance for your release to make the airwaves and,
in turn, tells the recipient of your story that he or she is
dealing with a conscientious broadcast journalist.
Always treat a release from your office as official
correspondence. You are responsible for the information
it contains. In the broadcast copy, you should include all