Rules for Writers

Every profession has it's rules. The rules for writers are meant to guide you as you write for school and work. Adapt and follow these to improve your writing life.


Of all writer's responsibilities, the first and most important is to write. Explore your world in words and share those words with others, even if those others are classmates or family.

Like exercising your body's muscles, the more you write, the better you will get and the stronger your writing will become.

Follow the writer's guidelines.

This responsibility is twofold. One, follow the generally accepted guidelines of usage and grammar. And two, when you are writing for publication or for school, follow the writers guidelines presented by the publisher or the rubrics established by the teacher.

Have a clear goal for each writing project.

Know what story you are going to tell and in what style (hard news, soft news, etc.). Also, if other people are directly involved in your writing project, make sure you are all in agreement about these goals.

Meet your deadlines.

In school, that deadline might be a rough draft due date two weeks before the final is expected to be turned in. For the professional writer, that deadline will be determined by the market he or she writes for. Newspapers have short, tight deadlines, whereas magazines allow more time to complete a project. Book deadlines are usually the most liberal.

Whatever your deadline, meet or beat it. If you can turn in that draft a day or an hour early, do it. This shows professionalism and dependability that editors and professors look for in writers. This is probably the second most important of the rules for writers.

Give proper credit.

If you use a source, credit that source at the end of the paper or within its pages. If an editor or other advisor helped you, show your appreciation in print. Have you ever seen the acknowledgments in books? Simply put, they are giving credit to those who helped along the way.

Check all editorial changes or suggestions.

You are not required to make suggested changes, but to have a good working relationship with an editor, you must pay them the respect of checking the changes they have marked. If you agree, make the changes. If you disagree, don't. But be prepared to defend your choices.

Most of these are common sense. When you are sitting alone at your computer, it is easy to forget that you are not writing alone. From school to publication, your writing serves a purpose and that purpose involves other people. If you want others to respect your writing, you must respect these rules.

Return to Writing Basics Main Page

Return Home from Rules for Writers

Page copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape