Editorial style guidelines for The Missouri School of Journalism and Reynolds Journalism Institute
The Missouri School of Journalism and Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute follows two style guides:
- J-School/RJI Style Guide, as detailed within these pages.
- Associated Press Stylebook, with universally-accepted rules commonly used in journalism and strategic communication, the same guide used by the University of Missouri.
- If a discrepancy exists between the two styles, the J School/RJI Style Guide takes precedence.
In some fields, writers and editors might also follow discipline-specific style guides. Regardless of the field, in communications produced by the J-School/RJI Communications team for general audiences, the J-School/RJI Style Guide and the Associated Press Stylebook take precedence over academic style guides such as the MLA Style Manual.
J-School/RJI Style Guide
Please click on the corresponding letter for specific style guide information.
The J-School is the world’s first to offer a journalism degree and still the most renowned to this day. RJI was created to make sure journalism has a long and bright future. The two compliment one another. The School is where we are educating the journalism and strategic communication leaders of tomorrow, and those students will go on to work in the industry that will most benefit from RJI’s research and innovation.
The tone of both headlines and body copy should reflect the opportunities that our students get, the world-class faculty that work here, the innovative approaches that RJI works on, and ideas and/or solutions that industry can adopt. It is hopeful, ambitious, showcases opportunities that can be had on campus. Our words should open minds to new ideas and inspire and motivate our audience to adopt and succeed.
Headlines are the best, and maybe only, opportunity to grab the reader’s attention and encourage them to keep reading. They need to be clear and concise. Don’t try to say everything, but don’t make the headline so obtuse that it leaves the reader scratching their head. We should always try to refer to the School or RJI when appropriate. Try to include a sub-head to help emphasize your point. Capitalize only the first word and proper nouns in headlines that use AP style (and headlines SHOULD use AP style).
- Columbia Missourian sports section, 20 journalism students score big at national APSE awards contest
- Missouri School of Journalism students gain hands-on experience covering Super Bowl, fan experience live from Miami
- Missouri School of Journalism students lead the Columbia Missourian’s yearly Progress Awards
- RJI drone journalism director proposes ID rule alternative to the FAA
- Hey, newsrooms! Finding out what’s going on in your state capital just got easier
- RJI Fellow’s tool measures ‘impact with context’
Clear, concise captions can pull curious readers further into the page while ensuring that those merely skimming the page can garner the most important information.
How to write good captions
- Generate interest and intrigue. Engage readers.
- Add details that aren’t in the accompanying story.
- Use active verbs and energetic language.
- For every photograph, provide a caption with specific information, if available.
- Be honest and accurate. If using an old photo, identify the date. If using a photo for illustrative rather than documentary purposes, make that clear in your caption.
- Use “from left” rather than “from left to right” when identifying multiple people or things.
- Don’t editorialize. Avoid subjective adjectives. Let your readers decide whether someone or something is beautiful, happy, troubled, etc.
- Because readers know you are referring to the photograph, omit phrases such “is shown” or “pictured above.”
- Write complete sentences that fill the width of the photo. Try to use present tense, but use past tense to refer to events that preceded the taking of the photo or that are not pictured in the photo.
- Don’t point out the obvious, such as gestures or colors, except when writing alternative text to accompany photos online. Alternative text can be detected by a screen reader and provide photo information to users who are visually impaired. More about accessibility.
- Before publishing the photos online or in print, double-check the photos and captions for accuracy and consistency.
- Before publishing, be certain that there are no copyright violations.
- If photographer has requested credit, do so at the end of the caption.
- Photo: Jo Soandso.
Generic grafs/boiler plate for different institutes
AdZou is based on the “Missouri Method” of learning by doing. Directed by public relations, advertising and marketing professionals, graduating Missouri School of Journalism seniors work in small teams to bring fresh perspectives to their research-based campaigns for real fee-based companies or organizations.
The Columbia Missourian is a digital-first community newsroom that covers news and sports. The paper is supervised by professional editors and staffed by Missouri School of Journalism students who do the reporting, copy editing, design, photography and multimedia. This hands-on teaching of learning-by-doing is called “The Missouri Method.” The published work is optimized for social media, mobile and web, with the print editions delivered five-days-a-week. The publication was founded in 1908 as a community newspaper.
Global Journalist is a converged newsroom producing digital, broadcast and mobile content for local and global audiences. It covers international news with a focus on parts of the world rarely covered in mainstream media. Global Journalist is produced at the Missouri School of Journalism’s Reynolds Journalism Institute by faculty, staff and students from the School in conjunction with the School’s NPR affiliated station KBIA-91.3, Mid-Missouri Public Radio.
Jonathan B. Murray Center for Documentary Journalism
Students combine the innovative approaches of documentary storytelling with journalism’s strong tradition of accuracy and fact-finding at Jonathan B. Murray Center for Documentary Journalism. Housed in the Missouri School of Journalism, the Murray Center balances classroom experiences with the hands-on Missouri Method, offering independent documentary production in New York, California and elsewhere. The center is equipped with the latest camera and editing equipment to enable students to produce professional, publishable works in their time at the School.
Working across an almost unlimited palette of subject matter, students in the Jonathan B. Murray Center for Documentary Journalism use the latest techniques in cinematic nonfiction to create a number of short documentaries. Classroom lessons in the art and science of documentary filmmaking are punctuated with continuous field work learning the documentary craft. Faculty expertise is magnified by frequent appearances of visiting artists, filmmakers behind the most important work in documentaries today. Students enjoy access to professional equipment reserved only for documentary use. The program culminates in the Stronger Than Fiction Film Festival each year in which graduating students show their capstone documentaries on the big screen for a local audience.
KBIA, mid-Missouri’s NPR-member station, reaches 15 counties and has served mid-Missouri since 1972. KBIA is a university-licensed, community-supported not-for-profit institution, actively involved in the life of the mid-Missouri area. The station is the area’s largest provider of arts programming, serving more than 30,000 listeners and members each week.
Serving as a working laboratory for broadcast journalism students at the MU Journalism School, KOMU is the only university-owned commercial major-network affiliate in the United States that serves both an academic and a commercial mission. Its operations and investments in broadcast technology are funded entirely by advertising and retransmission revenues. The station receives no funding from the university or state.
Missouri Business Alert
Missouri Business Alert is a digital newsroom that keeps business decision makers and entrepreneurs informed about the stories important to them, from corporate boardrooms to Missouri’s state Capitol. MBA is managed by professionals and staffed by Missouri School of Journalism students. The site regularly features hard-hitting and timely articles and video presentations from a statewide perspective.
Missouri School of Journalism
The Missouri School of Journalism, the world’s first, is the international leader in journalism education. Some of the best journalists in the world have learned their profession through the Missouri Method, which provides practical hands-on training in six professional news outlets – Columbia Missourian, KOMU-TV, KBIA-FM, Vox Magazine, Global Journalist, Missouri Business Alert – and two strategic communication agencies – AdZou and MOJO Ad. Students and faculty regularly earn more than 500 top awards and recognitions from international, national and other organizations.
MOJO Ad is the premiere student-staffed professional advertising agency in the Missouri School of Journalism. Staffed by students entering their last year at the university, and supervised by faculty, MOJO Ad allows the most qualified students in the strategic communication department to get the experience of working in an agency environment.
Novak Leadership Institute
The Novak Leadership Institute develops leaders who believe in the power of people coming together to solve the world’s biggest challenges. Powered by the renowned Missouri Method of learning-by-doing, our practical and innovative curriculum combines principles from advertising and marketing with a people-first approach to leadership. Through innovative courses, hands-on experiences, mentors and industry partnerships, students learn how to collaborate and communicate effectively as a leader to accomplish significant goals in their college experience and future career. To learn more about NLI programs visit novakleadership.missouri.edu.
In the spirit of its founding philosophy, “taking people with you,” the David Novak Leadership Institute, located in the Missouri School of Journalism, is an opportunity for students to grow leadership skills at the world’s first center for communication and marketing-based leadership excellence. Novak leadership courses allow Mizzou undergraduate and graduate students gain practical skills and experience in the areas of personal leadership development, organizational leadership, entrepreneurship and innovation, and service.
POY is the oldest and most prestigious photojournalism program and competition in the world. Created in 1944 at the Missouri School of Journalism as The First Exhibition of Spot News and Feature Photography, founder Cliff Edom intended to recognize newspaper and magazine photographers on the World War II home front. It has since evolved into an international competition with more than 40,000 entries annually. It became affiliated with the Missouri School of Journalism’s Reynolds Journalism Institute in 2008. POY receives financial support from RJI and photographers, editors and publications who enter the annual competition as well as the POY Endowment.
Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute
The Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute (RJI) works with the news industry, professors, students and others to make sure journalism has a long and bright future. As a “think-and-do” tank that opened its doors in 2008, RJI uses its guaranteed funding to work exclusively to strengthen journalism in the service of democracy. It’s part of the Missouri School of Journalism.
RJI Drone Journalism Program
Every day, drones are helping industries see the world differently and journalism is no exception. The RJI Drone Journalism Program at the Missouri School of Journalism helps create future drone pilots of the world, explores innovative uses for drones in reporting news stories and advocates for new uses, smarter regulations and cutting-edge equipment. Areas the program examines includes controlling drone traffic at news scenes; protecting First Amendment and airspace rights while using drones for news coverage; and creating a culture of safe, responsible drone operators in the media.
Vox Magazine is an award-winning, cross-platform city publication where Missouri School of Journalism students, supervised by professionals, are the writers, editors, designers, photographers and managers. It keeps readers informed about what is happening and where to be in Columbia, Mo. Vox publishes a monthly print edition and a website, providing insight on local news and culture. The print edition has a weekly circulation of 10,000 and is distributed in the Thursday edition of the Columbia Missourian. It can also be picked up at drop locations around Columbia.
Mistakes happen. If you happen to find one on this website or in any other Missouri School of Journalism communications – print brochures, social media, fliers, etc. – please report the error to ude.iruossim@msilanruoj along with a URL or other identifying information. Thank you.