CREATIVE SERVICES FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS: DESIGN • PUBLISHING • MARKETING • CONSULTING

CREATIVE SERVICES FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS: DESIGN • PUBLISHING • MARKETING • CONSULTING

Content Style

CONTENT STYLE

For clients who utilize the ADVANCED service level, our team of professional writers and copy editors will review and edit all submitted biographies in order to create a consistent narrative style and an optimal patron reading experience.

Our editing process includes correcting grammar and punctuation. We also correct (and verify, when necessary) the titles of creative works and related data including character names, and the proper names of venues, businesses, educational institutions, publications, and awards and other recognition. We never omit specific biography data that is submitted by an artist but we may rearrange some data for readability, for space, or for layout and design purposes.

BAYSTAGES Services leans into the Chicago Manual of Style (CMOS) and the Merriam-Webster Dictionary for basic copy editing standards. We embrace the Oxford comma and eschew the use of colons, dashes (em, en, or plain), and semi-colons in running text, and forward-slashes everywhere, except where absolutely required. We also suggest a range of best practices to enhance the reader’s experience.

Whether or not we are editing content for a client, we encourage all contributors to watch for some of the following writing traps:

PROMISCUOUS CAPITALIZATION:

Capitalizing a word does not make it more important. Further, promiscuous capitalization only reduces the desired overall impact. Reserve capitalization for the first word of each sentence and for proper names and titles of creative work. Unless specifically named, generic degrees and fields of study (theatre, design, voice, directing) should be lowercase. Job titles should be lower case unless immediately preceding the job holder’s name:

“The board introduced Artistic Director Mary Smith, the former executive director of That Other Company.”

STATING THE OBVIOUS:

Certain cliches and writing habits creep into biographies and should be avoided. The most frequent is:

“John is delighted to be playing George Gibbs with this amazing cast in the City Stages production of Our Town.”

The patron reading your biography will assume that you are not performing under duress (or working off parking tickets) and that you are indeed delighted (happy, pleased, thrilled, or even super-stoked) to be part of this production. The rest of the sentence is redundant since they are already know the venue, the name of the play or musical to be performed, and your role or function, which is listed immediately above this too-frequent opening sentence in bold print.

EXPRESSIONS TO RECONSIDER:

  • APPEARED: Unless you were a magic act prop, you either performed, played, acted, sang, danced, or otherwise animated the credit you are listing.
  • HOLDS: In education, you either earn a degree or, in honorary situations, receive it. Constantly holding it would get old.
  • WAS SEEN: Same as APPEARED for performers, but fine for designers whose work is literally seen (or heard).

SHORTCUTS TO AVOID:

  • ACRONYMS: Do not assume readers know what an acronym represents. List the full organization’s name in the first use and, when appropriate, follow with the acronym in parentheses. Then, using the acronym alone later in the text is understandable.
  • AMPERSAND: Do not use “&” as “and” unless it is part of a title or a proper name.
  • AND: Do not use “And” to begin a sentence. The text following “And” should just be connected to the previous sentence after a comma.
  • BUT: See AND above.
  • FORWARD SLASH (/): Avoid the use of forward slashes when a comma, hyphen or “and” would create the same result. This is particularly applicable to listing multiple characters played by the same actor unless they are actually the same individual, such as Fred/Petruchio in Kiss Me, Kate or Jekyll/Hyde in Jekyll & Hyde.
  • THE: If “The” is the first word in the title of a play or musical, please include it.

CLARITY AND ACCURACY:

  • ROLES VS. CREDITS: If you list favorite (or recent or other or…) roles, limit the list to actual roles and have a character name for every entry on the list. Evita is a role (and a title), but ensemble, chorus, or understudy are credits. If the role does not have a proper name, lead with the article “the” to make it more readable, as in “the Witch in Into the Woods.” If you want to mix roles and credits, then use “credits” as the list identifier.

Questions? Suggestions? Write to operations@baystages.services or call 415.552.8040 for more information.