Style Section

STYLE presents a unique blend of news and features with timely and factual articles offering readers a more descriptive, informal “behind the scenes” coverage of the arts, personalities and lifestyles, as well as social trends, interviews, previews and reviews — all in one concise section. Add to the mix highlights and grids on broadcast (TV and radio).

Published seven days a week, STYLE’s got the hottest hits, hemlines and hearty features. Advice, how-to and comics provide another dimension to the lively content.

The STYLE section offers the unity and continuity of the language process of listening, speaking, reading and writing. The variety of the section lends itself to developing strategic readers and can demonstrate the ability to write for various audiences and purposes.

Before focusing on this section’s leveled exercises that have been developed for STYLE, it is important that students have a general feeling for the type of information reported in STYLE and the tone of this section. A few introductory suggestions will help students realize that they already know a great deal about the type of news covered in STYLE.

Consider having students share their present understandings about some concepts most frequently focused on within STYLE articles. What do students think of when they hear words, terms and concepts such as the following? What names, titles and places come to mind? Can students find these words in the headlines or articles of the current STYLE section? Students can use the “Search” feature of e-Replica to look for these words.

“in style,” “fashionable”

“trendy,” “old fashioned”

“hit,” “flop,” “best seller”

star, celebrity

the arts, culture

gallery, concert hall

repertoire, program


previews and reviews



What are some of the names of the “newsmakers” featured in STYLE? How are these personalities different from those found in MAIN NEWS?

What kinds of pictures are found in the STYLE section? Who is in the picture?

What are the people (person) pictured doing?

Where was the picture taken?

These orientations to STYLE will help students become familiar with the purpose, vocabulary and concepts which characterize this section of the paper.

Online at teachers will find curriculum guides that cover manysubject areas. 

The Movie Review(er), Nov. 20, 2001, for an introduction to the basics of movie review writing;

Ancient Civilizations in Today’s World, April 9, 2002, to introduce students to the influences on D.C. architecture.


Highlights of Style

The following columnists and features appear in STYLE

Ask Amy: General advice column (not on Saturday)
Carolyn Hax:  A relationships advice column
Horoscope: Start your day with a reading from Holiday Mathis.
Reliable Source: Roxanne Roberts and Amy Argetsinger share gossip from inside the Beltway and beyond. (not on Saturday).
TV Column: The Post’s Lisa de Moraes tells you what’s happening on the air and behind the scenes.
Book World: Every Day-Expanded on Wednesdays
KidsPost: Appears each day except for Friday and Saturday. Fred Bowen writes a weekly sports column for young people in the Thursday KidsPost


Bridge Column


Hints From Heloise: Get plenty of money-and time-saving tips.
Music: Reviews of pop music releases


Backstage: Jessica Goldstein focuses on the area theater scene.
Miss Manners: Judith Martin answers questions about etiquette.


Galleries: Reviews of exhibits at local art galleries


Movies: features about movies and actors
Television: features about shows and actors
Pop Music: record reviews and stories about musicians
Deal Hunter: Katherine Boyle column on finding local deals on products and services
Web inSites: Melissa Bell’s Monica Hesse's column on websites
Celebritology: News and riffs about celebrities
The Scene: Photographs from area charity galas
On Love: The love stories behind area weddings
Advice and Puzzles: Carolyn Hax, Ask Amy, and Crossword Puzzle
The cartoon Cul de Sac
The Style Invitational: A wacky weekly contest

Where to Find It in Style


Draw students’ attention to what is meant by the word “Style.” This is a word with many definitions and uses in specialized areas. This page has a style that specifies its typeface, font size and layout. “Style” is the shadow-producing pin of a sundial. “Style” is a manner or tone of discourse, a distinctive manner and a fashionable, luxurious mode of life. So what is STYLE, this section of The Washington Post?

Have students browse through the section, noting the kinds of news articles and pictures featured. Help students conclude that STYLE carries articles giving information about the personal lives of well-known people, entertainment opportunities, reviews and advice.

The Level 1 exercise can be modeled as a language experience activity; students will need glue, paste or tape, and scissors for this level. The Level 2 activity is appropriate for several sections of the newspaper (SPORTS, METRO, MAIN NEWS). Level 3 can be done with one day’s comic section, but a collection of three to five days will allow students to follow the storyline and draw conclusions about the cartoonists’ intent. This exercise can be done individually or in groups.


1. Have students clip or print from e-Replica several headlines and any accompanying picture(s) from the STYLE section. (Teachers may also display headlines and accompanying pictures using an interactive white board using e-Replica).  If they clip these from the Sunday print edition, students should mount each set of pictures on a separate piece of paper. Have students choose a headline-picture set and, using only the headline and picture(s), ask them to write one or two sentences predicting what the article is about. Check the accuracy of their responses by reading the first paragraph of the article.

Note: Teachers may wish to preview articles before giving this assignment. Does the headline contain enough information to generate meaning in the form of a main idea?

Do students have enough background (schema) related to the topic?


2.  Have students note that the feature sections and/or columnists are highlighted under the masthead of the STYLE section. Point out that the section or columnist’s name and a brief descriptive phrase about the day’s article, as well as the page number where the feature is located, are listed below the STYLE masthead. Ask students to choose four columnists or feature sections from STYLE that are not included below the STYLE masthead. Create a reference for these articles modeled after those actually used below the masthead.


3.  The Washington Post provides an extensive collection of comic strips. Some have appeared in The Post for decades and others were added in the last few years. Ask students what the comic strip section adds to the coverage of culture.

Read the comic strips that appear in STYLE.

•Which of the comic strips reflects society’s concerns?

•Which of the comic strips addresses family relationships?

•Which of the comic strips confronts the role of men, women and children in society?

Have students write a short response to one of these questions. They must include two to three comic strips as examples of their idea.

You might also note that Dilbert by Scott Adams appears in the Sunday Washington Post Magazine and Cul De Sac by Richard Thompson appears in the Sunday Style section.


Academic Content Standards and Skills



Reading/English Language Arts, Students will identify and use text features to facilitate understanding of informational texts.


English, Writing, The student will read and demonstrate comprehension of a variety of informational sources. Summarize what is read. Organize and synthesize information for use in written and oral presentation.

Washington, D.C.

Reading/English Language Arts, Language as Meaning Making, Students comprehend and compose a wide range of written, oral and visual texts.

Fundamental Aim:

Reinforce Interpreting

Sub-skill Reinforcement:

Locating information, finding the main idea, comparing and contrasting, drawing conclusions, predicting outcomes

Give Me Some Advice


The STYLE section made its debut in 1969. In addition to lengthy feature stories focusing on people, events and culture, the section contained advice. Today, the STYLE section provides how-to information from the Carolyn Hax, Ask Amy, Miss Manners, Hints from Heloise and reviews for all media.

The Level 1 activity asks students to look at the advice columns of Ask Amy and Carolyn Hax. The Level 2 activity encourages students to look at literature through Book World.  The Level 3 activity asks students to use Gene Weingarten’s “Below the Beltway” column in the Sunday Washington Post Magazine.


1.  Turning to a newspaper column for advice is not new. Here’s what the Newseum’s News History Gazette has to say about the middle of the 20th Century: “In the Chicago Sun-Times, Esther Pauline Lederer serves up advice as ‘Ann Landers.’ Her 1955 syndicated column quotes experts on health, marriage and the fate of missing socks. Her twin, Pauline Esther Phillips, starts a rival column, ‘Dear Abby,’ in the San Francisco Chronicle. Together, they reach 200 million readers.”

Have students find Carolyn Hax’s advice column, the “Ask Amy” column in the daily STYLE section and “Miss Manners” in the Wednesday STYLE. Who is seeking advice from each of these columnists? Do the columns appeal to different age groups? What kind of advice would you ask of each of them?


2.  Jonathan Yardley, a Pulitzer Prize-winning critic, occasionally writes about books and culture in STYLE. Other Post writers contribute a review of a recent publication in BOOK WORLD every day in STYLE.

Discuss with students why reviews are read. Answers will include

 •To get a sense of an author’s style

•To decide if the book is worth time to read and money to purchase it

•To compare this book with other’s on the same subject.

Have students read and print out from e-Replica a Jonathan Yardley column or a BOOK WORLD review. Then ask them to read the review again with markers in hand. Do each of the following:

•Highlight where the reviewer has quoted from the book

•Highlight in another color where the reviewer paraphrases or summarizes the author’s ideas

•Underline where the reviewer states his or her opinion of the book

•Bracket where a comparison is made with another author’s work or another work by the same author;

•Make a list of words with which they are unfamiliar.

•In a paragraph, summarize the book’s plot, message or other information that the student gained from reading the review.

Would they want to read the book? Why or why not? Have students write a letter to a friend in which they encourage or discourage the reading of the book that was reviewed. They need to include specific reasons for their evaluation.


3.  Have students read two or three Gene Weingarten columns from the Sunday Washington Post Magazine. Note with them that the columnist often presents his perspective and opinion by describing a scene, event or conversation that illustrates the point being made. It is also important to note that these descriptions are sometimes fictitious and/or highly exaggerated.

Ask students to identify some of their most irritating problems, their “pet peeves.” Students may be grouped based upon agreement about these irritations. The task for each group is to create a brief written narrative (including dialogue if appropriate) to describe an extreme manifestation of the problem. Though the focus is on humor, the presentation should clearly contain a “grain or two of truth amid the chaff.” Clear identification of the problem should not be sacrificed to entertainment.

In addition to submitting a written version of what becomes a satirical essay, each group’s presentation could also take the form of a performance or skit. The written version could be submitted as an item for the school paper’s editorial page or to the literary-art magazine with an illustration.


Academic Content Standards and Skills



Reading/Language Arts, Students will select and read to gain information from personal interest materials, such as brochures, books, magazines, cookbooks, catalogs and Web sites.


English, Grade 10, The student will read, comprehend and critique literary works. Examine a literary selection from several critical perspectives.

Washington, D.C.

Reading/English Language Arts, Grade 5, Language for Research and Inquiry, The student summarizes and critiques two or more local newspaper articles dealing with the same topic or issue.

Fundamental Aim:

Reinforce Performing a Task

Sub-skill Reinforcement:

Locating information, finding the main idea, comparing and contrasting, evaluating, drawing conclusions


What’s on TV Today?


The Post’s Lisa de Moraes tells you what’s happening on the air and behind the scenes in her column. Have students locate THE TV COLUMN to prepare for the following exercises:

In Level 1, paper and pencil will be needed.

For more on television and media, you can also read Hank Stuever’s occasional TV and celebrity column in the STYLE section.

1.  Have students briefly scan WHAT’S ON TODAY, the TV listings. What information can they gather?

•What are the four main categories for organizing TV programming on the grids? (Broadcast, Cable Movies, Cable and Movies/Sports)

•What time of day does TV programming “begin” in the Washington, D.C., area?  Why do they think The Post uses 7:00 PM. as the start time on the grid rather than earlier in the day?

•How are show titles organized?

•What category of programming is shaded?

•Which shows do students categorize as entertainment? As a source of information?

Ask students to write a list of three programs from each day that are of interest to them.

Ask the students to make a separate list of programs of interest to adults or older/younger siblings.

Tabulate results. Compare the choices made by the class. Which three shows received the most “interest” votes? Do students watch these TV shows?


2.  Divide the class into groups and have them devise a personalized viewing grid. Grids may be for someone interested in one of the following:




•the arts



•entertainment for under-ten-year-olds

•a particular culture


3.  Lead students in a brief review of the literature stories read thus far this year. Which was the class favorite? What were personal favorites? Discuss the storytelling differences between a novel or short story and a movie. Can students name and discuss books that have been adapted for the screen?

Organize students into pairs or small groups according to favorite stories. Students are to treat their story as though it were to be a movie shown on TV by completing the following tasks using THE TV COLUMN, HIGHLIGHTS and WHAT’S ON TODAY:

•HIGHLIGHTS: Write a brief description of the movie. Decide which network will show the movie. Which local channels carry this network? Schedule the movie so it will follow or precede the group’s favorite TV program. Why would this be good scheduling?

•THE TV COLUMN: Write two to four behind-the-scenes shorts about the stars (students cast who plays which characters), filming (students determine location, budget, director) and expectations of how it will be received. Have students read examples from several days so they get a feel for this column’ s topics.

•WHAT’S ON TODAY: Students use the computer to create a version of this page featuring their movies and schedule. You (or one of your students who enjoys using the computer or the group that finishes the first two portions of the assignment first) need to prepare a grid for the class to insert their programming. What happens when two or more groups want the same time slot, day and channel?


Academic Content Standards and Skills



Reading/English Language Arts, Grades 3-6, Students will identify and use text features to facilitate understanding of informational texts. Grades 7-8, Analyze text features to facilitate and extend understanding of informational texts.


English, The student will read and demonstrate comprehension of a variety of informational sources. Summarize what is read. Organize and synthesize information for use in written and oral presentations.

Washington, D.C.

Reading/English Language Arts, Grade 4, Language for Social Communication, Students

judge the extent to which the media provides a source of entertainment as well as a source of information.

Fundamental Aim:

Reinforce Interpreting

Sub-skill Reinforcement:

Locating information, understanding forms, finding the main idea, identifying, drawing conclusions, analyzing, decision making


Find a Reliable Source


Have students locate THE RELIABLE SOURCE column in STYLE to complete the following exercises. This column focuses on celebrities, well-known individuals and newsmakers.

Before beginning any of these exercises, discuss with students the importance of distinguishing fact from opinion and rumors.

Level 1 and 2 exercises use THE RELIABLE SOURCE columns as models. Level 3 asks students to consider the ethics of gossip columns and the legal issue of libel.

For a closer look at ethical decisions made by journalists and libel, you may wish to use “Tough Calls: How Do Journalists Make Ethical Decisions?” found on the Freedom Forum Web site at


1.  Before giving students the reproducible, “My Reliable Source,”or the STYLE section, ask them what they know about a person (teacher selected individual) who appears in a previous RELIABLE SOURCE column. After hearing their responses, read what THE RELIABLE SOURCE reports. What new information is provided?

Give students the reproducible, “My Reliable Source.” Obviously, number 1A will require the use of THE RELIABLE SOURCE column; however, students should be encouraged to answer 1B without the use of the column. For example, most would already know that Beyoncee is a pop music star and that Will Ferrell is a TV and motion picture star. Students should be directed to read the column to answer 1C. Specifically, what does THE RELIABLE SOURCE item report about this person? Use the students’ responses to #4 to help illustrate and explain the purpose and nature of stories and features.


2.  Explain to students that newsmakers and other celebrities are almost always the focus of THE RELIABLE SOURCE feature in STYLE. Choose a few excerpts from current and/or prior editions of THE RELIABLE SOURCE to help students understand the type of information presented through these brief profiles. You are likely to find examples of special pets, family gatherings, legal problems, follow-up to a past newsmaker’s story, or other leisure or volunteer activities outside the person’s popular, better-known line of work.

Lead students in a discussion of why the public wishes to know more about their celebrities or leaders. Which local or national figure would students like to know something beyond the person’s public life? What would they like to know about this person? Why would this information be interesting or useful? Is this type of information private and not in the category of “right to know”?

Have students identify a person in school (principal, cafeteria employee, guidance counselor, coach, school secretary) whom they would like to know better. Invite this individual to visit your classroom to be interviewed. Tell the individual that students will write a brief personality profile based upon the interview. As an alternative, teachers may know a member of the staff who has an interesting avocation, hobby or interest outside of school. Invite this person to be interviewed by your class.

Teachers will need to incorporate interviewing techniques with this exercise. Have students draft questions for the interview. Review those questions with students before the interview. Discuss the etiquette of allowing the interviewee to answer questions without interruption, phrasing the follow-up question and the right of the interviewee not to answer all questions. You may wish to use “The Right to Know vs. the Need to Know,” a lesson plan by Arnetta Garcin, or another of the ethics lesson plans provided by the American Society of Newspaper Editors at

This profile can be submitted to the yearbook, newspaper or literary-art magazine as a sidebar or feature.


3.  Columns such as THE RELIABLE SOURCE provide the opportunity to discuss the importance of reporting facts rather than rumors. It is also appropriate to introduce students to defamation and libel.

Ask students for the definitions of “source” and “reliable.” When the definitions are established, ask the following questions:

•Why do reporters need sources of information?

•What can happen if a source is not reliable?

•What does it mean to “verify” information?

If a writer has reported inaccurate information, The Post will acknowledge it. Show students the CORRECTION box on page 2 of MAIN NEWS. If information is challenged or new information is provided, should THE RELIABLE SOURCE readers expect to see it included in a future column?

After students have read THE RELIABLE SOURCE, ask them the following questions that are based on “Journalism’s do’s, don’ts and dilemmas,” a work sheet found in “Tough Calls: How Do Journalists Make Ethical Decisions?”

•Do the reports seem to be accurate, fair and balanced?

•Do the stories use named or anonymous sources?

•Has someone’s privacy been invaded?

•Is the reporting sensationalized?

•Is the reporting newsworthy?

•Is good news judgment used?

Explain to students that public figures do lose some of their privacy. Discuss where the line should be drawn.

Give students the definitions of “defamation” and “libel.” What is the importance of a person’s reputation? How important is the intent of the writer in determining if libel has occurred?

Defamation: A false statement that harms another person’s reputation.

Libel: A false picture or writing that harms another person’s reputation.

The Code of Ethics of the Society of Professional Journalists includes the following principles and standards of practice. (The entire Code of Ethics can be found at How do these apply to gossip or people columns?

Journalists should:

• Test the accuracy of information from all sources and exercise care to avoid inadvertent error. Deliberate distortion is never permissible.

• Diligently seek out subjects of news stories to give them the opportunity to respond to allegations of wrongdoing.

•Identify sources whenever feasible. The publicis entitled to as much information as possible onsources’ reliability.

•Always question sources’ motives before promising anonymity. Clarify conditions attached to any promise made in exchange for information. Keep promises.

•Make certain that headlines, news teases and promotional material, photos, video, audio, graphics, sound bites and quotations do not misrepresent.

They should not oversimplify or highlight incidents out of context. Have students write an essay in response to one of these questions.

•What happens when an individual’s right to personal privacy conflicts with the free flow of information?

•Are columns such as THE RELIABLE SOURCE a form of entertainment that should not have the same journalistic expectations as a news article?

•How are the rules of libel and defamation of character applicable to all sections of a newspaper?


Academic Content Standards and Skills



Reading/English Language Arts, Students will locate, retrieve, and use informationfrom various sources to accomplish a purpose. Grade 4, Credit sources when paraphrasing and quoting to avoid plagiarism.


English, Grade 9, The student will credit the sources of both quoted and paraphrased ideas. Distinguish one’s own ideas from information created or discovered by others.

Washington, D.C.

Reading/English Language Arts, Language as Literature, Students respond in many ways to a rich variety of literary texts and relate texts to their lives and the lives of others.

Fundamental Aim:

Reinforce Interpreting

Sub-skill Reinforcement:

Locating information, understanding forms, finding the main idea, identifying, drawing conclusions, analyzing, decision making