Using headings in your nonfiction writing helps both the writing and the reading processes.
Always something to learn about how the meaning of words has changed over time.
As mentioned in a previous post, it’s unknown whether the word “click” came from French cliquer or German klicken or was invented independently. We do know that English “borrowed” the word “cliché” from French (though I doubt we’ll give it back). As it happens, the Oxford English Dictionary informs us, “cliché” is the past participle of clicher, variant of cliquer to click, applied by die-sinkers to the striking of melted lead in order to obtain a proof or cast.
“Cliché” is the French word for a stereotype block, that is, ‘a relief printing plate cast in a mold made from composed type or an original plate.’ Since the letters in a stereotype block are fixed in place and the same phrases are printed again and again without…
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Using ampersands? ‘No way! I’ll have to disagree with you there Paul.’ But…
I just did the penultimate edit of a resume (CV).
My client asked why I changed most instances of ‘and’ to ampersands (&) in his many bullet points.
Here’s what I replied:
In the context of this document, using ampersands lets busy recruiters cut to the chase without having to trip over 50 or so connecting words.
The ampersands fade into the background, bringing keywords to the fore.
Also, the four pages you sent were pretty dense, so this change got some bullets onto fewer lines – and created more white space between them.
All for easier reading – in case it’s 5 pm, on a Friday, and yours is the 99th resume of the day.
And if the recruiter is using software to scan your resume for keywords, it won’t be interested in ‘and’ under any circumstances.
I also removed most instances of…
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One writer’s experience with her copy editor highlights why your editor is your collaborator to make your writing clear, engaging and sharp.
Despite being the single highest cost of self-publishing so far, the copyedit will be the one expense I will never regret.
That would have been the list if this article was entitled “A single most important thing I’ve learned”. But it’s not, so there are ten more below. Which I guess makes it eleven…never mind! Anyway, after getting eight quotes and four samples from Australian and American editors, I chose Lu Sexton of A Story to Tell to copyedit Shizzle, Inc and I’m blown away with the results. To be honest, I had a lot of reservations about paying for editing. After all I’ve already had a structural edit; I’ve revised the draft no less than a hundred times myself; I speaka English real good. Handing over cash for a promise of making your draft better is scary, even if that promise comes with a professional reputation and an exceptional…
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Good copywriters and editors look at both the big picture and the tiny details. And doesn’t it show!
Again, thanks to the talented Paul Hassing for this post.
I was rewriting a large website for a client with the glorious double-barrelled name (changed for this tale) of Elizabeth Frensington-Smythe.
With big projects, I often begin with small bits and work my way up at increasing speed.
Staff bios (profiles) are a great starting point.
When I got to Elizabeth’s bio, I recalled that she’d introduced herself to me as Liz.
She also signed her emails as Liz, yet her email address was Elizabeth@Frensington-SmytheEnterprises.com.
And so I wrote:
Are you predominantly Liz, Lizzy, Elizabeth (or some other permutation) to your various audiences?
The name they read should be the one they use.
If we can pick one variation and use it consistently across all communication channels, we’ll strengthen your brand.
If, however, use is situational, we can give this idea a miss.’
‘My name is Elizabeth Frensington-Smythe.
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How words sit on the page is so important in these haven’t-got-time-to-deal-with-hard-to-read-stuff days.
The Feisty Empire copywriter and editor, Paul Hassing, shares his thoughts.
A client asked me to edit a brochure and suggest a format.
Once I saw what the brochure was for (promoting a course to time-poor execs) I suggested ‘DL’ format.
So what the hell is DL? Swim Communications puts it very well.
In short, DL is a third the size of A4 (the size you stick in your printer).
My client, who had imagined an A4 format, asked why I preferred DL.
So I said:
‘DL is easier and cheaper to post to many prospects.
Also, I feel it looks more businesslike.
If you go flat A4, you’ll either have to post it folded anyway, or add cardboard to stop it getting mangled en route.
But if you hit a non-A4 letterbox, it’ll get mangled anyway.
Not a good look for your brand.
Folded DLs are also easier to hand out at events,
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Editors add real value to your writing. Spending time and money to hire a professional editor pays in unexpected ways.
So beautifully explained by Australian author, Amanda Curtin, this tutorial will help you on your quest for clear, sharp writing.
In manuscripts—and even in print—I frequently see the following:
Let’s go to the Molloy’s house.
Grammatically, this means:
Let’s go to the house of the Molloy.
Now, perhaps there is a big burly guy out there who is referred to as ‘the Molloy’, as in ‘Give that burrito to the Molloy before he chews someone’s arm.’ In that case, the above would be correct. But what the writer usually means is:
Let’s go to the Molloys’ house.
Let’s go to the house of the Molloys. [a couple, or a family, or the three banjo-playing Molloy sisters]
If, on the other hand, the writer is referring to a particular Molloy:
Let’s go to the house of Molloy. [e.g. Joe Molloy]
then it would be:
Let’s go to Molloy’s house. [singular Molloy; no definite article]
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I prefer 'show and tell' rather than giving wordy explanations. Enjoy these examples (with very brief comments) of simple ways you can sharpen your writing - and that will please your readers.
Fiction writers work hard to develop their voice. And it's just as important for business writers. Learn how a style guide for your business will help keep your writing consistent, clear, engaging and sharp.