“Cliché” and “Stereotype”

Always something to learn about how the meaning of words has changed over time.

Lexie Kahn: Word Snooper

Much of printed literature is marked by clichés or stereotypes. I mean that literally. “Cliché” and “stereotype” are printing terms.

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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And: another thing.

Using ampersands? ‘No way! I’ll have to disagree with you there Paul.’ But…

Practical Copywriting Tips

When to replace 'and' with '&'. Concise copy is sweet!

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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Ten things I’ve learned from my copyeditor

One writer’s experience with her copy editor highlights why your editor is your collaborator to make your writing clear, engaging and sharp.

Ana Spoke, author

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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The true tale of Elizabeth Frensington-Smythe

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.

Practical Copywriting Tips

Lady Elizabeth Frensington-Smythe (of Abbotsford).

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:

‘Dear Liz,

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.’

Liz replied:

‘My name is Elizabeth Frensington-Smythe.

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