“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…

View original post 76 more words

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…

View original post 38 more words

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…

View original post 458 more words

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.

View original post 153 more words

Notes on DL brochures

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.
Enjoy!

Practical Copywriting Tips

An easy way so see DL. An easy way so see DL.

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,

View original post 150 more words

What is the Value of an Editor?

Thanks to some fellow editors who introduced me to Molly McCowan’s blog, I want to share this with you, to encourage you to really consider just how much a good editor can add to your writing.

Enjoy – and remember to leave a comment.

Molly McCowan - Inkbot Editing

(Via Boston Public Library on Flickr) “Women in Quiet Study,” 1850–1920 (approximate). Courtesy of Boston Public Library on Flickr.

About a year ago, I was at a networking event when I was approached by a middle-aged man wearing a black sport coat over a lightweight periwinkle sweater. He was holding a glass of red wine in one hand, and the word “author” was written in blue Sharpie underneath the neatly printed name on his name tag. My name tag didn’t sport the word “editor,” so for the moment I was free to learn more about him before divulging my career.

We shook hands and exchanged small talk for a moment before I asked him what he was currently writing. He responded, “Oh, I’ve been working on my second novel. It’s part of a fantasy trilogy that I’ve been writing for the last few years.” I asked him about his first book and discovered that he had…

View original post 1,166 more words

Another quick tutorial on apostrophes…

So beautifully explained by Australian author, Amanda Curtin, this tutorial will help you on your quest for clear, sharp writing.

looking up/looking down

iStock_000018482964XSmallThis especially quick tutorial is to clarify a single apostrophe usage that often confuses writers.

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.

meaning:

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]

Again…

View original post 14 more words