Tuesday, June 26, 2007

how not to create a powerpoint presentation

I don't own PowerPoint and I've never had to create a PowerPoint presentation, but I recently found this absolutely hilarious comedy routine by Don McMillan on YouTube that touches on a lot of common errors that many presenters and writers make in their copy.

I don't want to spoil the video, so I'll let you watch it and come to your own conclusions. But do take this guy's cautions to heart!

Monday, June 11, 2007

a letter of reference from an editing client

June 1, 2007

To whom it may concern,

This letter is to recommend Michelle Lynne Goodfellow as a competent copy-editor. A few weeks ago, as I was trying to muster the energy to read through the final proof of my upcoming book, I came across Michelle’s blog “tell it well”. I immediately contacted Michelle and told her about my situation and about my specific requirements. Michelle agreed to help. Since I wanted the work done very quickly, we agreed to work on my manuscript simultaneously, she starting from the beginning and I from the end. Michelle’s willingness to help made the looming task seem a lot less insurmountable to me and, together, we finished the project within a few days.

Because of the tight deadline and the late stage in the publication process, I asked Michelle to concentrate mainly on the consistency with which dates were given and commas were used. For example, I wanted month-year combinations to be given without a comma (“June 2007” rather than “June, 2007”) and I wanted serial commas to be dropped (“pigeons, robins, song sparrows and blue jays” rather than “pigeons, robins, song sparrows, and blue jays”). Not only did Michelle catch many offending commas, but she also drew my attention to a number of compound modifiers in need of hyphens, to the inconsistent appearance of a certain abbreviation I used and to one particularly awkward sentence. I believe Michelle’s work was both efficient and thorough and I would gladly turn to her again in the future for related assistance.


Elizabeth Sander

(Author of Social Dancing in Peter the Great's Russia: Observations by Holstein Nobleman Friedrich Wilhelm von Bergholz, 1721 to 1725, published by Olms in 2007)

Thursday, June 07, 2007

can u spell gud?

I found this online spelling test while doing some research. It's from a site created by a former copy editor - she's come up with a list of 50 commonly misspelled words based on her eleven years' experience.

Take the test here.

Don't be embarrassed if you don't do well. These are tricky words. I'd hate to admit my first score. Needless to say, I've since learned by heart the words I originally spelled incorrectly.

How can you reduce spelling mistakes in your own writing? Use a dictionary to look up every word you're not sure of. The second time I took the above test, I used a dictionary. When we pour passion and intention into our learning, it sticks in the brain longer.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

have someone proofread your copy

No-one is immune from mistakes.

(Even me.)*

If your copy matters, have someone read it - preferably someone with knowledge of grammar and style. If they're not an English professor, at least they can still catch typos and point out confusing sentences.

If you can afford to hire someone to proofread for you, even better. A good pro can catch subtle errors like the one two sentences ago. (And if you have no idea what that error might be, you definitely need to hire someone!)

I was looking through some online employment wanted ads for freelance copywriters and editors on craigslist recently. I couldn't believe the number of typos I spotted - even when the writing was otherwise good.

I repeat: If your copy matters, have someone read it.

*A few of my friends who are writers or editors have pointed out errors in my blog copy. I am thankful to them!