Wednesday, August 15, 2007

sample copy editing for a training consultant

I just found this training consultant's website. He has fantastic energy and ideas, but his site isn't easy to read - which is interesting, because he also offers seminars on business writing skills!

The ideas are definitely great. Here's an example:

Make it short. Make it count. Business writing is a specialized skill. You can master it. Spend one day with [name withheld] at his Business Writing Skills Workshop. You'll learn how to make your writing come alive. How to grab and hold your reader's attention.

Further down the same page, however, the reader gets bogged down:

You will learn how to get to the point... Quickly
Spot and correct basic writing faults
Choose words that command atttention and hold interest
Organize your writing to invite readers
Make better use of computers... Word processors and e-mail

Those are all great points. But this writer has a strange quirk - he writes like Capt. James T. Kirk talks... with... unnecessary ellipses and... Unnecessary random... Capitalizations. (There's also a typo in the third line.)

A better way to present the above guidelines might be:

You will learn how to get to the point - quickly.
Spot and correct basic writing faults.
Choose words that command attention and hold interest.
Organize your writing to invite readers in.
Make better use of computers, word processors and e-mail.

(Notice how the periods at the end of each line anchor the ideas, and help the reading flow.)

There are more examples of random ellipses further down the same page. Here's a collection of the offenders:

Five guidelines for Clear... Fast reading
Use Simple... Familiar words
Avoid affectation... It's weak

Talk to your reader with - You... We... I
Use message / comment format to organize your thinking

The above should be changed to the following for greater clarity:

Five guidelines for clear, fast reading.
Use simple, familiar words.
Avoid affectation - it's weak.
Talk to your reader with words like: You... We... I...
Use a message/comment format to organize your thinking.

All-in-all, it's not a horrible site. The layout is simple, and the text is informative, large and easy to read. The colour scheme looks amateurish, but again - it's simple. Once this fellow gets rid of his offending ellipses and Capitalizations, he'll be well on his way to having a site that reflects the professionalism he wishes to project.

I would recommend that this consultant hire a good copywriter to tidy up his website's copy, and also hire a web designer to create a more sophisticated appearance for the site.

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