Wednesday, August 15, 2007

sample edit for a training firm

I just found a business website that describes a company's trademarked training program for business writing.

The training program looks innovative and compelling. The site is visually appealing, and the copy is reasonably clean - but there are occasional errors that detract from the site's overall professionalism.

Here's one example:

Developed at Harvard and Columbia Universities in the late 1960's, the unique, research-based methodology, [name withheld] has become a world leading best-practice for creating high-quality, structured content that is easy to use, reuse, and maintain. These easy-to-learn, field-proven solutions have helped leading commercial and government organizations worldwide improve performance, solve information-intensive business challenges, and achieve long-term, measurable results.

There are two long, information-heavy sentences in the above paragraph, and the meaning of the first sentence becomes unclear due to a misplaced comma.

In addition, the use of hyphens in copy throughout the site is uneven, as in illustrated in one instance above. (Hint: compound modifiers should be hyphenated to improve clarity. Don't unnecessarily hyphenate the noun that is modified.)

An optional correction would be to remove the apostrophe in "1960's," as recommended in most contemporary style guides.

Here's the corrected copy:

Developed at Harvard and Columbia Universities in the late 1960s, the unique, research-based methodology known as [name withheld] has become a world-leading best practice for creating high-quality, structured content that is easy to use, reuse and maintain. These easy-to-learn, field-proven solutions have helped leading commercial and government organizations worldwide improve performance, solve information-intensive business challenges, and achieve long-term, measurable results.

If this is your company's website, you should be commended on its clean, simple design. The writing is very good - no doubt a testament to your valuable training method. But you should have someone proofread the site and correct the occasional style errors.

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