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Tag Archive | proofreading

How to Spend Less Time Revising 

Written by Lynn 
Syntax Training
Here are three ways to spend less time revising. They touch on planning, writing, and adjusting your standards. 

1. Make a simple plan and follow it. Diving in without a plan may give you a rush of accomplishment. But eventually you will have to slog through the revision stage, forcing your words and ideas into a coherent package.

Decide from the start what you want the message to accomplish. Examples:

  • This agenda will help team members prepare for a productive meeting.
  • This flyer will motivate parents to attend the open house.
  • This email will help the customer complete the necessary paperwork.

Once you know what you want to accomplish, list the questions your message must answer for your readers to achieve your goal. Then write the piece by answering your readers’ questions. Do not include information that your readers would not ask for. If you do, you will write too much and will spend too much time cutting and revising.
For instance, an agenda that helps people prepare for a meeting might answer these questions:

  • What are the agenda items?
  • Who is responsible for handling each agenda item?
  • How much time will we spend on each item?
  • What do we want to accomplish with each one: to agree? to decide? to assign?
  • How should I prepare?

Too often writers focus on background information, when readers rarely want or need it.

2. Use the power of one. When you write, limit yourself to one: just one topic per paragraph, one idea per sentence. Focusing on just one thing at a time will help you avoid sprawling paragraphs and sentences that you have to rework later.

For example, in a flyer to motivate parents to attend an open house, the answer to each of these questions would be a separate, short chunk of text:

  • What’s this about?
  • When is the open house?
  • Where is it?
  • Why should I attend? How will it benefit my family?
  • Who will be there?
  • Will food be served?
  • Do I need to let anyone know that I plan to attend?
  • Where can I get more information?

Combining the answers to several questions in one chunk of text will tangle the message. And it will require more time to revise.

Similarly, a sentence with several interwoven ideas will take time to untangle:

Our credit department has requested that you provide a copy of your exempt sales tax document and that you fill the top and signature portion of the credit application out just for assurance that we have the pertinent contact information correct.

This version, with one idea per sentence, is simple and clear:

Our credit department has requested that you provide a copy of your exempt sales tax document. Also, please fill out the top and signature portion of the credit application. These actions will ensure that we have your correct contact information.

Even better, this version helps the ideas stand out for quick action:

To ensure that we have your correct contact information, please:
  • Provide a copy of your exempt sales tax document.
  • Fill out the top and signature portion of the credit application.

If you limit yourself to one idea per sentence (or bullet), you will write a clear version from the start. The time you spend rewriting will shrink.

3. Recognize that perfection is unattainable—and a waste of time. Unless you write essays, poetry, or other literary works, your audience will not read and savor your every word. Instead, they will skim the agenda, flyer, email, proposal, report, or other communication in search of the information they need. So why strive for perfection when clarity, conciseness, and courtesy are useful, achievable goals?

Avoid pointless revising:

  • Don’t fuss over changing “interesting” to “notable” unless “notable” is more accurate.
  • Don’t take time to change “Thanks” to “Thank you” unless your reader needs a more formal tone.
  • Don’t struggle to eliminate “I am writing to” at the beginning of an email. Yes, your reader knows you are writing. But there is no harm in stating “I am writing to inform you of a change in your interview schedule.”
  • Don’t strive to revise just because two sentences in a row begin with “I.” Those two “I”s will not distract your reader. (But starting every paragraph with “I” willdistract your reader, who is probably skimming at the left margin.)
  • Don’t take time to apply outdated rules. You can start a sentence with any word you choose. You can end a sentence with a preposition. You can use contractions unless your document must be formal.

When your communication focuses on its goal and answers your readers’ questions in clear sentences and paragraphs, you are finished revising. Just run your grammar and spelling checker; then proofread. Hurray! The piece is done! Now move on to the next one.

Read More…

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10 Very Costly Typos

Typos can be embarrassing. They can also be costly. And not just for those individuals whose jobs depend on knowing the difference between “it’s” and “its” or where a comma is most appropriate. Last weekend, bauble-loving Texans got the deal of a lifetime when a misprint in a Macy’s mailer advertised a $1500 necklace for just $47. (It should have read $497.) It didn’t take long for the entire inventory to be zapped, at a loss of $450 a pop to the retail giant. (Not to mention plenty of faces as red as the star in the company’s logo.)

Google, on the other hand, loves a good typing transposition. Not only is the mega-search engine’s own name a happy accident (it was supposed to be Googol; the domain name was incorrectly registered), but Harvard University researchers claim that the company earns about $497 million each year from everyday people mistyping the names of popular websites and landing on “typosquatter” sites… which just happen to be littered with Google ads. (Ka-ching!)

Here are 10 other costly typos that give the phrase “economy of words” new meaning.

1. NASA’S MISSING HYPHEN

The damage: $80 million

Hyphens don’t usually score high on the list of most important punctuation. But a single dash led to absolute failure for NASA in 1962 in the case of Mariner 1, America’s first interplanetary probe. The mission was simple: get up close and personal with close neighbor Venus. But a single missing hyphen in the coding used to set trajectory and speed caused the craft to explode just minutes after takeoff. 2001: A Space Odyssey novelist Arthur C. Clarke called it “the most expensive hyphen in history.”

2. THE CASE OF THE ANTIQUE ALE

The damage: $502,996

A missing ‘P’ cost one sloppy (and we’d have to surmise ill-informed) eBay seller more than half-a-mill on the 150-year-old beer he was auctioning. Few collectors knew a bottle of Allsopp’s Arctic Ale was up for bid, because it was listed as a bottle of Allsop’s Arctic Ale. One eagle-eyed bidder hit a payday of Antiques Roadshow proportions when he came across the rare booze, purchased it for $304, then immediately re-sold it for $503,300.

3. THE BIBLE PROMOTES PROMISCUITY

The damage: $4590 (and eternal damnation)

Not even the heavenly father is immune to occasional inattention to detail. In 1631, London’s Baker Book House rewrote the 10 Commandments when a missing word in the seventh directive declared, “Thou shalt commit adultery.” Parliament was not singing hallelujah; they declared that all erroneous copies of the Good Book—which came to be known as “The Wicked Bible”—be destroyed and fined the London publisher 3000 pounds.

4. PASTA GETS RACIST

The damage: $20,000

A plate of tagliatelle with sardines and prosciutto would typically only be offensive to a vegetarian’s senses. But an unfortunate blunder in The Pasta Bible, published by Penguin Australia in 2010, recommended seasoning the dish with “salt and freshly ground black people.” Though no recall was made of the books already in circulation, the printer quickly destroyed all 7000 remaining copies in its inventory. Read More…

The the impotence of proofreading

Here’s another performance of Taylor Mali, this time on the importance of proofreading your works.

A good laugh and yet some food for thought 🙂

 

Has this ever happened to you?
You work very horde on a paper for English clash
And then get a very glow raid (like a D or even a D=)
and all because you are the word1s liverwurst spoiler.
Proofreading your peppers is a matter of the the utmost impotence.

This is a problem that affects manly, manly students.
I myself was such a bed spiller once upon a term
that my English teacher in my sophomoric year,
Mrs. Myth, said I would never get into a good colleague.
And that1s all I wanted, just to get into a good colleague.
Not just anal community colleague,
because I wouldn1t be happy at anal community colleague.
I needed a place that would offer me intellectual simulation,
I really need to be challenged, challenged dentally.
I know this makes me sound like a stereo,
but I really wanted to go to an ivory legal collegue.
So I needed to improvement
or gone would be my dream of going to Harvard, Jail, or Prison
(in Prison, New Jersey).

So I got myself a spell checker
and figured I was on Sleazy Street.

But there are several missed aches
that a spell chukker can1t can1t catch catch.
For instant, if you accidentally leave a word
your spell exchequer won1t put it in you.
And God for billing purposes only
you should have serial problems with Tori Spelling
your spell Chekhov might replace a word
with one you had absolutely no detention of using.
Because what do you want it to douch?
It only does what you tell it to douche.
You1re the one with your hand on the mouth going clit, clit, clit.
It just goes to show you how embargo
one careless clit of the mouth can be.

Which reminds me of this one time during my Junior Mint.
The teacher read my entire paper on A Sale of Two Titties
out loud to all of my assmates.
I1m not joking, I1m totally cereal.
It was the most humidifying experience of my life,
being laughed at pubically.

So do yourself a flavor and follow these two Pisces of advice:
One: There is no prostitute for careful editing.
And three: When it comes to proofreading,
the red penis your friend.

http://taylormali.com

Cincirily,

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