Editing

self-editing-1338212-217x143

3 Tips for Self-Editing

by Mistina Picciano  ||   2 Comments

Even professional writers – from Margaret Atwood to Kurt Vonnegut – benefit from the expert guidance of an editor. The same holds true for anyone who puts pen to paper – or fingers to keyboard – and represents either himself or his organization to the world.

But what if you don’t have an editor handy? Or the budget to subject every memo and email to scrutiny?

Try these three tips, and see how your writing improves:

(more…)

How Many Kinds of Grammar Are There Really?

by Travis Heermann  ||   No Comments

Most people believe that English grammar is simply English grammar. There is a right way and a wrong way to construct a sentence, a right place and a wrong place to put a comma, words that go together and words that don’t. For the most part, this is true. There are dozens, perhaps hundreds, of tiny rules that native speakers instinctively know and follow when communicating. What most people don’t realize is how mutable some of these rules are, and how others are not, and where the differences lie.

For example, did you know that types of adjectives are nearly always used in a certain order? Take a look at this phrase: the big yellow Chinese vase. There are three adjectives, big, yellow, and Chinese, all of which describe a vase. Try speaking the same phrase with the adjectives in a different order.

On the other hand, consider the sentence, “We might could go out tonight.” It sounds strange to a large portion of the English-speaking world, because there are two modal verbs, might and could, when normally only one is allowed. However, to natives of the American South, it sounds perfectly fine, and, in fact, carries shades of meaning that are different from either of the phrases might go or could go. If meaning is accurately conveyed, isn’t it still “proper English?” (more…)

Breathe in, breathe out. With a comma.

by Mistina Picciano  ||   No Comments

If you want to communicate your written message clearly, then you owe it to yourself, and your audience, to be purposeful about punctuation. Take the comma. Used correctly, it can help your readers navigate their way through some of your most sophisticated prose. Used effectively, it can add a subtle pause to accentuate your point.

About 30 percent of the time, a comma is optional. Whether you choose to use one after an introductory phrase, for instance, is a matter of style.

On June 20 I wrote my first blog entry.
On June 20, I wrote my first blog entry.

But 70 percent of the time, you really do need to know when and where to use this punctuation device.

Maybe you recall your sixth-grade English teacher telling you to put a comma before the last item in a series of three of more. OK, so you don’t remember. The point is, she was teaching you about the serial comma, as in:

Would you like coffee, tea, or water?

The serial comma is a holdover from prescriptive (traditional) punctuation. Within the past several years, this classic device has been shelved in favor of a more open style for mainstream communication.

Would you like coffee, tea or a latte?

But whether you’re a traditionalist or a non-serial-comma user, correct punctuation still counts for something. Compare the following:

Welcome Jim.
Welcome, Jim.

Due to the absence of the comma, the first example is actually a command imploring readers to make Jim feel welcome. With its correct use of the comma, the second example is an eloquent invitation for Jim to feel welcome.

Still think punctuation is just for language sissies? Consider these two seemingly identical sentences:

A woman without her man is nothing.
A woman – without her, man is nothing.

With the insertion of both a dash and a comma, the first sentiment has been transformed. What was once a glib affirmation of feminine dependence is now a feminist rallying cry. And it’s all thanks to some well-placed punctuation.

We live in an age of instant gratification, where anyone with a Twitter account can dash off a pithy 140-characters-or-fewer update. But it’s the passionate, attentive wordsmith who will continue to advance clear communication. So learn to use the almighty comma, among other tools of punctuation. Either that, or find yourself a good editor.

Do Your Documents Show Your Age?

by Mistina Picciano  ||   No Comments

Back in the day, Ms. Nancy Duty taught me—and the rest of Bruceville-Eddy High school—to use two spaces at the end of every sentence and after colons. Most of us were learning to type on IBM Selectrics, although a few were using the newfangled electronic typewriters. (The previous year, my eighth-grade class had started to learn typing on Macs, but the school still had a limited number of computers.)

I never gave any further thought to this practice until I read an article on typesetting in John McWade’s Before & After magazine. This design guru said that the extra space wasn’t necessary in computer typesetting. I stopped using the second space immediately, but I’ve continued to encounter—and delete—countless extra spaces over the last 15 years.

As Cathline Marshall of Studio K&M once pointed out, that extra space “shows your age.” It tells readers that you learned to type in the BC era (before computers), when fonts were monospaced and the letter “m” took up just as much space as the letter “l”. In fact, HTML automatically deletes the second space, requiring serious effort to stick in that little character.

And really, why would you?

Did they ever give us a good reason for that extra space? Ms. Duty told us to use it, period. Sort of like the Ten Commandments coming down from Mount Sinai. Originally, this rule improved readability by clearly showing the end of a sentence, but with the advent of computers and variable-spaced fonts, it was no longer necessary.

Now, it’s annoying. (I can’t count the number of times I’ve found an extra space lurking in an otherwise-pristine document—usually because I tried to manually eliminate all the little offenders.)

Maybe you’re old school, and you honestly think that there’s a legitimate reason for using that extra space. Please accept the fact that this is no longer standard practice, and try not to be offended when editors remove every last one of those buggers.

Don’t believe me? Check out the Chicago Manual of Style.

Playing the Numbers Game: Percentages & Time in Writing

by Mistina Picciano  ||   No Comments

Howard Levy, principal of Red Rooster Group, asks the following questions about proper style for percentages and time:

When you have a range of numbers referred to in a sentence, do you use an en dash or the word “to”? As in “20 to 40%” or “20 – 40%”?

Also, would you use the % sign after both the 20 and the 40?

What about time ranges? Do you need to use the :00 in all cases, even if some times start at :30, as in 6 – 7:30 pm vs. 6:00 – 7:30?

All excellent questions. As is typical when dealing with English grammar rules and style guidelines, the answers depend on the circumstances.

Percentages

  • When working with a technical document, the standard convention calls for a numeral and the percentage sign. Ex. The control group experienced a 5%7% reduction in discomfort.
  • In nontechnical text, the convention is to use the numeral with the word percent. Ex. Marci predicted a 75 percent chance that John would cancel their date.
  • That being said, The Chicago Manual of Style advocates use of the percentage symbol in nontechnical text that’s chock-full of percentages. Direct-response marketing copy, which relies heavily on specific proof, falls into this category. (Plus, testing shows that the percentage sign does a better job of grabbing readers’ attention.) Ex. This little-known stock produced gains of 286% after only six months.

Beyond that, using “to” versus an en dash or opting for one or two percentage signs depends on house style or client preference. The style selected simply needs to be consistent—certainly within the document and preferably throughout the organization’s materials.

Time of Day

Use numerals—including the zeros for even hours—when emphasizing exact time. (Times ranges fall in this category.) Ex. The meeting was scheduled to start at 6:00 p.m. and end at 7:30 p.m.

When referring to time of day in even, half or quarter hours, spell it out. Ex. The wedding ceremony begins at two thirty.

If you’re curious, the appropriate style for abbreviating ante meridiem and post meridiem is either lowercase with periods (a.m. and p.m.) or small caps without periods (which I can’t figure out with WordPress’s limited formatting options).

Latest from the blog:

How to Connect with Readers and Grow Your Audience

Whether you run a business or a marketing team, you need a content marketing plan. Of course, developing and executing this plan is easier said than done, especially when juggling multiple priorities. Experts recommend setting aside time to sketch out topics, then writing posts and even developing general themes by week or by month. Then,…

Read the Article »

What our clients have to say:

George Donohue

“Market it Write makes the copywriting process painless. Their responsiveness and professionalism kept the project on track, despite a tight deadline. Mistina has a keen ability to understand the client’s needs, and she uses her intelligence and creativity to convey those needs in succinct copy.”

 

George Donohue, GMAC Real Estate IPG
Industry: Real estate   |   Services: Newsletters, corporate communications, investor relations

2015-04-25T18:49:31+00:00

George Donohue, GMAC Real Estate IPG
Industry: Real estate   |   Services: Newsletters, corporate communications, investor relations

“Market it Write makes the copywriting process painless. Their responsiveness and professionalism kept the project on track, despite a tight deadline. Mistina has a keen ability to understand the client’s needs, and she uses her intelligence and creativity to convey those needs in succinct copy.”  

Barbara Centrella

“You made the experience fun, and you brought so much to the table—things that I would never have thought of on my own. You added a dimension that brings the work to life. I was very pleased with the first media kit and am blown away by the second.”

 

Barbara Centrella, children’s author
Industry: Publishing   |   Services: Media kit

2015-04-25T18:52:18+00:00

Barbara Centrella, children’s author
Industry: Publishing   |   Services: Media kit

“You made the experience fun, and you brought so much to the table—things that I would never have thought of on my own. You added a dimension that brings the work to life. I was very pleased with the first media kit and am blown away by the second.”  

Terry Yoffe

“Market it Write was able to take the content from my last website and transform it to my new one, making the content clear, informative and to the point. The clarity of the content has been so powerful that I have gotten several new clients based on my website. I found Mistina and her team to be easy to work with and very willing to listen to concerns and objectives and work through them in a very professional way.”

 

Terry Yoffe, TRY Coaching
Industry: Professional services   |   Services: Website content

2015-04-25T18:49:53+00:00

Terry Yoffe, TRY Coaching
Industry: Professional services   |   Services: Website content

“Market it Write was able to take the content from my last website and transform it to my new one, making the content clear, informative and to the point. The clarity of the content has been so powerful that I have gotten several new clients based on my website. I found Mistina and her team to be easy to work with and very willing to listen to concerns and objectives and work through them in a very professional way.”  

Hiroto Takagi

“Many writers want to say things their way, but Market it Write understood exactly what I wanted to say—and that’s what they wrote. Market it Write works for me and for my business. I recommend the company to anybody who needs writing help.

 

Hiroto Takagi, Bryton Harry
Industry: Sports marketing   |   Services: Website content, marketing support

2015-04-25T18:52:52+00:00

Hiroto Takagi, Bryton Harry
Industry: Sports marketing   |   Services: Website content, marketing support

“Many writers want to say things their way, but Market it Write understood exactly what I wanted to say—and that’s what they wrote. Market it Write works for me and for my business. I recommend the company to anybody who needs writing help.  

Howard Levy

“I have known Mistina for a while and have since hired her firm on retainer to write our website copy, email newsletters, postcards and articles. Market it Write understands my business, helps develop ideas and writes great copy. They are highly professional, dedicated to their craft and easy to work with.”

 

Howard Levy, Red Rooster Group
Industry: Creative Agency   |   Services: Marketing consultation, bylined articles, blogs, website content

2015-04-25T18:47:41+00:00

Howard Levy, Red Rooster Group
Industry: Creative Agency   |   Services: Marketing consultation, bylined articles, blogs, website content

“I have known Mistina for a while and have since hired her firm on retainer to write our website copy, email newsletters, postcards and articles. Market it Write understands my business, helps develop ideas and writes great copy. They are highly professional, dedicated to their craft and easy to work with.”  

Samuel Vinicur

“Market it Write does fabulous work. Mistina's team takes the time to understand both their clients and their clients' audiences. I highly recommend engaging them for any communications efforts you have.”

 

Samuel Vinicur, TSS International
Industry: Security & Investigations   |   Services: Corporate communications, press releases

2015-04-25T18:48:35+00:00

Samuel Vinicur, TSS International
Industry: Security & Investigations   |   Services: Corporate communications, press releases

“Market it Write does fabulous work. Mistina's team takes the time to understand both their clients and their clients' audiences. I highly recommend engaging them for any communications efforts you have.”  

Albert Barette

"Our executive staff reviewed the final product, and it was excellent. Thanks to you and your team for all your input and contributing to our new website. The vertical market sheets were also excellent."

 

Albert Barette, Bowles Security Group
Industry: Security & Investigations   |   Services: Brand strategy, website development, marketing materials

2015-04-25T18:46:25+00:00

Albert Barette, Bowles Security Group
Industry: Security & Investigations   |   Services: Brand strategy, website development, marketing materials

"Our executive staff reviewed the final product, and it was excellent. Thanks to you and your team for all your input and contributing to our new website. The vertical market sheets were also excellent."  

Lucien Harriot

"I'm always inspired after a meeting with Market it Write. Mistina's insight into the needs of my company's marketing strategy brings clarity to our messaging and pushes our company closer to the high-performance business model we strive for."

 

Lucien Harriot, Mechanism Digital
Industry: Media   |   Services: Marketing strategy, marketing materials

2015-04-25T18:47:19+00:00

Lucien Harriot, Mechanism Digital
Industry: Media   |   Services: Marketing strategy, marketing materials

"I'm always inspired after a meeting with Market it Write. Mistina's insight into the needs of my company's marketing strategy brings clarity to our messaging and pushes our company closer to the high-performance business model we strive for."  

Arianne Andrusco

"Have I mentioned how wonderful you are lately? This is good stuff. It is such a pleasure to work with someone who hears the feedback and just gets it immediately. You really are making my job a lot easier. Thank you!"

 

Arianne Andrusco, NewYork-Presbyterian
Industry: Healthcare   |   Services: Direct mail campaigns

2015-04-25T18:45:55+00:00

Arianne Andrusco, NewYork-Presbyterian
Industry: Healthcare   |   Services: Direct mail campaigns

"Have I mentioned how wonderful you are lately? This is good stuff. It is such a pleasure to work with someone who hears the feedback and just gets it immediately. You really are making my job a lot easier. Thank you!"  

Gerald Pennington

“The Market it Write team has the ability to grasp what we want to accomplish and put those concepts into words quickly—faster than we could in-house. Whenever they communicate, they respect the demands of our schedules and politely get right to the facts.”

 

Gerald Pennington, Stryker Spine Global Marketing
Industry: Healthcare   |   Services: Employee newsletters, corporate communications

2015-04-25T18:49:09+00:00

Gerald Pennington, Stryker Spine Global Marketing
Industry: Healthcare   |   Services: Employee newsletters, corporate communications

“The Market it Write team has the ability to grasp what we want to accomplish and put those concepts into words quickly—faster than we could in-house. Whenever they communicate, they respect the demands of our schedules and politely get right to the facts.”  

Larissa Nycz Montecullo

“We have had the pleasure and opportunity to work with Market it Write on a daily basis over the past several months, and regularly for over a year prior. Their writing talent, attention to detail, and business savvy across industries make the Market it Write team an incredibly valuable asset to any company.”

 

Larissa Nycz Montecullo, Tribecca Designs
Industry: Creative agency   |   Services: Website content, marketing materials, ad copy

2015-04-25T18:50:56+00:00

Larissa Nycz Montecullo, Tribecca Designs
Industry: Creative agency   |   Services: Website content, marketing materials, ad copy

“We have had the pleasure and opportunity to work with Market it Write on a daily basis over the past several months, and regularly for over a year prior. Their writing talent, attention to detail, and business savvy across industries make the Market it Write team an incredibly valuable asset to any company.”  

Adam Wolf

“Market it Write’s copywriting and editing acumen is only matched by their excellent client service and easy-to-work with demeanor. I’d recommend the firm for any marketing writing assignment.”

 

Adam Wolf, Wolf Communications
Industry: Creative agency   |   Services: Website content, copyediting

2015-04-25T18:51:53+00:00

Adam Wolf, Wolf Communications
Industry: Creative agency   |   Services: Website content, copyediting

“Market it Write’s copywriting and editing acumen is only matched by their excellent client service and easy-to-work with demeanor. I’d recommend the firm for any marketing writing assignment.”  

Stephen May

“Market it Write is amazingly adept at working as a team player on a variety of projects and has consistently proven to be a valuable asset. Bottom line: if you need creative and powerful writing for your marketing effort, look no further.”

 

Stephen May, Crescent Leaf Technologies
Industry: Creative agency   |   Services: Website content

2015-04-25T18:50:35+00:00

Stephen May, Crescent Leaf Technologies
Industry: Creative agency   |   Services: Website content

“Market it Write is amazingly adept at working as a team player on a variety of projects and has consistently proven to be a valuable asset. Bottom line: if you need creative and powerful writing for your marketing effort, look no further.”  

Joe Biondo

“Market it Write adds a level of professionalism, insight and creativity rarely seen in our industry. They consistently deliver exceptional marketing ideas, unique materials and solutions that have allowed us to move forward with our business development and marketing programs. They ‘get it’ and know how to articulate your message. They are true professionals, a pleasure to work with, and I would recommend them without hesitation to any business or organization looking to increase their business, membership and/or public image.”

 

Joe Biondo, Summit Investigations
Industry: Security & Investigations   |   Services: Sales letters, advertisement copy, website content

2015-04-25T18:48:07+00:00

Joe Biondo, Summit Investigations
Industry: Security & Investigations   |   Services: Sales letters, advertisement copy, website content

“Market it Write adds a level of professionalism, insight and creativity rarely seen in our industry. They consistently deliver exceptional marketing ideas, unique materials and solutions that have allowed us to move forward with our business development and marketing programs. They ‘get it’ and know how to articulate your message. They are true professionals, a pleasure to work with, and I would recommend them without hesitation to any business or organization looking to increase their business, membership and/or public image.”  

Lee Angus

“I loved having Market it Write do the interviews and walk us through the drafts to the final version, and I was impressed with your ability to condense the story to meet our needs. It was also nice to have someone ‘outside’ write the story. The results seemed more objective than they would have been if I had written it.”

 

Lee Angus, Legacy Alliance
Industry: Professional services   |   Services: Corporate communication

2015-04-25T18:51:21+00:00

Lee Angus, Legacy Alliance
Industry: Professional services   |   Services: Corporate communication

“I loved having Market it Write do the interviews and walk us through the drafts to the final version, and I was impressed with your ability to condense the story to meet our needs. It was also nice to have someone ‘outside’ write the story. The results seemed more objective than they would have been if I had written it.”  
Market It Write

Market It Write