My thoughts on writing tips found online and in published works (with some random thoughts thrown into the mix).

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Effective On-Screen Text

Tips from Proofreading: Plain and Simple by Debra Hart May, with my own commentary
  • "Includes both upper- and lower-case letters."
    • For any type of on-screen text (email, eBook, blog, Word documents, etc.), it is important to maintain the rules of proper writing. Thanks to texting and other mediums, it has become popular to write LiKe tHiS or LIKE THIS. This is not appropriate for a professional document. If you want people to take you seriously and appreciate your authority, you must follow the proper way to capitalize in the English language.
  • "Includes plenty of white space."
    • This makes your document easier to read. Just as it is hard to read a tightly-spaced document on paper, it is difficult to read a tightly-spaced document on screen. If you factor in glare and other distractions, it makes it even more important to allow some space.
  • "Gets right to the point right up front."
    • Many readers online tend to skim the text for the information they need. Very seldom will a reader take the time to read an entire, lengthy email. Instead of wasting your time writing a novel-length memo on the team's new project, condense the important information to a paragraph. Keep your correspondence short and sweet and everyone will appreciate it.
  • "Contains a concise, but specific subject line."
    • Let the reader know what they are clicking on before they even open the document. This gives them a preview of the information you are about to give them, which allows them to get in the right mindset to absorb your writing. Also, it will allow the reader to find your document if they need to refer to it later without a lot of searching.
  • "Is directed at a small, relevant distribution."
    • As with any other writing, know your audience. The more specific you can make the work to their needs, the better it will turn out. Use jargon and language that they are familiar with and they will most likely respect your authority on the subject. Address their needs.
  • "Contains clear, strong, and concise language."
    • You don't want to confuse the reader, because with one click they can be gone. You also don't want to bore them, appear weak or unsure, or drag it out. Use strong verbs and plunge right in to the heart of your story. Keep your writing short and use the active voice.
  • "Contains no errors, ideally; no important errors, definitely."
    • Spell-checkers and grammar-checkers are a nice tool, but they can never replace proofreading and editing your own work. If need be, ask a fellow writer or friend to look over your piece before you send it out. Keep a dictionary, thesaurus, and encyclopedia handy, along with tips about proofreading from books or a blog (such as this one!).

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