Copy Editing - Your online tool review
Typos - aren't they shockers? Who occasionally makes these annoying errors? Well, you do for a start. And, as long as you promise to keep this between us, I'll confess - I've been known to commit the odd erratum too. Of course, we all do. Often our little mistakes have little or no consequence. On other occasions, the impact can be somewhat serious. Here's a salutary tale -
Oh dear Richard - should've gone to Copywriter Pro
One day, Max received a text from his next-door neighbour, Richard. It read -
Hi, Max. This is Richard, next door. I've been riddled with guilt for a few months and have been trying to get up the courage to tell you face-to-face. When you're not around, I've been sharing your wife, day and night, probably much more than you. I haven't been getting it at home recently. I know that's no excuse. The temptation was just too great. I can't live with the guilt & hope you'll accept my sincere apology and forgive me.
Please suggest a fee for usage and I'll pay you. Regards
Enraged, and feeling betrayed, Max grabbed his gun, went next door, and shot Richard dead. He returned home, shot his wife, poured himself a stiff drink and sat down on the sofa. He then looked at his phone and discovered a second text message from Richard.
Hi, Max. Richard here again. Sorry about the typo on my last text. I noticed that the darned Spell-Checker had changed "wi-fi" to "wife." Technology, huh? It'll be the death of us all.
If only poor Richard had used an editing tool. There are* an increasingly wide number to choose from.
Typos - a big deal?
Amongst friends and close colleagues, the odd mistake is no big deal - except in business. Business writing has to be professional. Whether or not you care about spelling or grammatical mistakes, there's every chance your potential client will. It's all about impressions. Just as personal appearance reflects on how we go about our business, so does the way we write. Mistakes can make the difference between long-term client relationships and someone not taking you seriously. Fortunately, help is at hand. There an increasing number of online editing tools available. I've taken a little time out to review them and here's my report -
Best known of the lot, Grammarly, does a thorough job. It checks spelling, punctuation, and grammar. With the 'paid' version, it also judges you on clarity, style and 'delivery'. But is it sometimes too thorough? I once looked up from my labours to find Grammarly, her hair in a tight bun, lips pursed, wagging her a gnarly finger in my face for writing, "One of our keys specialities is tax." She wanted to be to insert the article 'the' before 'tax'. So, although Grammarly can be over-zealous, at least you have the chance to shrug aside her pernickertyness (she defintiely didn't like that word) and go your own way.
A great plus for Grammarly is that you can refine the settings in several areas, such as engagement, variety and comma usage.
Grammarly doesn't only play the strict English teacher. She's also a loyal friend, by your side wherever you choose to wander. She's a plug-in who's with you whether you're using MS Word, a social media platform or editing your web copy.
If you're a regular writer, then the premium version of Grammarly is excellent value for money. It often runs a 40% discount for a premium subscription - affordable for most of us.
How inspired to name your editing tool after, arguably, the English Language's greatest literary craftsmen. Note to all would-be copywriters: before you even think of taking up copywriting as a profession, read Ernest Hemingway's The Old Man and The Sea. You know those business emails or documents that go on forever without ever getting to the point? (No - I don't include this article!) Well, The Hemingway app helps you to sharpen up your writing and focus on your main message.
You can either copy/paste text into the app or write directly in it. Hemingway highlights poorly structured sentences and identifies other problem areas, such as clumsy or convoluted clauses or adverbs that make your writing too much to digest. It's also quick to point out when the active voice would be preferable to your use of the passive.
With Hemingway, you also get those all-important readability stats., measuring how engaging your prose might or might not be.
This is an all-in-one place for professional writing. Novelists, screenwriters, even little old copywriters, love it. Scrivener helps with every aspect of writing - terrific for drafting long compositions, note-taking. It includes a content management system making it simple to organise and find all your documents.
What I like most is the Composition Mode. This full-screen mode shuts out everything but the text in front of you. If you're like me and are cursed with the concentration span of a grasshopper at a rave, then this tool is a must.
Write It Sideways
Do you do a lot of business writing? Have you noticed how easy it is to get into a repetitive rut? Do you find yourself always using the same phrases, constructions and styles? Then you'll love** Write It Sideways. It's a resource for all kinds of writing professionals.
Write It Sideways gives you everything you need to organise your writing and brainstorm ideas. It even helps you with your editing skills. Whether you’re a novice or a writing pro, you should sore this website in your 'favourites' folder.
In the recently re-branded Microsoft 365, there's a shiny new Editor feature - a vast improvement on the tired old 'spell-check'. As you'd expect from those clever people in Redmond, Washington State, this tool is fast, neat and gets better with every re-launch. But Editor still has a long way to go before it catches up with its more advanced and, better-educated rivals.
Clichés - avoid them like the plague. Actually, part of me feels sorry for them. They often start life as fresh as a daisy - delightfully original expressions, only to suffer from ill-thought overuse. (Read more about my take on clichés here.) Clichés do occasionally have their place. But overdo them, and the writing will soon be on the wall. The effectiveness of your communications will be as dead as a doornail. But - use Cliché Finder and it will be a case of all's well that ends well.
Using Cliché Finder is as easy as falling off a log. It works by detecting frequently-used expressions and invites you to think outside the box, encouraging you to use your own, original twist on the English language. Your writing will live to fight another day.***
And here's an appropriate fun cartoon to close with -
*Grammarly didn't like this. She wanted me to write 'is'. OK ... but I'm sticking with 'are'.
**She didn't like this either and wanted me to pop the word 'to' after 'love'. I don't think so Miss - back to school for you!
***How many cliches did you spot in this paragraph?
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Want to chat about your own copywriting issues. Give me a call - +44(0)7703 472207. It'll be great to talk.
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Till the next time ...