Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Weekly writing coach: 3 new utility infielders

You want the process of writing to be easier. You want to catch more mistakes, or make fewer in the first place. Here, three great gloves to put on that will make you a noted utility infielder on your communications team:

  1. Markdown:  Edelman's Steve Rubel calls Markdown "a skill every modern communicator should learn," so you have your marching orders. He notes that "anyone who wants to spread their ideas far and wide--and that's pretty much every modern communicator--will focus first on digital means to do so. Markdown, to me, is becoming an essential lingua franca that makes writing and preparing digital-ready copy a snap."
  2. Checklist for reporting:  I have lots of clients seeking ways to help their writers do better interviews, and these solutions are offered with them in mind. Steve Buttry of has come up with his own version of an accuracy checklist for journalists (and one any writer can use). It's based on this list by Craig Silverman, author of Regret the Error: How Media Mistakes Pollute the Press and Imperil Free Speech.We featured Silverman talking about corrections as a means of increasing your transparency, with the smart idea to issue an RSS feed for your corrections. But his list and Buttry's list make it possible to avoid them in the first place.
  3. Checklist. Craig Silverman. Regret the error
  4. Homonym help:  I've written about homonyms, the pesky words that sound the same as others with entirely different meanings, and how they can trip up writers.  Now comes an idea that may help: Using Google Voice Search as a voice-operated dictionary.  All you need to do is speak "define [word]" to get results.
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