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Incorporating the copy-editing function in your company

All companies (and non-profit organizations) should ensure that the copy-editing function is a part of their structure and processes. This can be achieved by providing one or more people who work for the company with reputable training; alternatively, freelancers can be used on an ad hoc basis. The goal should be that all the company’s documentation and other written communications, including their marketing messages, are edited by an expert in the areas of language and style before they are distributed or published.

 

We all know that contrary to the idiom that we should not judge a book by its cover, most of us do so. In other words, image counts; first impressions count. The reason for this is that where audiences, or readers, notice errors, they will subconsciously associate these with the person or organization thought to be behind the document or publication (including websites). So, in the reader’s mind, the poor quality of the text signals that the company will deliver low-quality products or services.

 

To perform the copy-editing function, one needs training in copy-editing, for copy-editing involves more than just ensuring that documents and publications are error free. Proficiency in grammar and spelling are just two aspects of the copy-editing function. Other aspects involved are style (applicable to both language and design), including using style manuals, style guides and style sheets; work study, or the processes involved in copy-editing; marking up texts; communications, for example with other team members and participants (including graphic designers).

 

Becoming an effective copy-editor presupposes an understanding of what constitutes good writing. Economy, diction, composition, these are all aspects of good writing. To ensure that the documents and publications produced by a company meet these standards, they must be understood and embraced.

 

Beyond copy-editing documents and publications, training in copy-editing equips one to become part of, or to oversee a company’s document and publication management function or department. When the copy-editing function is incorporated in a company’s structure and processes, the effects are observable, and the impression given is one of brand consistency, which translates into reliability, and hence, trustworthiness.

 

If you are a one-person company, doing a copy-editing course may enable you to perform the copy-editing function in your company; alternatively, selecting a suitable employee to train as a copy-editor could be another way of incorporating the copy-editing function. Some larger companies – including publishing houses – employ one or more copy-editors full-time, with additional capacity met through a panel of freelance copy-editors.

 

The Electronic Copy-editing and Proofreading Course, offered by WriteArt, provides the knowledge and tools, described above, to enable the copy-editing function to become an integral part of your company’s makeup. It also enables freelancers to offer copy-editing, rewriting, document management, and other services to companies who wish to outsource their copy-editing and document management functions.

 

Training in copy-editing could also enable you to pursue careers in teaching English as a second language and writing. If you are a freelance translator, indexer or designer, training in copy-editing could add to your suite of services offered.

 

To register for the Electronic Copy-editing and Proofreading course, visit the WriteArt Shop web page.

Good writing increases opportunities

The ability to write well will empower you to succeed in all areas of your life.

 

It does this because our writing projects necessitate research. In turn, research entails reading, and reading often entails language-related research, including using one or more of dictionaries, thesauruses, and language reference works, such as grammar and style dictionaries and guides.

 

Our writing projects involve developing other skills too. One of these is planning our writing projects – or project management – even if we usually do this informally and unconsciously. Think, for example, of deciding how we will generate ideas, how we will research these, how we will store the information that we gather,  how we will develop our text from our research notes, how we will refine our writing, and finally the process that we will follow to edit our text.

 

Yet the list of skills we will acquire in the process of learning to write and practice writing does not end there. There are other skills too that are involved in learning to write. When we use language reference works, we develop knowledge of syntax and punctuation, and when we learn to structure our sentences and paragraphs, to choose our words, we are learning how to structure our thinking. We are learning how to reason and argue. This involves developing an understanding of logic and an ability to use logic to achieve the outcomes we desire.

 

Hence, writing underpins all areas of higher learning and functioning, enabling us to operate in increasingly complex arenas of endeavour. Furthermore, the skills we learn in the process of writing, especially writing for career and professional purposes, include an improved vocabulary and pronunciation, which we naturally apply to our verbal communications, as well as to our reading of increasingly complex documents.

 

These capacities are noticeable to both our colleagues and those in management roles, positioning us for promotion and advancement in life. Ultimately, this is reflected in our earnings and our lifestyle, indeed, in our wellbeing.

 

The writing and associated skills described above – and the benefits linked to them – can be yours when you take the Writing for Career and Business Purposes course, now offered online by WriteArt. To register for this course, please visit the WriteArt shop webpage, and take your next big step towards changing the course of your life and increasing your opportunities.

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The role of writing in higher education

Nelson Mandela said, ‘Education is the most powerful tool you can use to change the world’. He was talking from personal experience: he first used this tool to change his world, and this enabled him to change the world outside of himself.


Many young adults emerge from school with basic language skills, particularly those of reading and writing. They will have used these mostly to gain further subject-specific knowledge during their primary and secondary schooling. Yet tertiary education requires more advanced, self-reflective reading, writing and thinking skills.


Of these three skills, the advanced, self-reflective writing skill drives learning the other two. To illustrate this, not far into students’ first tertiary courses, they will be required to complete written assignments – usually essays – on the material covered up to that point. To do so, they will need to read the material; they may need to do research to complement their readings; and they will need to organize their thoughts. All of this will be driven by the requirement to write on their topic.


Hence, in learning to understand how topic sentences work in writing expository texts, one learns how to identify these while reading and thinking about others’ texts and to apply them in structuring one’s own texts. Another aspect of the self-reflective, advanced writing skill is understanding the creative process and writing with this understanding. In a broader sense, the creative process is synonymous with the learning process.


If students have not been taught these advanced, self-reflective skills prior to embarking on their tertiary studies, they would do well to take responsibility for acquiring them, starting with learning about the creative process, the writing process, and language structuring terms and conventions. A very cost-effective way to do this would be to purchase The Natural Creative Process in Writing: A Core Writing and Editing Handbook for Everyone.


With their newly acquired self-reflective, advanced writing skill, students could progress to gaining more skill in the areas of reading and thinking.


With all three advanced foundational skills in place, success in the academic and working careers of everyone – no matter their age and stage – will be that much closer. They will be, as Nelson Mandela was, positioned to change their own lives and to influence the world as he did.


By Russell de la Porte
web: www.writeart.com
email: russell@writeart.com

A companion on your writing journeys

In my blog of 7 July 2013, I wrote about the importance of the written aspect of your personal and professional brands. In that blog, I spoke of the role of good writing but also the role of effective copy-editing in representing yourself and your business in the best way possible. But how do you acquire these skills without investing in courses in, or specialized books on writing and applied linguistics, specifically text linguistics, or employing a specialist in these fields?


Then, in my blog of 8 January 2014, I dealt with consistency as one of the mechanisms for enhancing your personal and professional brands, as conveyed in your written communications. I dealt with style manuals, style guides and style sheets as means to achieving consistency. But where do you learn about these, without attending a copy-editing course or buying a copy-editing reference work?


Language variety, as one aspect of style, was dealt with in my next blog of 25 February 2014. Selecting a language variety for your written communications implies being able to identify your target readers (or audience); this is only one element of the writing context that you will need to consider. But where do you find a straightforward guide to these elements?


Finally, in my blog of 31 March 2014, I wrote about how to get your writing – and other projects – started and finished. This involves understanding how the writing process works. But where do you go to learn this in a straightforward way?


There is one handbook that succinctly answers all of these questions. Its title is The Natural Creative Process in Writing: A Core Writing and Editing Handbook for Everyone (paperback – ISBN 978-0-620-60121-4; ebook – ISBN 978-0-620-60121-4). I wrote this book because since my early twenties, I have looked for a clear, accessible guide to the writing process (a form of the natural creative process), good writing, and effective editing. It is the book I have always wanted to own, to carry with me on all my writing journeys.


The Natural Creative Process in Writing: A Core Writing and Editing Handbook for Everyone is available through most bookstores. For further information, email info@writeart.com.


By Russell de la Porte
web: www.writeart.com
email: russell@writeart.com

Writing to create


Everyone who can write, writes; therefore, everyone who can write is a writer (here writing incorporates typing and text-inputting using a keyboard or other text-inputting methods). We all have written for various reasons, including for planning (grocery lists, daily task lists), discovery (journal writing, noting ideas relating to a project), recording (note-taking during lectures, taking minutes of meetings), communicating (letters of complaint, letters of congratulations), and verbal-art making (poems, short stories, flash fiction, novellas, novels, plays).


Everyone also creates. When we create, we participate in a creative process – a natural creative process – and understanding how this process unfolds will allow us to become more effective in all areas of our lives. Furthermore, understanding the creative process as it applies to writing will enable us to use this tool for creating and living the lives we want.


When we have this knowledge, we have powerful tools for living a productive, effective and fulfilled life. If we acquire and start applying this knowledge at high, or secondary school, we will be positioned to leverage it at college or university – our tertiary education – to the satisfaction of our professors, supervisors and other educators. And of course, this satisfaction will reflect back on us, ensuring our success in our studies. We will be able to continue using this knowledge throughout our lives, bringing us meaning, success and, consequently, wellbeing.


This knowledge about the creative process and how it applies to writing is the result of the author’s long career as a writer, editor and teacher. Over the last four years, the author has developed and piloted the ‘The Natural Creative Process in Writing and Life’ course.


This course will be presented on 9, 10 and 16 April 2014 at Alive Café and Creative Experience Hub, in Muizenberg, Western Cape, South Africa. To book your place on this course, email Russell/WriteArt using the links below.


The ‘Natural Creative Process in Writing and Life’ course is also offered online for those not able to attend the venue-based course.


For venue-based and online course information and bookings, email info@writeart.com.
 


By Russell de la Porte
web:
www.writeart.com
email: russell@writeart.com

English variety – an aspect of style


Following the theme of my last blog (also a theme in my first blog), here I deal with another aspect of style, namely, language variety. The term language variety covers aspects such as dialect, accent, spelling and punctuation, among others. While there are many varieties of English, such as,
Canadian English, Australian English and South African English, to name a few, British English and American English are the most-used varieties. At the end of this blog, I compare American English (AmE), British (BrE) English and South African English (SAE). In doing so, I focus on the main aspects of variety that apply to writing, rather than those that apply to speaking.

 


An important aspect of writing is considering your audience and the medium of delivery of your message, or text. This, in turn, will determine the language variety that you select. So, for example, if you are an academic based in the United States of America, writing an academic article that you hope to have published in a US-based academic journal, you will select US, or American, English as your language variety, assuming that the style guide of your target publication specifies this variety of English.

 


When you send your article to a copy-editor for editing, it would be useful for you to supply the style guide of your target publication, or to specify the language variety selected for your text.

In many respects South African English is similar to British English, but in others it resembles American English, for example, the -ize endings typical of American English (see ‘Spelling’, below). Because of this and their wide reading of American books, South African copy-editors are well positioned to edit texts in both British and American English. Furthermore, English is the native language of many South Africans.


These factors make South African editors an appealing option when choosing an editor for your text.

An added appeal of using a South African editor is the current favourable exchange rate for many countries. At the time of publication, the rand (ZAR) to dollar (USD) exchange rate is 10.7999:1; for the pound (GBP), it is 18.0070:1; and for the euro (EUR), it is 14.8457:1.  

 


With these factors in mind, it would be worthwhile for you to consider using a South African copy-editor for the next piece you write. 


Comparison of AmE, BrE and SAE
Here, I compare American English, British English and South African English under the headings ‘Spelling’, ‘Punctuation: quotation marks’ and ‘Diction’.

Spelling
Property
American English (AmE)
British English (BrE)
South African English (SAE)
Ending: -ize/-ise
organize
predominantly organise, but also organize
predominantly organize, but also organise
Ending: -ence/-ense
offense
offence
offence
Ending: -ize/-yse
paralyze
paralyse
paralyse
Ending: -ogue/-og
predominantly catalog, but also catalogue
catalogue
catalogue
Ending: -our
labor
labour
labour
Ending: -re
liter
litre
litre
Ending: vowel plus -l
traveler
traveller
traveller


Spelling: double vowels

maneuver
manoeuvre
manoeuvre

Punctuation: quotation marks
The most important difference among the three varieties discussed in terms of punctuation relates to the type of quotation marks used and the positioning of commas relative to the closing quotation mark.
In British and South African English, single quotation marks are used for quotes and titles of unpublished works, chapters of books, lectures, radio and television programmes, short musical works, short poems, short stories and songs. In American English, double quotation marks are used for these.
In British and South African English, single quotation marks are used for quotes, with double quotation marks used for quotes within quotes; in American English the reverse applies.
Concerning commas that form part of the punctuation of a passage – not of the quoted words – in British and South African English, these are placed outside of the closing quotation mark; in American English, these are placed within the closing quotation mark. 

Diction
The relative pronoun which is predominantly used in British English for both defining (or restrictive) and non-defining (or non-restrictive) relative clauses. In American English, the relative pronoun that is used for defining (or restrictive) relative clauses, and which is used for non-defining (or non-restrictive) relative clauses. South African English alternates between these two styles.


By Russell de la Porte
web:
www.writeart.com
email: russell@writeart.com

What is a style guide, and why have one?


In my last blog, I touched on the role of consistency and continuity in signalling a brand’s reliability. This, in turn, builds trust. In a fast-paced world, we tend to turn to brands that are reliable and that we can therefore trust. When organizations repeatedly deliver on their promises, this relationship is cemented.


For organizations, what is the means to establishing and maintaining this consistency and continuity in their written messages? It is the organizational style guide that sets out the various aspects of style – font type and size, language variety (British vs American spelling), and capitalization, to name but a few – for the organization. The style guide can have various names, depending on the environment. In a corporation, it could be called the corporate style guide; for a university department, it may be called the departmental style guide; for a magazine, it is often called the magazine style guide, or sometimes, the publication style guide.


A style guide may be derived from one or more style manuals. Style sheets are used to record new styles that have been required and applied. Thus, style guides are at a hierarchical level between style manuals and style sheets.


Organizational style guides are usually stored centrally, where they can be accessed by the staff who require them. Certain people are usually tasked with overseeing and updating the guide. Their responsibilities include implementing new styles and changes suggested by stakeholders, recorded in style sheets.


Training in copy-editing equips the style guide administrators with the with the necessary skills. WriteArt’s Core Copy-editing Course (with Emphasis on Electronic Document Editing) deals with style extensively and would be a good course for anyone implementing and administering an organizational style guide to take – see WriteArt’s Courses web page for information on this course and the News & Notices page for the next course dates.


Because the work of professional copy-editors involves using style manuals, style guides and style sheets on an ongoing basis, they are well suited to setting up an organization’s style guide, and to consulting on the processes – and with the staff – necessary to maintain it.


If you feel that your company could benefit from developing a style guide, or from having an existing style guide updated, perhaps together with implementing the necessary support structures and processes, contact Russell at WriteArt for more information. WriteArt, a company with years of experience in the copy-editing field, is ideally positioned to offer all of these services.


By Russell de la Porte
web: http://writeart.com.www27.flk1.host-h.net/
email: russell@writeart.com

Electronic Copy-editing & Proofreading course

I have just completed the WriteArt copy-editing and proofreading online course. I found setting up the course and access to the necessary information easy and the instructions clear. The content of the course was comprehensive, helpful and informative. The prescribed text book 'The Natural Creative Process in Writing' was not only useful for the course but also for my own writing. Russell was friendly, helpful and instructive in the feedback sessions. I would definitely recommend this course for someone interested in going into copy-editing.

Dr Glynis Parker
Course Graduate – 20 December 2016

Electronic Copy-editing & Proofreading Course

I found this course very helpful, particular in terms of thinking about the process of writing and copy-editing. It’s made me more aware of how I proofread texts and what kind of steps I take to ensure my job is done properly. It’s also prompted me to think about the writing process differently, something that has made writing feel more approachable for me. Russell was incredibly helpful and understanding which made the process easier and far less stressful than it could have been.

Justine Kerford
Course Graduate – 3 May 2017
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