Do you love listening to music while you’re working? I sure do. Not only does it help keep me awake but it can help set the mood if I need a certain mindset.
Unfortunately, my favorite music can be distracting. Whether it’s Darius Rucker, Chris Stapleton, Mose Allison, or 70s disco tunes, it’s easy for me to concentrate more on the song lyrics than on my proofreading and copyediting projects. Being distracted when you bill by the hour doesn’t work and isn’t fair to clients. Luckily, there’s a simple solution.
All I had to do was create some awesome playlists—with instrumental music. Mine are on Pandora and Spotify. They’re perfect for those times when I need to focus, whether it’s for my clients or this blog post.
Don’t mistake instrumental for only classical tunes, although I do enjoy Chopin. There are so many lyric-less options! Here are a few of my favorites:
Want to know what else works for me? Sometimes I turn on sports or a news station that I’m not interested in. For me, it’s often sports on ESPN or hardcore economics on Bloomberg. The sound serves as the perfect background noise. Podcasts and foreign language stations also work well. As long as the voices are pleasant and neutrally-toned, it’s easy to stay engaged with my work without letting the content interfere.
Give some of these playlists a whirl. See if any work for you to pump up your productivity, minus those distracting lyrics! Enjoy!
Let Your Invitation Shine Just as Brightly as the Event Itself.
Planning an event is a lot of work. There are so many details to nail down, and you want to ensure your shindig is a hit with your customers, prospects, as well as your internal stakeholders.
I’ve stumbled across several event invitations recently that needed help in a certain area: you probably guessed it, proofreading!
On more than one occasion, I’ve encountered this content boo-boo:
“The event will have 17 dishes, 17 pairings and 3 cocktails from some of Atlanta’s best restaurants and bars. Get you tickets now before they’re all gone!”
Get you tickets now… Oops, the “r” is missing from “your.”
And you know what? This isn’t the first time I’ve seen this error on event invites. Get you tickets seems to be trending in the needs-proofreading department.
Mistakes like this can be difficult for some people to excuse because they’re so obvious. Let’s put this error to the test with three document editors:
When I typed this sentence in Microsoft Word and ran Spelling & Grammar Check (with the enhanced settings, of course, that I teach in my Proofreading Workshops), it did not catch this mistake. That’s right, Microsoft Word told me that Get you tickets now is totally fine. Big fail.
If the author of this email had used Grammarly, they would have caught the boo-boo. They would also see the handy explanation about the “possibly confused word.” I’m a big fan of Grammarly. It’s not perfect, but it’s usually better than Microsoft Word.
Unfortunately, Google Docs doesn’t excel at catching grammar mistakes, including misused words. I wasn’t surprised when Google Docs told me this sentence was correct after running Spelling Check. The two extensions I often use with Google Docs also overlooked this problem. Big fail on such a simple error. Weirdly enough, one of the extensions identified the problem (and offered the correct suggestion) ONLY when I also misspelled tickets.
Make Your Event Invitation Perfect!
Next time you’re planning an event, take the extra step to proofread your invitations and promotions. Whether you’re printing beautiful cardstock invitations or sending an email blast, double-check for perfect prose. Run spell check in Microsoft Word AND Grammarly—or hire a professional proofreader. Luminary Works is always ready to assist you with your proofreading needs. Also be sure to spell your company’s name correctly—unfortunately, I’ve seen that mistake, too!
Have you ever wished you had a superpower? Wouldn’t it be amazing if you could fly? Or be in two places at once? As an administrative professional, you need a collection of superpowers to excel. One of your superpowers needs to be proofreading.
As a professional proofreader and communications professional, I’ve seen numerous content errors—ranging from silly and commonplace to wildly embarrassing. In truly terrible cases, proofing errors can damage companies’ reputations or cost people their jobs.
Developing Your Proofreading Superpowers
For administrative professionals, there’s good news. At the IAAP CAPstone 2018 conference, I’ll teach you how to use advanced software settings for Microsoft Word and Microsoft Outlook to enhance your proofreading capabilities. If you’ve never explored each program’s settings and preferences, you are missing out! Customizing your software instead of sticking with the defaults—well, it makes all the difference.
You’ll also learn some amazing personal habits as well as software add-ons that will transform you into a Superhuman Proofreader. You’ll be able to use your newfound knowledge immediately.
Proofreading Tip #1
In fact, let's cover Proofreading Tip #1 right now. This personal habit will help you with your emails, and it’s easy to develop. Even better, it doesn't matter which email program you use—and it’s free. The next time you start to email someone, skip the To, CC, and BCC fields. That's right—leave them blank while you fill out the subject line and compose your message. This tip repeatedly saves the day because it's impossible to send an email that you haven’t addressed. Filling out the recipients last affords you plenty of time to run spell check or review once more before you click Send. This habit has helped me time and again, whether I had misspelled my client’s name or missed a simple but glaring typo.
Prep for Your CAP Certification (Domain 2, Outcomes 1–3)
This session will help administrative professionals prepare for the CAP Certification. We will be focusing on proofreading technologies for the modern professional. You can use what you learn in this session at any job or any employer, regardless of their style. Whether you’re working for a prestigious law firm or a local craft brewery or freelancing as a virtual admin, you’ll be able to use these tips like the rockstar administrative professional you are.
Supercharge Your Proofreading Skills
Don’t miss this great opportunity to expand your skills and make proofreading one of your superpowers! Register to attend IAAP’s CAPstone conference, March 5-7, 2018, in Atlanta, Georgia: iaap-capstone.org
It's 2018. Time to make those New Year's resolutions.
You could resolve to Power Up Your Proofreading Skills! Avoid those glaring typos before you hit "Send," click "Publish," etc. with a proofreading workshop with Luminary Works.
We have several workshops coming up. These are members-only for the Atlanta coworking spaces listed below. We're in the process of planning additional workshops that the general public can register for—stay tuned!
In September, Luminary Works celebrated its first year in business. Wow, has it been fun—and busy! It's been a pleasure writing so much interesting content and proofreading so many typos, grammatical mistakes, and more! The proofreading workshops have been so fun—and I can't wait for the next one coming up soon! There’s so much to be thankful for.
Every day in November, I’ll be posting one thing on Instagram (and maybe other channels) that I’m thankful for! I encourage you to do the same. Just use the hashtag #30Thanks!
In no specific order… Drumroll, please!
I’M THANKFUL FOR #1...
Xocolatl Small Batch Chocolate!
My favorites are the 73% Madagascar, 72% Nicaragua, 68% Wide Eyed, and 60% Kissed Mermaids. Fall in love with Xocolatl at Krog Street Market, Roam coworking cafes, Morningside Farmers Market, and more.
As spring approaches, now is the perfect time to review your digital marketing channels. Besides, National Grammar Day is March 4—even more motivation to make sure your site’s in tip-top shape! Get rid of the digital pollen.
In addition to Luminary Works’ previously-posted website checklist, here are seven more tips to help you enhance your online customer experience and correct common flubs.
Some tips may sound obvious, but they wouldn’t be here if they didn’t continually pop up on websites, emails, social media, and other marketing channels. Take a minute to check your digital channels—on desktop and on mobile!
1. Social media buttons. Check your website, ancillary sites, as well as your email signature. Ensure the links work. Do each icon and its link go together? For example, the Facebook icon should go to your company’s Facebook page, not to its Pinterest page or Facebook's homepage or to nowhere.
Also, don’t be sneaky with your social icons. Users are perturbed when social icons, especially in the header and footer, end up being shortcuts for sharing the company’s info via social media versus a link to the profile page.
2. Phone number. Can you hear me now? Check your site on mobile to ensure that your phone number is clickable, as in click-to-call. Most of the time, the phone number is automatically click-to-call regardless of any special website programming. However, phone numbers that include catchy words (such as 1-800-YOU-ROCK) are often not clickable. Consider providing the alternate, numerical version for your mobile users.
3. Address. Especially for retail stores and restaurants, provide a link to your physical location. Even better, provide information about where to park. Embedded maps are only partially useful. In a large city, it might give online visitors a sense of your area of town or a very zoomed in version of your street, but they rarely link to a map that provides real-time, customized directions. Save folks the extra steps—include a link to Google Maps. And, if you're still referencing MapQuest directions, please blast yourself into the digital future by using Google Maps.
4. FAQs. You would never write Frequently Asked Question’s. Likewise, don’t include an apostrophe in its acronym, FAQs. They’re not possessive, just plural.
5. Fewer or Less? People often misuse these similar terms. Here's a simple way to remember the difference in usage.
If you can count it—and count each item separately from the others, then fewer applies. Example: They had fewer investors in their startup than they would have preferred. The startup investors are distinguishable; each investor can be counted separately from another one.
If you can’t count it—or at least not as individual items, then less applies. Example: They had less money invested in their startup than they would have preferred. You can count dollar bills or quarters or even pennies but not money in the general sense.
A few more examples:
6. Decades. For your About Us page or your social #ThrowbackThursday posts, be sure to punctuate decades correctly. Usually, decades do not need an end apostrophe. However, if you leave off the first two years, then an apostrophe at the beginning is needed. Correct usage: Fashion in the 1980s. Music from the ‘70s.
Only if the decade is being used as an adjective will it include an end apostrophe. Correct usage: Some people miss ‘80s’ fashion! We love 1970s’ music. Note: These examples sound find when spoken, but they look better in writing when reworded to match the no-apostrophe examples above.
7. The Most Common Culprits. Look for the common blunders of its/it’s, whose/who’s, there/their/they’re, your/you’re. It’s common knowledge that Grammar Check usually flags these errors, which makes them even more difficult to excuse—especially when they’re on your homepage. Use the "Find" feature to double check each instance.
Use these tips and Luminary Works’ checklist from January to add some polish to your digital marketing channels for spring. Make your brand shine! Or, get a fresh set of eyes—Luminary Works can help with our Essential Website Review service or our custom workshops.
Article also posted on LinkedIn:
Image from PixaBay contributors: paulbr75. Thank you!
The Content Matters workshop focuses on software tricks and free add-ons to improve your proofreading capabilities. These easy-to-implement tips will help you catch and correct errors as you fine-tune the software you’re already using. This workshop includes tips for:
This workshop is ideal for Atlanta-area small business owners and entrepreneurs, as well as professionals in fields such as communications, marketing, sales, non-profits, administrative support, account management, project management, and more.
Learn more or purchase your ticket on Eventbrite.
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Show your customers and prospects you care with an awesome, error-free website!
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Image By Whitney [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Now that you’ve finished ringing in the new year, take a minute to review your company’s website. While some of these editorial changes occur with the advent of the new year, it’s also an excellent opportunity to update other evergreen areas that often get overlooked.
Consider these ten suggestions a basic Q1 checkup. While you’re at it—why not add a calendar reminder for each quarter, or at least once a year? Then you can rest assured that your site is always representing you at your best: up-to-date and error-free. Or, get help from Luminary Works with our budget-friendly Website Review service.
1. Copyright Year: If you list a year or range of years with your website’s copyright notice, update it for 2017. The same concept applies if you have digital templates (like email templates) that include copyright dates. Update those so that your future content includes the correct date or date range.
2. Years in Business: If your website boasts the fact that your business has been around for something like 13 years, over five years, or more than a decade, make sure the numerical reference is accurate.
3. About Pages: If your “About” section lists key employees, financial stats, locations, or other details, double check to ensure that the information is correct.
5. Meta Data: For your homepage and other key pages, take a look at the meta title and meta description. These appear in search engine results, so they need to be spot-on.
6. Images: Review your website’s images. Because you can’t do a “search and replace” to update them, they are often forgotten when it comes to annual updates. Also, double-check for typos, as these are often missed in images.
7. Social Media: Review your company’s description in each profile (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc.) to ensure that the information is correct. Also, check that the links from your website to each social profile function properly.
8. Other Sites: In addition to the typical social media sites, don’t forget to check other ancillary systems that display info about your business. Things like Google Maps, career sites, reservation systems, email newsletter systems, and any other system where you have a profile.
9. Tech-Savvy Words: Language evolves quickly, especially "tech words." Unfortunately, this evolution can make your site look dreadfully old-school if you're not changing with the times. Update spelling, hyphenation, and even capitalization of key words such as email (not e-mail), website (not web site or Website), blog (not weblog), and online (not on-line). Also consider other terms that are more subjective, including eCommerce and mCommerce (or e-commerce and m-commerce). Overall, strive for consistency.
10. Bonus Features: And don't forget about functionality. Links should work! Your site should load quickly. Make sure your site works seamlessly on a smartphone. And, bonus points if the pages on your site can be printed—yep, on real paper with a printer—with the important elements intact and with proper formatting.
Now, get back to having a wonderful and successful 2017!