Issue 63, 2 July 2002
Editor: Jean Hollis Weber
In this issue...
E-prime: English without the verb "to be"
Tools for copy editors
Merriam-Webster toolbar for Internet Explorer on Windows
Procedures and instructions (again)
Photoshop information source
What does your website look like in a text-only browser?
Looking for tips on using Microsoft Word?
My books: Taming Microsoft Word 2000 and others
Hypnotic writing for fun and profit
More sales, less work with AWeber
Double your sales and profits with Adminder
What if the word "is" didn't exist? What if you could not use any "to be" verbs, such as is, was, am, were, be, been, being, and so on?
Some of the benefits:
- Lively, concise writing and speaking
- Clearer, more critical thinking
- Better communication, evaluation, and decision making
Find out more from this website:
I've not tried to completely purge these words from my writing, but I do try to limit them -- especially "there is" and similar forms. I have definitely found that avoiding the use of "to be" forces me to think about what I'm writing. Try it!
Editorium Update mentions this useful site: http://www.titivillus-editorial.com/. Titivillus tools for copy editors and those who employ them, operated by Timothy DeVinney of Titivillus Editorial Services.
The site has many helpful resources, including:
- A business plan for a freelance copy editor
- A checklist for copyediting agreements
- Style checklists
Editorium Update is published by the Editorium, which provides Microsoft Word macros and other resources for publishing professionals. You can read past issues of the newsletter at http://editorium.com/EUindex.htm or subscribe by sending a blank email message to email@example.com
Merriam-Webster now has a free toolbar, available from http://www.m-w.com/tools/toolbar/. It works only with the Windows operating system and Internet Explorer version 5.0 or higher. It does not work on a Macintosh or with Netscape or the AOL browser.
Once installed, the toolbar becomes part of your Internet Explorer browser, so you can instantly (if you're online, that is) look up words in MW's CollegiateŠ Dictionary or Thesaurus.
Ken Robinson KRobinson@80-20.com
writes, in response to an item in the last newsletter,
I thought a quick comment re Steve's idea of a "procedure" might be worthwhile, especially since I've been in tech writing, process engineering and related fields since the old typewriter days!
In my experience, what Steve is defining is a "process" not a procedure. Let me explain.
A process defines the "who, what, where and when" of an activity, and may be at an overview level and contain sub-processes. A "purchase goods and services" process, for example, may contain sub-processes like "select supplier", "order goods", "order services", "manage supplier"; while a "receive goods" sub-process may belong to a "manage inventory" higher level process. Such process inter-relationships are often presented and analysed graphically by process engineers using a process called "process mapping".
A procedure, on the other hand, sets out "how" a single process activity is to be performed.
A procedure may simply be a set of steps to follow (1. do this, 2. do that, etc.) to achieve the objective, as is often seen in a software Help file topic...
In a more formal environment, a "procedure document" may be required to completely define the procedure to be performed (and this is where, I think, Steve's subheads come into the picture).
The "instructions" in a formal "procedure" are simply the steps to be performed (plus I don't like to see a heading called "Procedure" in a document of the same name -- it's confusing).
As a general rule of thumb (from process engineering), if more than one person is involved in an activity, or the activity crosses an interface between two processes, then you have probably written a process (which can be broken down into distinct procedures).
Instruction vs. procedure? In my book, a set of steps is a procedure until you're told to do it -- then it becomes an instruction ;-) It's probably just semantics.
Another reader wrote,
I think this distinction is right up there with counting those dancing angels, and I don't know if it serves to advance the profession. While I agree that when describing a task a writer should provide all the information that Steve suggests, I don't know if calling the end result "procedures" or "instructions" tells me anything more about what I've got.
This sounds like another good case of "make sure both you and your client agree on what you're talking about, because the terms you use may mean something different to each of you".
And while we're on the subject, here are two relevant books that were recommended on the TECHWR-L list: "Writing Effective Policies and Procedures: a Step-by-Step Resource for Clear Communication" by Nancy J. Campbell, 1998, AMACOM, ISBN 081447960X
"Procedure Writing: Principles and Practices, 2nd ed." by Wieringa, Moore, and Barnes, 1998, Battelle Press [Amazon lists only the 1st edition, 1993]
A recent issue of the free newsletter ResearchBuzz, from Tara Calashain, mentions Photoshop Roadmap, http://www.photoshoproadmap.com/. The site contains more than 500 Photoshop tutorials, information on add-ons (plug-ins, brushes, etc.), and more.
To subscribe to ResearchBuzz or read past issues, go to http://www.researchbuzz.com/
Yes, some people use text-only Web browsers such as Lynx. If you want to be sure they can read your Web site, you can use the "Lynx View" service to test your pages:
(You can also download a copy of Lynx and set it up on your own computer, but when I tried that I found the setup to be more hassle than I was willing to cope with.)
Of course all graphics and layout are lost when visitors view a page in Lynx; but on a text-intensive site such as mine, they can still access the information.
I've used a cascading style sheet (CSS) to display the text version of the page in a logical order for text, while the graphic version displays in a two-column format. This means I don't need to maintain two versions of the page.
If you're not sure why I (or you) should bother about text browsers, or you want some arguments to use with clients or managers, here is a summary of my views on the subject: http://www.jeanweber.com/news/tenews43.htm#any
I also recommend visiting the Any Browser Campaign's website: http://www.anybrowser.org/campaign/
Need an older version of a graphical web browser for testing purposes? The Evolt.org Browser Archive has just about any browser/version you could want. http://browsers.evolt.org/
Now and then I put in this newsletter some tips on using Microsoft Word, but that's not the newsletter's main purpose. Besides, I know of at least four excellent sources of tips for Word, and I'm not going to try to compete with them. If you're a Word user and you're not already subscribed to these (free) newsletters, I recommend you join them immediately.
The above sources are mainly, if not exclusively, about Word for Windows. If anyone knows of a Mac-specific list (or a list with a lot of hints for users of Word on the Mac), do let me know so I can add it to my resource list.
Joe Vitale and Larry Dotson's ebook, Hypnotic Writer's Swipe File, can help you write ad copy that sells! Here's an extract from the book: http://www.jeanweber.com/business/hypnotic.htm
Automated e-mail follow-up from AWeber. Includes an email list, autoresponders, ad tracking, and real-time statistics. I use this system to send out copies of this newsletter. Click here to find out more.
Do you do any type of advertising or promoting online? Whether you're promoting your own products or services, or someone else's, click here to discover how you can double your sales and profits within one month!
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