My Blog Editor

Fortune 500 AP Stylebook edits – ExxonMobil

Here are my AP Stylebook edits* of a random blog post by Fortune 500 company No. 2 – ExxonMobil.

* I thought it would be fun to edit random stuff (for AP style, etc.) from Fortune 500 websites – not my clients’ sites, though. So this is the latest in a series of edits from the Forbes Fortune 500 list. (And yes, this is my kind of nerdy, wordy fun.)

Download (PDF, Unknown)

Share
0 comments

Fortune 500 AP Stylebook edits – Walmart

Here are AP Stylebook edits* of a random blog post and news release by Fortune 500 company No. 1 – Walmart.

* I thought it would be fun to edit random stuff (for AP style, etc.) from Fortune 500 websites – not my clients’ sites, though. So this is the latest in a series of edits from the Forbes Fortune 500 list. (And yes, this is my kind of nerdy, wordy fun.)

Download (PDF, Unknown)

Share
0 comments

Why I love editing content

Photo: book text for Why I love Editing Content blog post by Darcy De Leon, My Blog Editor

I love stories – in all forms (movies, books, news articles). And that’s why I love editing content for business owners like you – because everything you write for your business (your “About” page, blog posts, company newsletters and even photo captions) is a story.

Many of you tell your stories really well, and that makes sense because as business owners you have an area of expertise and you know your stuff. Sharing your passion and knowledge in writing might come easy to you. Still, you might have doubts about technical aspects of your business content – like knowing where to put a comma in a sentence or whether to put periods at the end of bullets. You also may have looked at your content a million times and may be afraid that you can no longer see any errors. It’s easy to miss mistakes, but don’t worry.

Step away from your words

That’s where proofreading and editing comes in. If you don’t have someone to do that for you, do it yourself. Step away from your copy for as long as you can after you have written it and go do something else. Come back later and proofread it. With rested and refreshed eyes, you or an editor can look at your copy, spot the errors and correct them instantly.

When editing I also look for inconsistencies in facts and company style and how things are worded. And I point out content gaps and anything that needs clarification. Your content should be the best it can be. Mistakes and lack of clarity get in the way of your clients understanding you, and that’s why I’m relentless when editing for a client.

My goal is to correct and polish your content to make it crystal clear, and, because I have a background as a writer, I strive to preserve your voice. Your voice is your brand, after all. Any good editor should be able to do the same thing.

Continue improving your story

What I’m trying to say is that it’s a beautiful thing when your words are so clear and flawless that it’s possible for your customers to really understand and enjoy what’s written. When someone who has read your story is then inspired to take action, whether that means hiring you or following your advice, you can be of service to others. And life is even better.

So cheers to you as you continue to tell your business stories and remember to always proofread!

If you would like my help as an editor, contact me or visit my FAQ page or Services and Pricing page for more information.

Share
0 comments

Even content editors make mistakes

Consolation for when you make an editing mistake
Even if you have a string of editors on your company payroll, mistakes happen. As editors, we’re sometimes reading text for hours, and our eyes get tired. We get distracted, and we can miss the obvious.

It’s normal, as an editor, to feel the stinging shame of missing an error after something has been published, but remember – we are all human. All we can do is acknowledge the mistake, learn from it, fix it (if it’s not too late) and move on.

How did I not see that?

Recently, I was privy to a scenario in which a misspelled word somehow made it into an internal, corporate newsletter (of the Fortune 500 variety). The misspelled item was “availabe,” which, of course, should have been spelled “available.” A writer and several editors and a proofreader didn’t catch the missing “l” in the word.

How did we all miss it? The word was even in all capital letters and in a headline. Well, who knows how we missed it. Even Microsoft Word’s automatic spell check feature missed it. (There was no telltale, red squiggly line underneath the misspelling.)

Keep calm and take breaks while editing

The point is, a mistake was made, and it gave us pause. What I learned from that situation was to remember to slow down while reading and to take frequent breaks while editing. It helps to edit an article, walk away from it then return and edit it again.

Sometimes, I don’t realize how tired my eyes are from looking at the computer screen all day. Editors are human too, I am reminded, and we need to take care of our bodies (especially our eyes) or we can’t do the excellent jobs we strive to do.

Related

Infographic: 10 steps for better content editing and proofreading

Share
0 comments

How to create a company writing style guide 

(Updated Feb. 5, 2016)

Does your company have style - a company writing style guide, that is?

If you’re an entrepreneur, you can dramatically improve your business content – make it more clear, concise, credible and consistent – by using a comprehensive writing style manual and creating and following a company-specific style guide, even if the latter is just a page long.

Step one in improving your content, then, is using a comprehensive writing style manual, like the Associated Press Stylebook. (Learn more here, if you’re not doing this already.)

Step two is developing and using a second writing style guide that is specific to your company.

Here are a few steps for making a company-specific style guide:

  1. Today: Open a word processing document (Microsoft Word, Google Document or other) and label it [something like “(Company name) Style Guide”]. Save the document.
  2. The next time you are writing or editing business content: Look at what you will be writing or editing for that day. (Just that day. Don’t worry about everything already published on your website. Start in the present and move forward a little at a time.)

    As you write or edit your usual business content, start a list in your company style guide document of any instances where a company-specific term or subject is not mentioned in the AP Stylebook (or whatever style manual you use as your main style manual).

    You also may, on occasion, decide to NOT follow AP (or other style manual) on a particular topic, and that needs to be documented in your company style guide.

    Examples of company style guide topics and when they’re needed:

      Company name – when the spelling is unconventional and it’s not listed in the “company name” entry of the AP Stylebook.

      Company taglines – because they don’t appear in the AP Stylebook.

      Names – when rules differ from the AP’s “names” entry. For instance: AP says use the first and last name of a person on first reference in a sentence and only the last name on second reference. Some business articles might use a person’s first name on second reference for a more approachable, casual tone in a particular publication.

      Industry-specific terminology – when AP doesn’t go into that kind of detail. One example would be a list of volume measurements for the oil and gas industry, such as “10 million barrels of oil per day” (first reference) and “10 MBD” (second reference).

  3. Every time you write or edit something: Add to your company style guide any formatting, spelling, punctuation or grammar rules that are not addressed in your comprehensive style manual. If you have a company newsletter, for example, you might specify formatting standards (Where to use bold, add spaces, skip lines, etc.)

    Continue adding to your style guide every time you edit a piece of content. This is a living document that will grow and change as you figure out what needs to be clarified. Your growing style guide is a building block for your company brand, so it will take time to develop.

  4. After you add something to your company style guide: Edit your new entry to make sure your rules are clear and that they include examples.

  5. When your style guide is near completion: Proofread your style guide. Have others edit and proofread it as well, if possible.

  6. If you have the time to fully edit your site: Look at your online business content that you published before you created your style guide and edit that content using your new company style guide. That will make all of your content consistent.

  7. Every few months or year: Update your company style guide. When you see that a company issue is not being addressed, add new entries to address it. Always add a revision date to your style guide.

Following writing style guides ensures that your content is more clear, concise, credible and consistent, making your content easier to read and understand. It tells potential customers they can trust you, and that elevates your company brand.

To learn more about style guides, check out these posts:

For more tips on improving your content quality, read the latest My Blog Editor blog posts as soon as they’re published. Sign up for My Blog Editor blog email alerts below.






Get writing and editing tips to 
improve the quality of 
your business content.

Subscribe to the
My Blog Editor blog!

We respect your email privacy

Share
0 comments

Every business needs a writing style manual and a company style guide

Improve your business content with The AP Stylebook 2015If you’re a small business owner and don’t use a style manual and company style guide as a foundation for your blog and website writing, start using one. Now. Once you do, you’ll greatly improve the quality of your content and, as a result, gain clarity, consistency and confidence.

Writers and editors in corporate communications departments of all industries use a style manual and, often, a company-specific style guide that sets the rules for technical issues like spelling, punctuation and grammar.

These two tools are just as essential for small business owners. They lay the foundation for good writing and make communications pieces clear and consistent. Clarity and consistency increase credibility. Credibility builds trust, and trust strengthens your company brand.

Style manuals

Two of the most popular style manuals used are the Associated Press Stylebook and The Chicago Manual of Style. The newspaper industry uses the AP Stylebook as its style bible, and that’s what I’ve used for the last 28 years as a writer and editor in different industries: newspaper, city government, health care, nonprofit, oil and gas and magazine.

The greatest personal benefit of using a style manual is that it gives you peace of mind. You’ll no longer wonder if you’ve put commas in the “right” place (the AP Stylebook says not to use a comma before a conjunction in a simple series, for example) or if you should capitalize your business title when it appears after your name (You shouldn’t, as per AP. “Tom Thomas, owner” would be correct. Tom Thomas, Owner” would not).

Other examples of AP style rules include using:

  • “Email” – not “e-mail.”
  • One space between sentences – not two.
  • “U.S.” in text copy and “US” in headlines.

When you use a style manual, you’ll know the rules or at least where to find them. There’ll be no doubt. You can rest assured.

So, buy a style manual today. The 2015 AP Stylebook was just released last week. You can buy an annual subscription here ($26 for the online version, which I use, or $32.45, with shipping, for the spiral-bound print edition).

Company-specific style guides

Step two of laying the foundation for excellent writing is creating a company-specific style guide. The company style guide is basically a list of style rules that pertain to your specific business – rules that would not be mentioned in a traditional style manual.

That could include industry-related terms or spellings. If you work in the oil and gas industry, for instance, you would want a reference page on how to write volumes of oil and gas: 10 million barrels of oil per day (first reference), 10 MBD (second reference). You would also want a list of all the different types of volumes – and there are many in the oil and gas industry.

Your style guide could also include a few very specific deviations from your style manual, but keep those to a bare minimum. You additionally might document blog post or newsletter formatting details (word count limits, rules for spacing between indented paragraphs, for example) and graphic standards (the rules, measurements and specifics related to logos, company publication colors and all things graphic design). 

To learn how to create a company style guide, you can read about it here

Who style guides help and why

A style manual and company style guide will help you as a small business owner, whether you are the one writing the copy or you have a team of guest writers. Your writers need a style manual and a company style guide so they have direction. Use of both tools will make all of your content consistent. It will also make editing content from different writers easier (hopefully) because their drafts will need less style-related edits. Remember that anyone who writes for your company is a steward of your brand and should, therefore, be required to follow a style manual and company style guide.

Share
0 comments

Proofread Everything: Signs at company events

(Updated April 25, 2016)

My Blog Editor blog post, Proofread Everything: Signs for Company Events

Nothing is too insignificant to proofread. That includes signs for company events.

Before a corporate gathering, in-house graphic designers may be tasked with creating and printing simple, professional-looking signs that name activities or amenities. An employee picnic, for example, might need signs like “ring toss,” “food” and “bathrooms.”

Mistakes in one- or two-word signs may seem unlikely, but they happen.

As a corporate proofreader, I’ve caught typos, misspellings, grammatical errors and a cringe-worthy faux pas or two. Hence, my professional mantra: proofread everything.

Examples of event sign mistakes:

  • Misspelling the company name.
  • Forgetting a possessive apostrophe
    (“Mikes Chili” instead of “Mike’s Chili”).
  • Using a plural form instead of singular
    (“Women’s Bathrooms” instead of “Women’s Bathroom”).
  • Using offensive or incorrect wording
    (“Indian Village” instead of “Native American Village”).

My Blog Editor blog post: Proofread-Everything: Signs for company events

It only takes a few minutes to proofread.

Before printing any signs, read them slowly and carefully. If you aren’t sure whether something is spelled or worded correctly, look it up in The Associated Press Stylebook or the dictionary recommended by AP (Webster’s New World College Dictionary). If you work within a big corporation, have all signs proofread through your company’s corporate communications department.

Whatever you do, make your company look good by proofreading your signs.

Related:

Proofread Everything: Work Schedules

Share
0 comments

Corporate communications executives: Follow your style guide(s)

Corporate communications executives need to follow their company style guide because it's a road map for consistent branding.

Why do corporate communications executives sometimes ignore their companies’ editorial style guides?

Why would they NOT use a company road map for consistent branding? It’s beyond me, but it happens. And it saddens me as a corporate content editor and proofreader that higher ups will let style mistakes live in their business copy.

Style guides exist to keep a company’s brand consistent. Without consistency, there’s no consumer trust. Without trust, consumers don’t consume, and businesses don’t last.

Make time for correct style

Style guides help execs and their companies look good. Don’t these execs want their companies to look good?

My guess is that the execs who ignore company style guides do not have style-guide-following backgrounds, like journalism, and they either don’t know how important following style guides are or that they kind of know but don’t want to admit how important style guides are because they are busy and trying to meet a deadline.

Make it a companywide mission

Executives, you need to focus on accuracy and consistency first. Make sure your corporate writers and editors are following your company style guides and let them do their jobs. When the copy is pushed up to your office for approval, check it against company style guides or make sure that your editors have done that.

Most of all, stop going against your company style guide. Follow the rules. Be consistent. You, even as an executive, are not too cool for your company style guide. Business communications pieces need to be consistent. And that’s why style guides were created.

Consistency is calming. It’s reassuring and builds confidence. It means you can count on someone or something – even a company. In this case, following your company style guide means your company, customers and employees can count on you.

Share
0 comments

AP Stylebook: Town hall meetings

(Updated 02/19/16)

AP style for town hall meetings

Like presidential candidates, corporate executives hold town hall meetings to talk about their issues.

But what’s the correct way to refer to the event, according to the Associated Press Stylebook?

AP’s online Ask the Editor section says “town hall” is:

  • Two words not one (“town hall” not “townhall”).
  • Lowercase, not capitalized unless “town hall” is part of a formal title (IBM Town Hall Meeting).
  • Not hyphenated before “meeting” (town hall meeting).
  • Correct as a noun (meaning a public forum: “The town hall is tonight.”) or as an adjective before a noun (as in “town hall meeting”).
Share
0 comments

Diagram a sentence for old time’s sake

There are moments in people’s lives when they get the first inkling of what they might want to do (as a career) when they grow up.

I didn’t realize it then, but one of my first career-awakening moments was in eighth grade at Our Lady of Sorrows School in McAllen, Texas (Go Cougars!). It was there in our cozy, air-conditioned portable building classroom that our teacher, Mrs. Marquis, revealed the mysterious and exciting exercise of diagramming sentences.

The Container Store for words

As I watched her at the chalkboard, all at once I began to understand what went into constructing sentences. I learned about parts of speech and their functions. This technique “organized” words and sentences for me and made everything make sense. Today, I would refer to sentence diagramming as The Container Store of sentence structure.

I see now that my excitement over sentence diagramming was a clue that I would years later pursue writing and eventually editing as a career. If you are a person who works with words (I guess we all do to some extent), likes words or is just curious about this old-school grammatical tool, take a look at this story and all of its helpful examples.

Grammatical technique reminds us to be clear 

If you ever get stumped by what’s going on in a sentence, whether you are writing or editing it, break it down into a diagram. And, yes, there’s an app for that (Windows, iPhone).

Clarity is the key to great writing and editing, and nothing clarifies sentences better than diagramming those sentences. Mrs. Marquis knew that, and I’m grateful she showed me how to do it.

Share
0 comments