Science for the Public and more…

Archive for July, 2017

Writing for PTP Book Division

Writers of any genre want to make a good first impression. However, if editors see typos or formatting issues as soon as they begin reading your submission, chances are they won’t read all the way to the end before rejecting it.

You’ve already spent a fair amount of time drafting and revising your work. The final step before you submit it should be to have a copy editor look at it. Of course, that costs money, unless you have a copy editor as a friend and he or she is willing to work for you for free. If it’s just not feasible for you to have someone copy edit your work for you, here are some tips to help you review your own writing before sending it to publisher. [As with any submission, be sure to check the publisher’s website for individual formatting preferences.]

  1. Eliminate double-spaces between sentences.

Inserting two spaces between sentences is a habit formed in the days when people used manual typewriters. With word processing programs, such as Microsoft Word, you only need one space following a period or other punctuation that ends a sentence. If you send an editor your story or article with two spaces between each sentence, that editor may make assumptions about you or your technological capabilities before they even read your first sentence.

2.  Ensure consistency of formatting.

If you are submitting prose, check to see that your font size and type are consistent throughout the manuscript. This is especially important if you have been cutting and pasting quotes from outside sources, such as websites or emails.

 

Next, go through your manuscript to ensure that your line spacing and methods of indenting (be sure to use Word’s automatic .5 space indent) paragraphs remain the same from beginning to end. Are you using headers and sub-headers? Make sure you format all headers the same way, and that sub-headers are formatted in a way that is visibly different from the way headers are formatted.

  1. Confirm the spelling of names.

Whether you are quoting another writer, using an epigraph, or writing a journalistic article, confirm that you are spelling a person’s name correctly. Google it, even. If it’s a foreign name, it may contain special characters or accent marks. Microsoft Word allows you to insert characters from just about any language, so there’s no excuse for referencing Gabriel García Márquez without using the accent marks in his name.

This advice also applies to the names of companies, towns, states, and countries. An editor will suspect the veracity of everything else in a journalistic article or nonfiction manuscript if you misspell the names of locations or businesses mentioned in your piece.

  1. Don’t guess at the spelling and accenting of foreign words and phrases.

Many foreign words and phrases have found their way into everyday English usage. When incorporated into poetry or prose, it is often the practice to italicize these words. The first time I saw “Walla!” used instead of “Voilà!” I could not believe the author had not even bothered to check the word’s spelling. Here, too, Microsoft Word’s “insert symbol” feature enables you to use just about any foreign accent or symbol you could possibly need. Our editors will know immediately if you are just being lazy.

 

How to Write Copy People Will Actually Read

You’ve found your way to this article, but you probably won’t read it start to finish.

You’ve read the stats. According to Copyblogger, 80% of people will read a headline, but only 20% read the body. 38% of people who click on a site will leave before engaging with the content at all. People will share copy, effectively vouching for its quality, when they’ve only read 25% of it.

Does this mean no one reads anymore? Has the Internet killed literacy? Not quite, but it has given birth to a generation of scanners. [Tweeters!] That is, people who scan articles and landing pages to get the “gist” or find a section they’re especially interested in.

Why Does Scanning Matter?

People don’t read the way they used to. Why? There are a few different reasons…

  1. Attention spans are shorter than ever. In 2000, the average attention span for a human was 12 seconds. Today? A recent study found that our attention span is a mere 8 seconds. To compare, a goldfish has a 9 second attention span.
  2. We’re busier than ever. The amount of time Americans spend at work, on average, is actually declining, but the convergence of work life and personal life leaves us with an “always on” mentality. As a result, we feel “busier than ever”. Far too busy to read an entire landing page or email or article.
  3. Content overload is real. 41% of people surveyed claim to feel overwhelmed by the many choices online. Instead, they turn to friends for content and product recommendations.

So, how do people read now?

“In today’s world people are suffering from content overload. People rarely read, they scan/skim through content and dive in areas they find interesting.”

If you want people to actually read, every line of copy should pass a cost-benefit test…

  • Cost – How much time will this take? How difficult will it be to read?
  • Benefit – What’s in it for me? What will I learn or gain from reading this?

Do the Old Copy Rules Still Apply?

So, do any of the old school copy rules still apply? Of course. This is an evolution of how copy is consumed, not how it is crafted.

Two core rules still apply: (1) you must secure interest and (2) you must do so as quickly as possible.

The bottomline is that people read copy they’re interested in. If your copy is compelling and intriguing, your visitors are going to read it.

Of course, securing that interest as quickly as possible is key. People make snap decisions, so if you don’t have them hooked in the first 8 seconds, you’ve likely already lost them.

However, they likely aren’t interested in all of your copy. Instead, they will scan your copy and read only the sections they’re interested in.

For example, let’s say you found Evergage because you’re interested in targeting certain visitors for personalization.

From: Shanelle Mullin

 

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