Blog: Content writing and content strategy insights

Grammar: If I were the only editor in the world

Rachel answers an age-old grammar question about was and were. Old grammar rules stick in our minds like chewing gum in the hair. The rule you remember is no longer a rule (perhaps it never was) but a choice. Rachel tends to use ‘were’ out of habit, but 'was' is now more than acceptable—it’s the norm.

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Don’t talk about plain language at work

Not plain language.The phrase
plain language (or plain English) is not plain language. The meaning of this phrase is masked and mysterious, known only to editors, content strategists, technical writers and other specialists.

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Business writing courses: how can you trust them?

I'm horrified at the antiquated business writing guides and manuals that are still being used today. How could students possibly take seriously an online text that looks like that? Yet Google delivered this Brief Guide to Business Writing as result #7 when I searched for a business writing guide. I wish that I could say this is unusual. But buried on many a university's web sites are such documents, presumably still in use

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"Write" (no) "Me" (no) "a Web Page" (no): all business writing is content

Business writing has changed into something unrecognisable: content. The ironic book title Write me a web page, Elsie! reflects a 20th century viewpoint and a world that has gone forever.

The manager who says, Write me a web page, Elsie! has no concept of the nature of the internet. As content strategy, Write me a web page is disastrous. It generates ROT, it undermines information architecture, it ignores accessibility, it stomps on customer service.

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Spamming your own staff

Jane McConnell comments (March 06, 2008) on a deeply embarrassing feature of corporate communications. Lately she has been hearing about a rise in unwanted internal emails. Anecdotal, but JMC is an astute trend-spotter. She says:

'a few months ago, it was an IT person who told me that the number of "deleted without being read emails" from corporate communications to employees was in the high 80-90%. A figure like this should make people stop and think about what their "all" email policies are.'


Don't put the Web in a glasshouse

Mark Ottaway, Managing Director, Nielsen//NetRatings, New Zealand, hammered this point during his presentation on Internet metrics and trends at the TUANZ Business Internet Conference (21 November 2006).

In fact he said it three times. I wonder why? Could it be something people cannot and will not hear?

'Don't put the Web in a glasshouse. The Web is not special. It's not new: it has been around since 1989. Don't hand web sites over to the IT department and wash your hands of them. Web sites are an important, integral, normal part of business.'

That's what we have been saying about web content for quite some time...

'Don't put web content in a glasshouse.'

Business writing is web writing. Business writing is web writing. Did you hear that? I'd better say it again. Business writing is web writing. Your business depends on your ability to communicate online.