So why do businesses need an editor anyway?

Why?

Editors don’t just work on books and magazines…oh no…anything that can be read needs an editor or a proofreader. Yes, even businesses benefit from that extra set of eyes. Your business publications, website, business flyers and advertising materials attract people to you and your services. Don’t you want to make the best impression possible?

I know it can all be very mysterious…and yes, there are different types of editor, but basically we read through your stuff to make sure it looks and reads right.

An editor, amongst other things, ensures that:

  • BookYour publications are set out the way you want them – keeping things consistent and in the style that you like, one that will speak to your audience in the language of your company. Yes, I can be very chatty and informal, and that’s the way I like it…but if you’re a lawyer or a plumber you will want a different voice.
  • Your information is correct and consistent – for example, you don’t want to have one piece of contact information on one page of your brochure, then a completely different one on another page. Or, heaven forbid, forget to actually put contact details on your publications!
  • Your material reads well and says what you want it to say. Not everyone is a Word Wizard after all.

          and…

  • Your publications aren’t littered with embarrassing typos.

Whoops!

Ooooh yes, typos. We’ve all seen them, those cringingly bad typos that don’t just involve misplaced apostrophes, but are enough to make you suck the air through your teeth and grimace (just me then?).  The recent one I saw on Twitter, for example, springs to mind…Tesco offering money off deserts – don’t think even with money off I could afford more land at the moment.

If you type in “advertising typos” on Google (or your favourite generic search engine), you’ll find enough websites to keep you happy for hours…unless of course one of your business’s typos appears there! Can you imagine? How embarrassing! Yes, I know the old adage there’s no such thing as bad publicity, but …yes…there is.

For a bit of light relief (I know…the thought of your business and typos can bring you out in a cold sweat) here are a few instances of bad typos courtesy of the Guardian.

Mind you, it’s great publicity for the author of the new book…now why didn’t I think of that? Well done Mr Moir!

ScreamBut it’s not all huge, scream at you from the page, typos that get you going viral on Facebook, or appearing in a book on typos, that can cause grief…there are the little ones that can still cost you to put right. A spell checker won’t pick up those words that are actually words, but shouldn’t be there in your copy. Your “Fact Checker” can become a “Fat Checker” and slide past without being noticed, but an editor or proofreader will spot it.  And you Public services can become…well… let’s leave that one right there.

Street names are a good example of something that is all too easily messed up…there are quite a few instances I’ve noticed locally where the name “Princes St” is spelt “Princess St” and not just on printed leaflets…but on those adverts that rotate on the TV in the Post Office. A typo showing up every five minutes for all to see. Yes, the business will still get custom, and locals know there is no Princess St, but not everyone is local and …well…it’s just embarrassing isn’t it?

While writing up this piece I came across a good blog by the Grammar Girl on funny typos…well worth a visit for a giggle.

Lorem IpsumFinally…an editor can make sure that you don’t leave in dummy text….yes, it can happen. You pop in a little Lorem Ipsum… you know that dummy text that’s used to help designers with their page layout… and you forget to take it out. You’d be surprised how often it’s left in documents and websites. I’ve seen a few examples, although of course now you’re going to toddle off to Google and see what images are on there. Here’s my favourite.

So…

Why do businesses need editors? Simply to make you the best you can be…and save you a red face or an expensive return trip to the printers. It’s like health insurance for your words.

The Armchair Wanderer

A review of The Longest Way Home by Andrew McCarthy

(and a way of following in his footsteps without all the scary bits)

Andrew McCarthy is a travel writer. He was once a film star, a teen idol and a sensitive teen; he still acts and directs. But reading his biography The Longest Way Home you realise that he is a traveller at heart and has a wonderful way with words. This is more than just a biography following his search for intimacy and a sense of belonging (as well as the courage to actually face his demons), this is a travel book. Reading it you can see how he has come to be a prize-winning travel writer and editor-at-large at National Geographic Traveler magazine. If you’ve ever read any of his travel writing you’ll know how passionate he is for immersing himself in the world. Now don’t get me wrong, this is a wonderfully readable biography, if a little uncomfortable to read at times (it really is like reading his diary), but the highlight for me is his travel writing.  From Patagonia and the Amazon to Dublin, McCarthy gives you a real feel for the places he visits.

Now…I’m stuck up here on the Edge of the World (at least that’s how I see it at times), so even travelling back down south to “civilisation” can be a major undertaking (well, that’s how it feels anyway…120 miles to the nearest decent shopping is WAY too far for my liking). So it brings a sense of wonder and, I have to admit, a teensy bit of jealousy, to see how easy it seems for Andrew to hop on a plane and land in an exotic location without a second thought. Yes, I think he is searching for a sense of belonging with his writing assignments, but overall I just felt that I wanted to sit alongside and actually experience what he did. That he can go wandering on his own, through sometimes inhospitable climates, leaves me with a sense of inadequacy in the “freedom to roam” department (and I suppose may also hint at my own psychological blocks and freedom issues). In fact I wanted so much to see the places he did that I did what any self-respecting pseudo-gypsy would. I hopped over to GoogleMaps.

Now bear with me…this really only works if you follow me…go on, open another browser window and get GoogleMaps up (I’ll wait here while you do that)

El Calafate is his first stop in Patagonia, zoom in to follow in Andrew’s footsteps and zoom out to see just where this place actually is in the world. But remember, it’s MUCH better in satellite view! Look at all the snow…don’t you just want to jump down and into the picture?

Move on to El Chalten, isn’t it beautiful! Just type El Chalten from here and the map will take you there. Go on….zoom in and out. And I thought I lived in a remote place!

Rugged huh? http://travelcostaricanow.com

One place I’d never heard of is the Osa in Costa Rica…so you zoom in to see the country  and move down to see the Osa itself, look at Puerto Jiminez, then just wander around the place…and to think McCarthy actually went wandering inland on his own. He either has nerves of steel, is supremely confident, or is out of his mind!

Finally…the Amazon. Nip over to Iquitos, Loreto Region, Peru…click on the photo to have a look at the Plaza de Armas. Who’d have thought there was such a large city on the Amazon? Now leave Iquitos and head for Nauta and mosey on up the Amazon.

So, you have the idea now…you just wander around virtually to see the places he saw. It certainly won’t give you the real experience, but it does add an extra dimension. You can wander around with our intrepid traveller and wish you were actually there with him. Well…..until you realise you’d probably find yourself alone after he’s wandered off the beaten track and left you to your own devices!

But let’s not finish there…let’s go back to GoogleMaps…

Duncansby Stacks… can you find them on the map? http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk

Type in Caithness. Zoom in and out…ok, it’s not as spectacular as the Amazon but we have our strong points. Zoom in near Castletown…there’s a lovely long beach there, perfect for just relaxing, and it’s never crowded. Zoom back out and you’ll see all those lovely little lochs and the countryside beloved of the hunting, shooting and fishing fraternity. We have the Flow Country, Europe’s largest peat landscape and there’s more archaeology than you can shake a stick at (you’d get very sore arms). Oh…and it’s one of the best places in the UK to see the Aurora Borealis.

So…where are you going to go next?

(As for the book…go buy it! I loved every minute of it)

The Classic Cocktail Bible

You may have noticed from my first posting that there will be reviews on here. Don’t worry, it wont be ALL reviews, but as I have a few nice items here I am starting by reviewing a few. The latest fits in nicely with the last: Agent Dmitri was about a spy, which makes me think of James Bond…which makes me think of cocktails. So next we have a review of the Classic Cocktail bible…

classic cocktail bible

When I first received this book from the lovely people at Octopus publishing I decided to give it a test run. Well you have to with a book like this don’t you? Forget the lovely glossy cover, I’ve had some books over the years that entice you in, promise you the earth and then fail on the delivery.

Federation
A Federation…nice cocktail, reminded me of Star Trek.

So I set about seeing what I could make with my very limited drinks stash. Bear in mind that I’m the only drinker in the house and had to wipe the dust off a few bottles that have been hidden in the back of a cupboard for far longer than is probably desirable.

The book is a nice sturdy little thing, not one of those big floppy jobs that ends up covered in sticky residue when you try to pour and mix while reading the recipe. And if you do have a teensy spillage, the glossy hard cover wipes clean easily…yes…this was ticked off the list pretty early on when I had an accident with my new cocktail mixer. The book sits nicely in the hand, the pages are a nice quality and they’re even colour coded so you can quickly find your favourite section. The green gin section has been well used in this test drive.

This takes me to the format of the book. There’s a section for each main spirit, so if you like a certain base for your cocktail (or like me you have a limited stock) you can go straight to that section and have a browse. Interspersed throughout these sections are informative little chapters ranging from techniques for mixing your cocktail, through to equipment and even which glasses to use. There are gorgeous pictures that show you what your creation should look like too. There’s also a glossary in there, although I didn’t need to really look at it as the recipes are well written and explain exactly what to do. What I really did like were the tiny bits of information that appear every now and again against a cocktail…a history of the drink, an explanation of the ingredient or alternative names that are used. It just adds to the experience really.

Opal Martini
Opal Martini – well I had to do something with the blood oranges in the fridge

It was also nice to see an index in the back of this book, it’s simple and well constructed though I did have a couple of niggles. For instance I was looking for a grasshopper…I’d heard about it and wanted to see what was in it, but it took me a while as it’s a vodka grasshopper and was listed under vodka. Also daiquiris are listed separately under daiquiri and vodka daiquiri. It’s almost as though the cocktail titles have just been taken and used to make an alphabetical list, nitpicking perhaps, but as an indexer I notice these things. Also it would have been nice to not just have the names of the cocktails and the main spirit indexed, but also the minor ingredients listed. For example…in the house I had cointreau as well as gin and vodka, and in order to see what delicious concoctions I could make I had to browse through all the recipes in the gin and vodka sections. Not really a hardship, but if I’d have been in a hurry it could have become quite annoying.

Overall though, I found this book to be a lovely little thing. I had a look and all the classics are in there, plus lots more – in all 200 recipes to get you opening up your booze cupboard and mentally checking off what cocktails you can make, rather than wondering if you should have coke or tonic with the contents of the bottles in front of you. A lot of these recipes are also deceptively simple or use a small number of ingredients…cocktail party anyone?

White Lady
A White Lady – my favourite

Did I mention that gave it a test run? Well…I did, and although I made a number of the cocktails, just to try the recipes for quality control you understand, I found out that my favourite cocktail actually has the three ingredients I usually have in my cupboard (gin, cointreau and a lemon). I have since made a number of White Ladies, just to make sure that the recipe works…and ….erm….I may have to test it a few times more…just to make sure.

This little gem is available from Octopus Publishing

You can buy it on Amazon here but your local independent bookstore would love your custom too.

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