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An Editor Spins Her Thoughts about Web Content
By: Linda Jay Geldens
A glossy magazine placed an advertisement on its Web site, targeting the publication’s upscale subscribers. The expensive ad emphasized how perfect the tiniest detail would be for guests who stayed at a certain, very fancy hotel.
There was only one small problem in the ad, but it was big enough to undermine the credibility of the hotel’s claim to perfection. The headline blared, When Everything Has to Just Right
Uh-oh. What happened to the “Be” before the “Just Right”?
You may be losing business or hurting your professional reputation by sending out unedited Web site copy. Text that is riddled with errors will distract present or potential clients. The reader will think, do I really want to buy a product or service from someone whose copy is sloppy?
One way to ensure that your Web site message will be as perfect as possible is to invest in the services of a professional copyeditor/proofreader. In the twinkling of a well-trained eye, a topnotch editor can clean up your Web site copy so it sparkles in the sunlight.
Misplaced modifiers, dangling participles, your’s/yours, two/to, and other hair-raising/hare-raising errors will melt away. Skilled editors say that mistakes “leap off the page” at them. And potential clients will leap off the couch to e-mail or call you because of your magnetic Web site copy.
Horror Stories about Unedited Copy
When Web content is launched into the stratosphere raw and unedited, unfortunate occurrences happen:
- A national eNewsletter goes out with the headline “For Pubic School Educators” (the “l” is often left out of that pesky word Public)
- “And as we stand on the toes of those who have gone before us…” appears in a scholarly piece (should be “stand on the shoulders”)
- A financial consultant offers a complimentary phone call (which would only have favorable news – the word here would be complementary)
- $25,000. instead of $250,000. in a document might cause a legal nightmare
- The non-word its’ (an apostrophe never follows its) works its way into an otherwise excellent story
- “We’d like to pedal your ideas” is sent worldwide in a magazine ad, and not just to bicycle owners (peddle is the operative word here)
How Working with an Editor Helps Your Business
Maybe you think that copyediting and proofreading are luxury items in your publications budget. Or that nobody will notice if a few mistakes slip through in your Web site copy. But truthfully, copyediting is a necessity and not a luxury, because people will notice mistakes in your copy.
Here are more ways in which a professional copyeditor can benefit your business, in addition to making suggestions about text additions, deletions, and clarifications:
- An editor writes “zingier” headlines – so potential customers will be drawn into your Web site by the zinginess
- An editor breaks up dense paragraphs – so potential customers will actually read your copy because it is easy to read
- An editor introduces correct punctuation and good grammar – so potential customers will be convinced that your product or service is high quality, since the copy that advertises it is high quality
- An editor has ideas about when to italicize or boldface words or phrases – so potential customers will be interested in reading the text
Web site text is different from magazine articles and book chapters. The pages are smaller, the paragraphs are shorter, graphics or photographs often accompany the text. Web site “visitors” are assumed to have a shorter attention span than book or magazine readers.
This means that a reader spends just a few minutes reading the text at your Web site. It makes sense that you will want to present your company or services in as professional a light as possible.
How to Hire a Copyeditor
Copyeditors can be found through professional organizations such as Bay Area Editors’ Forum, Bookbuilders West, consulting and marketing organizations, directories of editorial professionals, ads in newspapers and magazines, and by looking up copyeditors on search engines.
Employing a good copyeditor to shape up your Web site text will ensure that your message is conveyed beautifully – and that’s not just editorial spin!
About the Author
Linda Jay Geldens is an experienced, versatile, lightning-fast copyeditor/proofreader/copywriter based in Marin County, near San Francisco. She “truly delights in, and has a passion for, working with words.” Her e-mail address is: LindaJay@aol.com, and her Web site URL (in progress) is: http://www.LindaJayGeldens.com.
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