Let’s face it, proofreading is a skill that some people have a knack for and others dread. While everyone has their own approach, here are five tricks that may help you become a better proofreader.
Take a Nap
Well maybe not a nap, but take a break after you are done writing. By giving your mind some rest, you’ll be able to come back and proof your work with fresh eyes.
Print it Out
Looking at a computer screen for an extended period of time can strain your eyes. Print your work and you may—like I usually do—find some typos.
Speak your Words
Maybe you didn’t see any missing words or commas, but hearing what you wrote may uncover unseen errors.
No, don’t read each word backwards, read the sentences in reverse order, starting with the last line of your document. This trick helps because your brain knows what it meant to write, but maybe that’s not what was written.
Call on a Friend
Or a coworker. After you are satisfied with your work, it’s always a good idea to have someone else take a look at it. New eyes may spot things that you missed.
Are there other grammar questions that you’d like us to explore further? Let us know in the comments!
Click for image source
LinkedIn is the largest professional networking service on the Internet. It can help users explore job opportunities, be seen by potential employers and network in their field, but it takes more than just signing up for a profile to get results. Here are seven tips to help you take your profile from beginner to all-star to make the most out of your profile.
- Have a professional picture. It is important to remember that LinkedIn is a professional platform, not a social one like Facebook where your picture can be casual. Your picture should portray you in a professional light and make future employers take you seriously – no selfies or beach pictures please! Also make sure that you are the only person in your profile picture so there isn’t confusion about which person you are.
- Make an in-depth header. Fill in every field in the header with specific and accurate information so your profile stands out to the right people. Include your industry and location, as well as current position—highlight other previous positions if you’ve been in the industry for a while. If you’re new to the working world, include your education and/or internship experience.
- Create an interesting summary. The summary is one of the most important parts of your profile. Its job is to interest the reader enough that they want to learn more about you. Spend time determining what you want your connections to know about you and what you think your strongest characteristics are.
- Sell yourself. It is important that everyone looking at your profile knows your skill sets and accomplishments. When creating your skills and experience section, add all of the programs you have worked with and all of the characteristics you have. You should have at least three skills listed, but once you get started you will see how much more you can do.
- Make connections. The entire website is dedicated to making professional connections. If you don’t make a network for yourself, no one is going to see your profile. If there aren’t many people you know to connect with, try joining groups and participating in discussion boards. Get your name out there and you will have more connections in no time.
- Include attachments and visuals of your past work. When listing past job or internship experiences, add a project you are specifically proud of. If you want to include an uploaded version of your resume and references, then go ahead! These are the kinds of things that will set your profile apart from the others.
- Publish posts that interest you and that are relevant to your field. When you publish posts, it is another way to get your name out there and get people to see what you are an expert in.
Even if you make an all-star profile, you’ll need to be active to remain relevant, so make sure to frequently update, connect and post to get the most out of your account. Can you think of any other ways to improve your LinkedIn profile? Let us know in the comments below!
It’s not always easy to stay on task and accomplish everything that needs to be done. Sometimes it feels like no matter how hard you work, there is still a pile of paperwork you need to get through. Here are some productivity tips to help make the most out of your day:
- Make a to-do list. List all of the tasks that you have to do in order of importance or deadline. It helps to have a clear outline of everything you have to do and when it needs to be done by so that you don’t start to panic thinking you need to accomplish everything in one day.
- Don’t put off until tomorrow what could be done today. Procrastination may seem appealing, but in the end, it will come back to haunt you. If you have the compulsion to procrastinate, just think about everything else that will soon begin to pile up. You will then have to spend your time completing the pile of work you avoided, leaving less time to work on other projects that could easily be finished now. Try to finish the hard stuff first so you can move on to easier tasks later, give yourself periodic breaks and try to keep yourself motivated by thinking about how happy you will be when you finish.
- Avoid distractions. There will always be distractions taunting you from every direction. Sometimes they are hard to avoid, especially during those times when you are looking for a way to distract yourself. Turn off your cell phone, block distracting websites like Facebook, stay away from people who try to engage you in conversation and work in a quiet environment.
- Be realistic with your time goals. Realize that tasks always take longer than you originally intend for them to. Set aside enough time to finish your work—include some buffer time, if necessary.
- Find time, or make time, to sleep. Sleep is a key factor to productivity. If you don’t get enough of it, you won’t be able to function as fully as you would if you had gotten enough rest.
- What would you like to accomplish tomorrow? Before ending your day, make a list of what you would like to accomplish tomorrow. By setting a clear list of goals for the next day, you’ll have a strategy allowing you to enjoy your evenings and be ready to go in the morning.
How do you make the most out of your work day? Let us know in the comments below!
How many times have you started reading something and then, before you were even finished with the first paragraph, became disinterested and stopped? I will throw my guilty hand in the air, and I know I’m not the only one. Something made us interested enough to look at it in the first place, so why were we turned off by the content as soon as we started reading, and how do we stop ourselves from writing articles that do the same?
- Make sure you are interested in your subject. If you don’t care about the subject you are writing about, it will show. There needs to be some passion or spark behind the words on the page or a reader will be just as bored reading it as you were when you wrote it.
- Approach the topic from a different perspective. Think outside the box and come up with something that doesn’t sound like every other article covering the same topic. People will always be more interested in reading something from a perspective they have never heard before, even if the topic is being written about often.
- Make it relevant. If no one can relate to your topic, chances are that they won’t continue reading. To keep the reader engaged, it should feel like you are talking directly to them.
- Think of your audience. What group of people you are trying to reach? When you try to make an audience too diverse, you lose relevance and the ability to relate to what you are trying to say. Narrow your audience and you are more likely to have a better turn out.
- Make them laugh. Humor is always risky however, when used correctly it can make all the difference. People like to read something that makes them smile and if you are able to manage that, your reader should definitely make it to the end of your piece.
- Keep it short and sweet. Try not to ramble. Have you ever closed out of an article because it looked like a long read? People are increasingly multi-tasking, and they typically only browse articles online. The fewer words it takes you to prove your point, the better.
- Stay on task. Don’t write about several different topics all at once. If you get to the end of what you were writing and you see that the end result has nothing to do with the title of the article, go back and see where you started to stray. If you can pinpoint the moment you started to get off topic, it will be easier to go through and take out the unnecessary information.
Any additional ideas on how to keep your readers interested? Tell us in the comments below!
We’re a full week into May and right in between the spring and summer. Seasonal press releases, ads, blogs, etc. are being published, so here are a few spring- and summer-related grammar tips to help you while you write your content:
- This Sunday, we will be celebrating Mother’s Day (not Mothers Day or Mothers’ Day).
- All seasons—spring, summer, fall and winter—are lowercase. Equinox or spring equinox also are lowercase.
- Memorial Day is a holiday, so the first letter in both words should be capitalized. If you have the day off, you might go to a barbecue (not barbeque, Bar-B-Q or BBQ).
- Daylight saving time already has passed for the season, but when it comes again in the fall, the written style remains the same—no capitalization, no hyphens and no plurals (it’s “saving,” not “savings”).
- Graduation season is here, so remember to use apostrophes in the general terms bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, etc. (no capitalization). However, the proper form is capitalized and does not have an apostrophe. For example, Bachelor of Arts and Master of Science.
- If you’re going on a vacation, you’re a traveler who is traveling (one L, not two).
What are some other good seasonal writing tips! Share them with us in the comments!
Public relations, marketing and advertising professionals do quite a bit of brainstorming to generate ideas for content, campaigns, events and media pitches. Some ideas come easier than others, so here are a few tips to help you brainstorm when you get stuck (or even just as general practice):
- Think Like Someone Else—Put yourself in someone else’s shoes when you’re trying to come up with ideas. Whether you’re working on a project that would appeal to someone who is from a different generation than you are, or someone in a different profession, take the time to think like someone else. For example, if you’re brainstorming ideas for a media pitch, outline what you think a reporter would want to know about your client and frame your story idea/pitch around that. Or if you have a product that you need to market to a specific audience, talk to someone within that audience to get some informal thoughts.
- Brain Writing—Just as with writer’s block, writing freely about whatever comes to mind can help you generate ideas. Set aside 10 minutes and write down every idea you have, whether or not you like it. Take a step back and revisit your list after a few minutes. Looking at it with a fresh set of eyes might help you expand on some of the ideas.
- Reverse Thinking—Rather than trying to come up with solutions for your clients, thinking about potential problems could be a good way to brainstorm. For example, instead of asking, “How can I make my client’s website more user-friendly?” ask “How can I create a horrible user experience?” and make a list. Once you have your list of ways to create a bad client website, generate solutions for all the items.
- Group Sessions—As they say, “Two heads are better than one.” Sometimes, individual brainstorming leads to a dead end, so it’s a good idea to enlist some help from your colleagues and coworkers. Bounce ideas off of each other and don’t be afraid to vocalize your thoughts. A little bit of teamwork can take an incomplete thought and turn it into something great.
What techniques do you try when you’re brainstorming? Let us know in the comments!
Today, we are talking about the differences between further and farther, as we continue our series on commonly confused words.
To be fair, both words mean “at a more distant place” and are commonly used interchangeably in most English-speaking countries, with farther being rarely used. However, if you’re a stickler for grammar, they should be used in different situations, at least in American English.
Fear not though, there’s a simple distinction between the two words. Further is used when talking about figurative or metaphorical distances (more time, more effort, etc.), while farther is used for physical distances (more miles, more inches, etc.).
Need a tip for when to use farther? Take the stem word—far—and think about the opening line of Star Wars IV: “A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…” Here, this imaginary galaxy is farther—not further—away than the coffee shop down the street. Why? Because we are talking about the physical distance to the other galaxy, whether it is 100 feet or 100 parsecs.
If you’re in a pinch and can’t decide which word to use, go with further.
Are there other grammar questions that you’d like us to explore further?
We’re almost through the first week of December, which means holiday-related content is being published everywhere! Whether you’re writing a holiday-themed press release, article, blog post, brochure or just signing your annual cards, here are a couple of tips to help you with your holiday content:
- Capitalize words like Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Kwanzaa, Yule, Yuletide, North Pole, Jesus, Jesus Christ and Feliz Navidad. Because a Grinch derives from the proper name of Dr. Seuss’ famous grumpy character, it also is capitalized. Though Champagne often is widely used as a generic term to describe what one drinks during a holiday celebration, the term actually refers to a specific type of sparkling wine produced from grapes grown in the Champagne region of France and fermented in the bottle to create carbonation. Because of this, Champagne should be capitalized and other sparkling wines should simply be referred to as sparkling wine.
- The jolly guy who brings toys to children around the world is Santa Claus, not Clause, unless you’re referring to the movie, “The Santa Clause.” While we’re on the topic of movies, holiday movie and song titles should be placed inside quotes—“Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” “Silent Night,” “White Christmas” and “Auld Lang Syne.”
- The eight-day Jewish Festival of Lights is spelled Hanukkah, according to AP Style. Another popular, traditional way to spell it is Chanukah.
- Only the first word in Nativity scene is capitalized. Unless they’re included in titles or headlines, other words/phrases that should not be capitalized include: noel, gifts, poinsettia, menorah, dreidel, mistletoe, happy holidays, season’s greetings and hallelujah.
- New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day have apostrophes. This season, the new year refers to only 2015—Dec. 31, 2014, is the eve of the upcoming new year, and Jan. 1, 2015, refers to the first day of the single year that has just begun. You can always write, “Happy New Year,” without the apostrophe. However, if you’re referring to the new year in general, don’t capitalize it: “We will discuss marketing strategies for the new year.”
Feel free to regift (one word) these pieces of advice, and share your own with us! You can also check out the AP Style’s 2014 Holiday Style Guide.
Professionals in the marketing industry often have multiple client projects going on simultaneously. But how do you ensure that each project is getting the attention it deserves? Many people try to multitask, and while that can help you tackle several things at once, it also can set you back if you don’t approach it correctly.
Here are a few multitasking and time management tips for your consideration:
- Lists—Keeping to-do and priority lists is a great way to stay organized and in-tune with what you have to work on each day. Each morning, craft a to-do list and prioritize the items on that list. You can always rearrange the order of your tasks if something more important comes along, but make sure to keep your list visible (and not under the stack of papers on your desk). Don’t forget about the best part—crossing off your tasks when you’ve completed them!
- Planners/Calendars—You can benefit from dedicating blocks of time to work on specific projects, such as monitoring social media from 8 to 9 a.m. and writing a press release from 10 to 11:30 a.m. Planners and calendars can help you keep track of that time, as well as other appointments, meetings or calls you have on your schedule. Whether you keep a physical or digital planner, have it handy. Digital apps, like the new Google Calendar, also can be useful. If you have trouble remembering appointments, set reminder alerts and alarms at different intervals to help you keep track of time and to ensure you’ll make your meeting.
- Focus—If you’re not focused, it’s going to be hard to complete anything on your list. Avoid working on more than two tasks at a time and find two things that you can easily toggle between. If you have a conference call and can pay attention while adding postage to your company’s Christmas cards, go for it, but if you’re trying to write an important case study, you might not be able to listen and write at the same time. Once you’ve finished with one of your two tasks, allow yourself to move on to another. Email is a big source of distraction. Turn off pop-up notifications and try to sift through/respond to emails every half hour or hour instead of right when they come in (unless it’s an urgent matter). You can flag important emails to remind yourself to send a response later. Similarly, limit the number of open tabs/windows on your Internet browser or computer screen. When you’re finished with a page, close it or bookmark it for later.
- Ask for Help—If you simply have too much on your plate, reach out to co-workers who can help you tackle some items on that extensive to-do list. Don’t expect them to complete your most time-consuming and challenging tasks, rather see if they can help you knock out some smaller projects when they have a bit of free time.
What strategies do you use when you have a lot of projects going on at once? Let us know in the comments!
Affect and effect look and sound almost the same, but that doesn’t mean they can be used interchangeably. Unfortunately, they are two of the most commonly misused words, but figuring out which one to use is easier than you may think.
Simply put, affect is almost always used as a verb, and effect as a noun. Affect means to influence someone or something, or to produce a result, whereas effect is the result of a cause or action.
Affect also can mean to act in a way that’s not typical, and effect can mean a private possession. For example:
- Normally energetic and supportive, Coach Tomlin affected an air of disappointment on the sideline.
- Packing up personal effects is always the hard part of moving.
Before we close this blog out, let’s address why I said affect and effect are almost always used as a verb and noun, respectively. Sometimes it’s the other way around. When used as a verb, effect means to bring about or to accomplish.
- Coach Franklin hopes the upcoming bye week effects improvement in the Nittany Lions’ offense.
Likewise, affect can be used as a noun—although rarely—meaning an emotional state or implying a mood someone is experiencing.
- After the Steelers lost to the Browns, I sat on my couch in an emotionless affect.
Would you like us to explore other grammar questions? Let us know in the comments.