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Saturday, January 5, 2013

Garbl's Good Cause Communications | My online daily paper

If you work or volunteer for nonprofit agencies and organizations, my daily online paper, Garbl's Good Cause Communications, may provide useful, interesting, even inspiring information and ideas for you.

The news articles, blog items, tweets, Web pages, videos and photos focus mostly on marketing and communications. The also get into related topics, like fundraising, donor relations, campaign organizing, strategic planning, and current social issues.

The software compiles items automatically from Twitter, Google+ and other Web sources I selected when I set up the paper. I'll likely be as surprised--and inspired, I hope--as you by some of its posts.

You can subscribe to my paper, visit its website, or check the Nonprofit Communications tab at the top of My Garblog for the latest issue. Past issues are archived and available from a link at the top of the home page.

I'm available for temporary, long-term, contract or freelance opportunities with progressive, socially responsible firms, agencies, individuals, and nonprofit or political organizations. I'm also available for part-time or full-time staff positions. 

More information about me and my services is available at Garbl's Pencil & Good Cause Communications.

Simplify the Internet | Leo Babauta, zenhabits

If you're at all like me, you can spend a lot of time at your computer (or tablet or smart phone) using the Internet ... for productive but also nonproductive purposes. Stuff we find, read and use on the Internet can be interesting, informative, helpful, fun and inspiring. But it also can be time-consuming and time-wasting.

Babauta's column provides a bunch of good ideas to control our time using the Internet. Following all his ideas would be too much for me. But they're all good starting places to consider.

He writes:
How you simplify depends a lot on what you do on a regular basis, and that’s different for everyone.
Babauta grouped his ideas under these headings (followed by some sample ideas):
Simplify Social
Choose 1 or 2 social networks. If you’re going to do Facebook, don’t do other ones too. You can quit Twitter and Instagram. Really you can! It’s not a necessity by a long shot. These days I use Twitter and Google+ (sparingly).
Post infrequently. Yes, I know that many people post several times an hour, but I believe that’s because they don’t choose. Simplifying is about making choices — just put out your best, and cut back on the noise. When I have something I might want to tweet, I say it to someone near me instead (usually).
Simplify Reading
Scan, and Instapaper. Scan through your sources, open a few that look interesting. Scan the article/post, and if it looks worthy of reading, save it to Instapaper (takes 1 second to save it if you use a bookmarklet). Instapaper becomes your bucket to collect interesting reading. Close the tabs, and get out. You don’t need to read all of it right now — do that later. If you read now, you’ll never finish or get anything else done.
I hadn't heard of Instapaper and am checking it out.
Simplify Email
Filter ruthlessly. Every time you get an email in your inbox you don’t really need (notifications, newsletters, ads and brochures, etc.), take 20 seconds to create a filter so that it never hits your inbox. You’ll save tons of time with this small investment.
All the Rest
Let go. You will probably have a difficult time letting go of certain networks, sources, tools, time-wasters. That’s because you’re afraid of missing out. Let me assure you, I’ve let go of many of these, and you aren't missing anything. You’ll live. Breathe, and let go. Also let go of checking often — it’s not important.
Babauta's article is featured today, Jan. 5, in my online daily paper, Garbl's Simple Dreams--available at the Simplicity tab above and by free email subscription.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Writing Tips: Proofreading | WriteWorld

This article provides good advice on fixing things you've written after the content has been reviewed for accuracy and clarity, after an editor or colleague has tried to correct your grammar and style, after your document has been designed into a document nearing publication.

That's proofreading!

The blogger writes:
Even though proofreading might seem like a tedious task to some, I tend to think of it as the icing on the cake when it comes to creative writing as well—that final touch to perfect a piece of writing in order to make it even better. However, I've found that some role players and writers seem to lack the tools to do so, perhaps as a result of not knowing what to look for.
I encourage you to read the article to get more advice under these subheads:
  • Use a spell-checker ...
Keep in mind that a spell-checker will only reveal typos and errors in spelling; while this is a good place to begin, more often than not you will have to go further than that.
  • Double-check your punctuation
  • Double-check your word use
  • Look for missing words and odd sentence structures
  • Check your grammar
  • Beware of repeats
  • Check your sentence lengths
  • Read, read, and read
  • And finally; read aloud.
Also, check for typos that the designer (or you or an editor) has introduced accidentally into the "final" document.
This proofreading article is featured today, Jan. 4, in my daily online paper, Garbl's Style: Write Choices, available at the Editorial Style tab above and by free email subscription.

Social Media: You Still Need Plain Language |

This article promotes a free "webinar" for U.S. government workers. But I'm noting it to emphasize the accuracy of the headline for everyone using social media. 

The short article also provides these good reasons for using plain language in social media:
  • Social media’s limited real estate 
  • Your relationship with your community
  • Competition for attention.
The webinar probably explains those statements, but they give useful tips as written. Following the plain-language principles for clear, concise writing will help social media writers meet the needs of their targeted readers by getting to the point quickly. 

For more information, without attending the webinar, visit Garbl's Plain English Writing Guide. It describes plain language in seven steps: 
  • Focusing on your reader and purpose
  • Organizing your ideas
  • Writing clear, effective paragraphs
  • Writing clear, simple sentences
  • Using suitable words
  • Creating an enticing design
  • Testing for clarity.
The article on the social media webinar is featured today, Jan. 4, in my daily on line paper, Garbl's Plain English Paragraphs--available at the Plain Language tab above and by free email subscription.

Sign Language - An FP Slide Show | Foreign Policy

This slide show clearly portrays an important means of communication for political/social action, after a disgusting act of violence in India:
The brutal gang rape of a 23-year-old student on a New Delhi bus in December has resulted in swift charges against five men and angry protests across the country. Want a sense of just how outraged people are? Look no further than the signs they're waving at demonstrations.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Thank you ... and My Top 10 Posts

Thank you to everyone who has visited my Garblog since I launched it in 2012. I hope you have found it useful, interesting and even stimulating. I invite you to comment on the blog or individual blog posts and send me questions about writing--either using the blog's Comment box or direct emails to me.

You can find the list anytime in the right-hand column of my blog, but here are my top 10 most popular blog posts in 2012, as of Jan. 3, 2013:

AP updates styles for ethnic cleansing, Indians, man-made, phobia, other terms (172 pageviews)

My Pet Peeves: From the I Entries in Garbl's Editorial Style Manual (165 pageviews)

Advertising Agencies Have Forgotten How To Use Plain English To Sell Stuff | George Parker, Business Insider

10 Pinterest Best Practices for Nonprofits « Nonprofit Tech 2.0 Blog :: A Social Media Guide for Nonprofits

Garbl's Plain English Writing Guide | Celebrating International Plain Language Day!

Garbl's Writing Center: Free portal to writing resources 15 years old

Writing English as a Second Language | William Zinsser, The American Scholar

My Pet Peeves: From the K and L Entries in Garbl's Editorial Style Manual

Garbl's Concise Writing Guide--and Words of Wisdom on Concise Writing

The Helpful Guide to Simple Christmas Links [and Communicating Simply] | Joshua Becker, Becoming Minimalist

Also, the Creativity tab above--which features my daily online paper on that topic--is, by far, the most popular of those tabs.

AP compiles presidential inauguration style guide | The Associated Press

This "style guide" from the Associated Press is mostly a listing or description of facts about the inauguration. Or, as AP wrote in its advisory to editors at AP member organizations: 
To help with spelling and usage of the terms for the Jan. 21 inauguration of President Barack Obama, The Associated Press compiled a style guide of essential words, phrases and definitions. A few terms are from the AP Stylebook. Others are common usage in AP political and historical coverage.
I'm highlighting several items below mostly because they mention or show editorial style:
presidential oath of office
"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."
Note that the oath, provided in the U.S. Constitution, does not end with "so help me God." George Washington may have added the phrase to his oath. Apparently, all presidents since Franklin D. Roosevelt have chosen to add the phrase.
Inauguration Day
Capitalize only when referring to the collection of events that include inauguration of a U.S. president; lowercase in other uses: Inauguration Day is Jan. 21. This is the 57th inauguration. ...
Lowercase adjective for all ceremonies marking the president's new term and as a noun for the address given by the president at his swearing-in.
Capitol Building
Domed home of the U.S. House and Senate.

Capitol Hill
Site of Capitol Building, nicknamed the hill.
It's interesting and contradictory that AP is capitalizing Building in the two terms above. The AP Stylebook refers to just the U.S. Capitol or the Capitol when naming the building (lowercase).

Here are my related entries in Garbl's Editorial Style Manual:
capital, capitol Often confused or misspelled. Capital is a city, the seat of government. Do not capitalize: Salem is the capital of OregonCapital city is redundant. Capital also refers to money. Capitol is the building in which the U.S. Congress or the state Legislature meets. Capitalize U.S. Capitol and the Capitol when writing about the building in Washington, D.C., and do the same when writing about state capitols: The California Capitol is in SacramentoCapitol building is redundant.
Capitol Hill Not Capital Hill, for the Seattle district or site of the U.S. Capitol.   
Here's one more entry from AP's latest message to editors:
Martin Luther King Jr. Day
Annual federal holiday observed on the third Monday of January, coinciding with Inauguration Day.
Note that AP does not surround Jr. with commas in the name of the holiday (or in other uses). That style is accurate; including the commas would imply that Jr. is not essential to identifying King. But it is ... to separate King from his father.
The AP article is featured today, Jan. 3, in my daily online paper, Garbl's Style: Write Choices, available at the Editorial Style tab above and by free email subscription.

My New Year's resolution is to be fearless with my creativity | Lauren Modery, CultureMap Austin

With the help of mentors and heroes, I've reached a point where I no longer second guess myself — I no longer ask if what I'm doing is good enough, right enough or best enough. Like a child untouched, I just do it. 
That's the main point of Modery's kick-in-the-butt start-of-the-new-year article. As I enter the third year of my semi-retirement from full-time work, considering the possibility of full-time retirement, I think Modery's resolution would be valuable--and inspiring--for me too.

Modery continues:
That means that what I create, whether it's a piece of art, words on a paper or any other project that strikes my fancy, is not always impressive, but I'm okay with that because half the battle is just getting myself to make it.
And Modery concludes (emphasis added):
I'm learning as I get older that the majority of people want to create, but their fears prevent them from doing so. Imagine all the incredible art that will never be introduced to this world! We can bemoan that we don't have the time or money, but I call hogwash! It strictly boil downs to self-doubt. 
In 2013, I vow to continue living my creative life to the fullest, and so should you. You only have one shot at this life. What do you have to lose?
Modery's article is featured today, Jan. 3, in my daily online paper, Garbl's Creativity Connections, available at the Creativity tab above and by free email subscription.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Garbl's Editorial Style Manual: holidays and holy days

Today being the day after New Year's Day holiday, I'll continue the celebration by highlighting the preferred editorial styles for naming holidays. This item is from Garbl's Editorial Style Manual, but its advice is similar to preferences in the Associated Press Stylebook and other popular mainstream manuals in the United States:
holidays and holy days Capitalize all holidays and holy days: Chinese [or Lunar] New Year, Christmas, Columbus Day, Easter, Groundhog Day, Halloween, Hanukkah, Independence Day, Labor Day, Memorial Day, Thanksgiving, Year of the [Rat], etc. Punctuate these holidays as shown: New Year's Day, New Year's Eve, Martin Luther King Jr. Day (no comma before Jr.), St. Patrick's Day, Washington's Birthday, Presidents Day (no apostrophe), Valentine's Day, Veterans Day (no apostrophe).
My manual also acknowledges that the U.S. is a diverse country in which people recognize and follow many religions (or no religion)--an essential right protected by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

My manual says:
Because various religions use differing rituals in December and January (and throughout the year), it's often useful to refer to the holiday seasona holiday party or a similar phrase. Christmas, for example, is a Christian celebration not recognized by all religious beliefs. Government agencies cannot promote religious practice. 
Here are some related entries that supplement the advice above:
New Year's, New Year's Day, New Year's Eve But the new year.
Presidents Day Not President's Day or Presidents' Day.
Veterans Day No apostrophe according to the U.S. statute establishing the legal holiday. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, formerly the Veterans Administration, also takes no apostrophe.
Washington's Birthday Capitalize birthday when naming the official U.S. holiday, called Presidents Dayby some states and organizations to also honor President Lincoln and other presidents. Washington was born on Feb. 22, but the legal federal holiday is the third Monday in February. 

Monday, December 31, 2012

Wrong Again About Plain Language - Joseph Kimble, National Conference of State Legislatures

Kimble begins his article (emphasis added):
In a way, you have to admire someone who has spent almost two decades campaigning against plain language — unsuccessfully — and who still carries on. ...
What’s troubling is to see the recirculation of criticisms that are demonstrably false and that have been answered so many times. You have to wonder: How could anyone who knows the plain-language literature keep trotting out these inaccuracies and arguments? It’s hard to figure.
Kimble first tackles, in detail, Stark's charge that "Plain language generates errors." Kimble responds to a particular before-and-after comparison of plain language that Stark criticized.

Here's the article Kimble is writing about.

Kimble concludes:
All in all, then, the changes in meaning that Mr. Stark summons up are nonexistent, insignificant in practice, or deliberate. The revised version is not only shorter and clearer but also more accurate. More accurate, not less. And so it is that Mr. Stark’s case against plain language comes unmoored.
Kimble continues by responding briefly to Stark's other  mischaracterizations of plain language. Stark's charges include:
  • Advocates believe that “it is more important to be clear . . . than to be accurate.” 
  • As an example of a rule that he says “makes no sense,” Mr. Stark cites the rule “to address you” — that is, to address readers as you. 
  • “[Another] fallacy is the command that short sentences should be used.”
  • “The most damaging Plain Language rule is to write only words that are commonly used by laypeople in ordinary speaking and writing.” 
  • “I would be embarrassed to admit that my job is to write dumbed down statutes.”
Kimble's article is featured today, Dec. 31, in my daily online paper, Garbl's Plain English Paragraphs, available at the Plain Language tab above and by free email subscription.

For more information on this topic, visit Garbl's Plain English Writing Guide. It describes seven steps on how to improve your writing skills by using plain English techniques:
  • Focusing on your reader and purpose
  • Organizing your ideas
  • Writing clear, effective paragraphs
  • Writing clear, simple sentences
  • Using suitable words
  • Creating an enticing design
  • Testing for clarity.

Bryan Garner | Interview by Jesse Pearson, VICE

As a writer and editor, I have great respect for the person interviewed for this article. Bryan A. Garner is the author of Garner’s Modern American Usage, editor in chief of Black’s Law Dictionary, and  contributor of the Grammar and Usage chapter in The Chicago Manual of Style. His Modern American Usage is the contemporary equivalent of the earlier Follett and Fowler books. It's one of the few writing references that sit on my desk.

Pearson writes: 
Garner recently spoke with Vice, taking a little time from his busy schedule of lecturing, researching, writing a book with Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia, and generally fighting the good fight of preserving the grace of American English while also tracking its evolution.
(I'm no fan of conservative Scalia and haven't read their book. But I don't hold that against Garner.)

Here's a taste of the Q&A's in this interview:
Vice: To start, I’m interested in how English grammar and usage morph over time.
Bryan Garner: Well, grammar is constantly changing. It was changing fairly rapidly from the period before Chaucer wrote in the 1200s through probably the late 1500s, when Shakespeare began writing his plays. ... And most of the speakers were not literate. In those kinds of conditions, when you have a largely oral culture, things can change quickly. ... It’s very interesting that a grammarian like Lindley Murray, who in 1795 wrote his English Grammar, became the best-selling author of the first half of the 19th century. He sold more than 10 million copies of that book.
Nobody else was close, and grammar was something that Americans seemed to care about a lot. Murray was an American lawyer who ended up sort of defecting to England after opposing the revolution and moving to York. But he became very influential as an English grammarian. He outsold Stephen King or J.K. Rowling—and to a smaller population. It really is quite extraordinary.
I’d say that the general decline of proper grammar today has to do with the fact that it’s not really put into practical use by as many people as it once was.
Well, we have lost serious readership in modern culture. It is astounding how few lawyers whom I deal with subscribe to any serious journalism at all.
How do you see the quality of writing and communication on the internet affecting grammar today?
I can’t really tell. Some of it is quite bad and quite sloppy, and some of it is quite good. I just don’t know what most people are reading on the internet. I have the idea that it’s mostly a few middlebrow vehicles that give quick news dispatches.
Here are some other provocative questions that had provocative answers:
  • Do you keep up with the state of grammar as it’s taught in public schools nowadays?
  • And if public schools don’t teach grammar as well as private schools do, it would follow that grammar helps to maintain class differences in culture.
  • Going back to these points of grammar that you refer to as “superstitions,” such as not ending a sentence with a preposition or not beginning a sentence with and or but… these things were taught as gospel in my high school, and they’re just wrong.
  • A lot of people—when they come across somebody who uses abstruse words or a larger than usual vocabulary, or who speaks with noticeably proper grammar—will perceive that person as arrogant or snooty. Do you come across that much?
  • In your work on legal writing, there’s a lot of support for plain and simple—a kind of directness that is lacking in a lot of legalese.
  • How about giving us a layman’s definition of descriptivism and prescriptivism?
  • Will you tell me the names of a couple contemporary fiction writers of whom you’re a fan?
  • And when you are reading fiction for pleasure, is it difficult to be so attuned to grammar and usage?
  • What advice would you give to people who are in their mid-20s and might feel like they’re lacking in proper education regarding these things? Where can one educate oneself regarding grammar?
The VICE article is featured today, Dec. 31, in my daily online paper, Garbl's Style: Write Choices, available at the Editorial Style tab above and by free email subscription.

The Best of Brain Pickings 2012 | Maria Popova, Brain Pickings

Brain Pickings is the brain child of Maria Popova, who writes:
Brain Pickings is a human-powered discovery engine for interestingness, culling and curating cross-disciplinary curiosity-quenchers, and separating the signal from the noise to bring you things you didn't know you were interested in until you are.
For this article, Popova writes:
On this last day of the year, what better way to send 2012 off than with a look back at the its most stimulating reads? Gathered here are the most read and shared articles published on Brain Pickings this year, to complement the recent omnibus of the year’s best books. Enjoy, and may 2013 be inspired in every possible way.
Here are headlines for six articles that focus on writing:
  •  "The Daily Routines of Famous Writers"
  • "10 Tips on Writing from David Ogilvy"
  • "Henry Miller’s 11 Commandments of Writing & Daily "Creative Routine"
  • "Why Emotional Excess is Essential to Writing and Creativity"
  • "Kurt Vonnegut’s 8 Tips on How to Write a Great Story"
  • "New Year’s Resolution Reading List: How To Read More and Write Better."
"Why Emotional Excess is Essential to Writing and Creativity" is featured today, Dec. 31, in my daily online paper, Garbl's Creativity Connections--available at the Creativity tab above and by free email subscription.

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