Advertising & Marketing

Tuesday, 02 September 2008 17:09

Help with writing and editing company documents with Marion Scher

{pp}So much work goes into producing documents, which is why they’re so long, but so little work goes into editing them.

Good writing is good manners. You can both please and help your public only when you learn how to be the first victim of your writing, how to anticipate a reader's difficulties and to hear yourself as others hear you. - Ritchie R. Ward (American novelist) During my work running writing workshops and editing company documents, I am always amazed at just how much work goes into producing these documents (which is why they’re soooo long) and how little work into editing them. Don’t people realise how little time we all have these days? Why build up to a topic – why not jump right on in there and get to the heart of the matter? That way, we can work out whether we are interested in the subject matter or not… So let’s assume we are interested in the topic, what else could put us off reading?

Too many big words perhaps? And too many ‘catch words’ and jargon. Try this for size:”This augers well to enhance our confidence in dealing with the challenges ahead to realise the full potential of both our human and capital assets. To this end we recently reviewed our strategies with the aim of optimising our fibre, production and marketing capabilities and alignment is in the process of being finalised.” Sound familiar? If it does then you’ve got problems. Why do people think they’ve got to use ‘big words’ to sound important. Last week on a writing training course, I was told by the delegates that even if they wanted to write simply, their bosses would want them to make it sound more complex - simply because… Because they feel they won’t sound important enough with simple language.

Why? Being clever isn’t writing with ‘big words’ – it’s writing so that everyone can understand what you’re trying to say. And lastly don’t forget to carefully edit your work, not only checking spelling and grammar, but also spellings of names. In one document sitting on my desk right now they quote a well known Cabinet Minister – and then go on to spell his name wrong!!! And it’s an English name, not an African one.

This is totally unacceptable. If you know your English skills are limited then get someone else to edit your work, or better still get someone else to write and edit it. So far this article is 395 words long and by now you’ve read enough and I’ve said enough – so use this as an example and say what you’ve got to say and then – stop!!

Contact Information:
Marion Scher
Media Mentors
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082 467 6046

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