December, 2009

Separated by a common language, guest post by Roy Jacobsen

The first time I ended up on Elaine’s blog, I found myself giggling about her article “A few little words – why straplines matter.” I knew immediately from the context what she was talking about, but for this American reader, straplines are what show up on a woman’s sun-tanned shoulders. So straplines matter here, as well; just not for the same reasons.

England and America are indeed “separated by a common language.”

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Mind your language – setting your Word default to UK English

Making sure the language default in Word, or Pages if you’re a Mac user, is set for UK English isn’t about being patriotic.  It’s about writing for your audience. If I were writing for an American audience, I would expect to use American spellings.  So if you want to know how to eliminate those ‘z’s and other peculiar spellings.

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Does your CV get you noticed?

Guest post by Kate Walker, career transition consultant and CV expert

Did you know that on average a busy recruiter spends only 60 seconds reading your CV? Sad but true. Especially when you think of the blood, sweat and tears you spent writing it.

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Contractions don’t have to be painful

Why are people so afraid of contractions? I don’t mean contractions as experienced by mothers-to-be in labour. For goodness’ sake, people have every right to be afraid of that sort of contraction. Just thinking about them makes me wince and brings tears to my eyes. And I haven’t had children!Anyway, I digress and I’m feeling queasy so back to my point. The contractions I’m talking about are things like:

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What’s the point of political slogans?

Picture of Ryan Giggs

Hot on the heels of my post about straplines, here’s a BBC News online article speculating on the sound-bite Cameron will use to close the Tory conference.

As with straplines, a lot of thought and care has to go into political party soundbites. Yeah, I know. Hard to believe when you hear some of them. Some sound as though they’ve been scribbled on an expenses chit in the back of a limo, on the way back to that second home. Others reek of a slick advertising agency.

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VW Blue Motion ad makes me green with envy – a great illustration of clear, simple, but creative copy


vw-ad-for-blog-2.jpgI love this ad for VW’s Blue Motion range. It ran on the London Underground and I’ve seen it at a couple of motorway service stations.  I think it’s SO clever.

It perfectly illustrates the power of words when used well and creatively. The message is the economy of the Blue Motion range and it’s reflected by wonderfully economic copy.

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A few little words – why straplines matter

national-clamps-logo.jpgI spotted one of the most ill-considered company straplines I think I’ve ever seen the other day.  I was on my way into Kingston when I noticed the logo on the van in front of me.‘National Clamps’, the jolly, bright yellow logo proclaimed.

But it was the line that cut through the logo that made me snort with derision. Written in a soft script typeface, to give it that human touch, was the phrase ‘We Care’.  ‘National Clamps – We Care’?  Do me a favour.

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A little guide to keywords and why we need them

Most people know that keywords and phrases play a role in website search engine optimisation (SEO).  However, do you know why they are important and how they work? Do you know how to make sure your chosen words and phrases will bring people to your website?

Want to find out more? I asked website designer and developer, Robert Games of Pad Media, to help me put together a basic guide to keywords. And here it is.

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One word or two?

Sometimes (or should that be some times?) it’s difficult to know whether something (some thing?) should be written as one word or two. Well, it all depends on context.  Here’s an example.

A stroppy, bored teenager may use the one word version of ‘whatever’ (emphasis on ever for maximum effect of course!) as a retort to a weary parent. Whereas the weary parent may well ask ‘what ever did happen to our sweet, angelic little child?’  I’ll explain the differences later.

I’ve put together a list of words that seem to cause most confusion. It’s by no means exhaustive but I hope you’ll find it useful.

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Wardrobe rage results in new word

I invented a new word today.  Pantrum. It happened quite by accident but I’m really rather pleased with it. 

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Hello. I'm Elaine, I'm a copywriter and this is my blog.

It's mostly about words and writing - things that inspire me, entertain me, and make me smile. Sometimes it's about things that horrify me so much I want to scream and shout!

I hope you enjoy it and find it useful. And speaking of useful - scroll down and take a look at the Oxford Dictionaries tool.

Click here to find out a bit more about me.

Word Alchemy Blog