April 24 Editing Test with ANSWERS!

1. Commas are a writer’s best friend – except when she needs a semi-colon.
No hyphen in semicolon.
2. An editor is a writer’s indispensible ally. And in my case, they’re part of the same lucky package.
Yeah, an editor who can SPELL is a godsend, but one who can’t is the pits. As luck would have it, it’s indispensable. Brother!
Plus, there’s the old noun-pronoun agreement problem: “an editor” is singular, but it is paired with the plural pronoun “they.” Wrong, wrong, and wrong.
3. But Oh no!
Need a comma after “but”: But, Oh no!
4. Whether your content needs a pick-me-up, or you’ve hired me to write something new for you, our editing experts (‘yours truly’) will channel their perfectionist tendencies to ensure correct spelling, grammar, punctuation, sentence structure and that transitions appear cohesive.
Rule: Always start with double quotes in American English. And no comma after “or,” either, since you start with “whether,” which makes the “or you’ve hire me…” clause necessary to the meaning of the sentence—in other words, it’s not parenthetical. And, I hate that last bit. I would have left that off entirely. Plus, I love a good serial comma! Now that I look at this sentence again, it strikes me that the aside—(“yours truly”)—is a little too juvenile; too mom-and-pop; too, well, cute. It’s as though there’s a giggle somewhere in there.
Suggested: Whether your content needs a pick-me-up or you’ve hired us to write something new for you, our editing experts will channel their perfectionist tendencies to ensure correct spelling, grammar, punctuation, and sentence structure.
Sorry, I didn’t find any “perfectionist tendencies” here! In fact…
5. Get energizing updates and a FREE download of “10 No-Brainer Trips for Writing a Great Blog”.
Um, “No-Brainer TRIPS”??? Wow, wow, and wow. No-brainer rule #1: Put your content into Microsoft Word BEFORE you post it. No-brainer rule #2: READ what you write BEFORE you post.
No-brainer rule #3: Commas and periods always go inside quotation marks in American English. There. Are. No. Exceptions.
6. I offer Editing services for small businesses and entrepreneurs.
Yeah, well, so do I, but I’d never capitalize it.
7. We offer writing services for small businesses, entrepreneurs, public speakers, and thought leaders.
Can we quit with the “thought leaders” already? That’s one sure sign you’re a sheep, and not a wolf. Baa, baa.
8. Get Organized.
Well, this was a title of sorts, so I’ll let it slide.
9. Prior to doing this work, I was an urban planning consultant for non-profit organizations working in developing countries.
Nonprofit—no hyphen.
10. I have devoted my entire business to serving people who struggle with the confusion and overwhelm of content marketing and who really, really want to connect and be understood.
Speaking of struggling with confusion, what’s that bit about “overwhelm”? You can be overwhelmed, something can be overwhelming, but…the overwhelm of? Overwhelm (and its variations) can be a verb, an adverb, or an adjective, but one thing it is not is a noun. I’m, um, like, really, really, really underwhelmed!
11. I recommend BNI to any entrepreneur who wants to up their game.
Noun-pronoun problem: “entrepreneur” is singular, “their” is plural. Plus, “up their game” is tired; let’s all give it a rest. Oh, I know! Let’s bury “up their game” in the same deep, dark grave with “thought leader.” How I HATE that phrase.
This is correct: I recommend BNI to any entrepreneur who wants to up his or her game.
But this is better: I recommend BNI to every entrepreneur who wants to up his or her game.
This is also correct: I recommend BNI to all entrepreneurs who want to up their game.
12. My latest craze is open water swimming (with a wetsuit).
“Open water” needs a hyphen, since it modifies “swimming.” What kind of swimming do you do? Open-water swimming.
13. Each time she edits my work, as she did with essays published in the Los Angeles Times and Ms. Magazine, she addresses craft and emotional content alike.
Italicize both newspaper and magazine titles.
14. We know that you – an amazing, creative, and gutsy entrepreneur — have a ton of responsibility running and growing your business; that you might be too busy to think about, let alone write about your business.
That semicolon plus “that” is not correct. I would suggest “…business, and that you might be…”
Plus, “a ton” is, in my opinion, too colloquial for business writing. Great for a 12-year-old; not so much for a grown-up.

This is why I suggest that everyone thinking about hiring an editor read the editor’s material: read the book(s), read the blogs, read the content. If an editor makes those kinds of mistakes, run.

15. I like Ann Handley’s “Everyone Writes”.
I’ve never read Ann’s book, but the title should have been italicized, or, failing that, that period should have been placed inside the quotation marks.
16. There are some really great suggestions here, some of which I have read and agree that they are fabulous (e.g. “On Writing Well”, “On Writing”).
You can’t write “e.g.” and leave off the comma: A comma always follows i.e. and e.g. And, there’s that problem—again!—with the quotation marks and the comma. If the site doesn’t support italics, I’d leave ’em off. Plus, is “fabulous” a little over-the-top? I mean, we’re talking about a punctuation and grammar book here. A Ferrari is fabulous, a 10-carat pear-shaped diamond is fabulous…there just aren’t that many things that are fabulous, and I wouldn’t put a style guide in with a Ferrari. Oh, I know. You know what it’s like? It’s like awesome. God is awesome, nature is awesome, and my dog is awesome, but that’s about it; that’s about all.
17. My favorite quote from the book: “Omit needless words”.
Read it a little more. I bet somewhere in it E.B. White talks about periods being placed inside quotation marks….
18. Also recommend Joe Sugarman’s “The Adweek Copywriting Handbook”.
Same here; I ole bet Joe knows the periods-and-commas-always-go-inside-quotation marks rule.

This is very basic stuff; all these mistakes were made by people who are paid to know better!

Kick off versus kickoff

Just got this little gem in an email:

We’re excited to kickoff the summer season with a gathering of the world’s top C-level executives under one roof.

Whew!

As it happens, I pulled out my trusty copy of Self-Editing for Content Writers, and, lo and behold! I read this:

Kick off vs. kickoff. Verb form two words; one word as noun.

If you try the two terms out in two different sentences, you can hear the difference.

Hey, if you’re marketing to C-suite guys and gals, you gotta do better than this!

Before You Even Open Your Mouth: The Writing Guide for Professional Speakers

I am thrilled, thrilled, thrilled to announce the publication of my ninth book (Joy!), Before You Even Open Your Mouth: The Writing Guide for Professional Speakers.

It has long since been a source of absolute amazement to me to read content from so-called “professional speaker” websites and look at the basic mistakes these people are making. Some of them claim to be consultants, motivators, leaders, and—my favorite—international best-selling authors, but they just can’t spell! They can’t write! Holy moly!
My book will be available on Amazon.com within the next couple of days. If you can’t figure out what’s wrong with the sentences below, please buy it. You need it.
If you are a professional speaker or aspire to become one, there are lots of opportunities out there for people who truly are professional, as these sentences demonstrate!
Liz Coursen, Sarasota, FL

Why (and how) can someone who claims to get $10,000 a speech have a really nasty punctuation mistake in the very first sentence of her online biography? (There were 4 misspelled words and dozens of punctuation mistakes in her material.) Take a look: She is the worlds leading body language expert in human behavior for leadership and deception detection.

Here’s a sample of sentences I pulled off these websites. It’s rather shocking, when you get right down to it.

12 REASON WHY YOU SHOULD ATTEND THIS PROGRAM

He is in the development phase of launching a book publishing company which will published and distribute his leadership and business management books, audio and video products.

In the 1970’s, 70 to 80 percent of all civilian and military aviation accidents were occurring as a result of human error. (From someone who charges $10,000 plus!)

2/3 of career professional don’t enjoy their work.

Topic Development: Right Story, Right Time to Throttle Your Expertise into More Business

Throughout history there’s been leaders who have shook the world with their passion, voice, message, and charisma.

She knows what will work, and will not work, in order to see growth using brain-based, differentiated instruction and inclusive co-teaching.

Being a member of the XYZ Public Speaking Association has it’s perks.

Stress serves you, which is it’s true purpose.

“Its the number of minutes in each day”, she says.

In 2011, he found his beautiful bride Margot and together they paid off over $115,000 in debt in just 2yrs and 6 months!

His passion is making a difference in people’s lives by teaching critical thinking skills that leads them towards self-sufficiency.

These organizations represent some of the best public speakers from across the country and has helped booked speakers at dozens of events at corporate, non-profit and educational institutions.

The average employee will spend 3.2 years of their life in meetings.

Personal branding can make a huge difference in a student being able to differentiate themselves from competitors that are vying for the same job offers and open positions.

These events are much more intimate than our public offerings and often impromptu as we hear of a speaker who is in town and willing to share their time.

Have you ever met someone who had a great idea but they weren’t effective at delivering their message?

In this fascinating, interactive and fun workshop, every person on the team learns to discover and use their strengths to reach team goals—even “impossible” goals.

She was very organized and prepared wonderful handouts that each participant could use to identify their strengths, weaknesses and fears in regards to public speaking.

Each excels within their own area of expertise, creating an environment of individual proficiencies that meld together in collaboration to serve your organization like none other.

I work with small to medium size business on growing their business through marketing, communication and branding.

The XYZ company was named as a top 100 SBA Company as well as had their winning video submission played at the National SBA conference.

His inspirational message will motivate your audience to achieve successes beyond what they may think or believe is possible and give them the tools and mindset to stay the course.

Have you become friends with someone you were in love with in the hopes they would one day see you as more than a friend?

This talk is appropriate for all groups, as he can relate to anyone from at-risk youths to CEOs, with a powerful message that shines a light on all of the options and opportunities available to anyone willing to put in the effort to make the most of their lives.

How’s your audio presentation? Is it smooth, or peppered with audible pauses — “uh”, “um”, “you know”, etc.

Some speakers even start their keynote speeches with “um”.

A lifelong learner, she continues to take classes on human behavior, but she acknowledges’, ” the best class is one person talking to another”.

Does the speaker start his or her presention with “Um”, “Uh”, or some audible, non-sensical utterance? Believe me, I’ve heard keynote and webinar speakers begin their presentation with “Um”. Is that inspiring? No.

Does the speaker pepper his or her presentation with a lot of audible pauses like “Um”, “Uh”, “You know”?

Realizing that in business and in life there is only one opportunity to “impress” your audience, she developed “Your Sixty Second Self Promotion”.

During this interactive, hands on course you will gain insight into leaving a lasting impression and will write and present your “self promotion” .

Mr. XYZ believes in self-empowerment he believes in “Grabbing The Bull By The Horn”.

The organizations that hire the speakers’ bureau do so because they are interested in saving time and not having to go “speaker shopping”.

He has his famous “Tear-Up-Your-Check Guarantee”.

Having learned to live with a difficult disability “one day at a time”, he proves through the use of magic, humor and personal example that it’s truly “not what happens to you that matters, it’s what you do about what happens to you that makes the difference”.

As short as the rush maybe, it does give you a miniscule boost, if anything.

Get some dough nuts and talk them into being a focus group!

If you’ve been given the responsibility of getting a motivational speaker to talk to your audience, it is important to understand your audience—what do they want to hear, what will stoke their mind, how will they respond to the speaker?

Feel free to ask for referrals, any professional speaker won’t have a problem providing them for you.

Some speakers require their complete payment upfront others only require a deposit.

We also qualify each speaker on being an expert in their specific field.

April 24 Editing Test using sentences by “professional” writers and copy editors.

It’s pretty horrifying to see how many people are marketing themselves as “professional” writers, authors, and editors, and yet can’t spell or write a basic American English sentence.

Nothing strange or unusual below; tear ’em up! Answers coming soon.

1. Commas are a writer’s best friend – except when she needs a semi-colon.
2. An editor is a writer’s indispensible ally. And in my case, they’re part of the same lucky package.
3. But Oh no!
4. Whether your content needs a pick-me-up, or you’ve hired me to write something new for you, our editing experts (‘yours truly’) will channel their perfectionist tendencies to ensure correct spelling, grammar, punctuation, sentence structure and that transitions appear cohesive.
5. Get energizing updates and a FREE download of “10 No-Brainer Trips for Writing a Great Blog”.
6. I offer Editing services for small businesses and entrepreneurs.
7. We offer writing services for small businesses, entrepreneurs, public speakers, and thought leaders.
8. Get Organized.
9. Prior to doing this work, I was an urban planning consultant for non-profit organizations working in developing countries.
10. I have devoted my entire business to serving people who struggle with the confusion and overwhelm of content marketing and who really, really want to connect and be understood.
11. I recommend BNI to any entrepreneur who wants to up their game.
12. My latest craze is open water swimming (with a wetsuit).
13. Each time she edits my work, as she did with essays published in the Los Angeles Times and Ms. Magazine, she addresses craft and emotional content alike.
14. We know that you – an amazing, creative, and gutsy entrepreneur — have a ton of responsibility running and growing your business; that you might be too busy to think about, let alone write about your business.
15. I like Ann Handley’s “Everyone Writes”.
16. There are some really great suggestions here, some of which I have read and agree that they are fabulous (e.g. “On Writing Well”, “On Writing”).

A few late entries!

17. My favorite quote from the book: “Omit needless words”.

18. Also recommend Joe Sugarman’s “The Adweek Copywriting Handbook”.