Therefore Strategic Technology Services

Saturday, 29 December 2012

Content is King

The Therefore Quantum™ application carries online instructions on virtually every page. When drafting these instructions, we have attempted to apply a set of standards to improve readability and ensure a consistent / professional feel.

As you are no doubt aware, on the Internet as well as any other media, content is king … and there is nothing that puts Users off more than poorly drafted copy.

Provided below are the standards that have been used when drafting the Instructions that are carried by Therefore Quantum™.

Short Sentences
Sentences should be as short as possible. Consider breaking long sentences up into a multitude of shorter sentences.
Simple / Non-Technical Language
Always attempt to use language that is as simple and non-technical as possible.

If in doubt, request your target audience to review your copy and to feedback to you with any words or sentences that they do not understand.
Factually Correct
Ensure that descriptive text is factually correct.
Superfluous Text
Superfluous text should be eliminated.
Spelling and Grammar
Descriptive text must be grammatically correct and free of spelling errors.
Trade Marks and Registered Phrases
Trade Marks and Registered phrases etc. must be marked accordingly (i.e. must carry the appropriate ™ or ®).
Capitalizing Text
Descriptive text must be correctly capitalized.
Correctly punctuated copy is easier to read than poorly punctuated copy. It is therefore imperative that the copy you utilize is correctly punctuated.

Be sparing with exclamation marks. Most of us use them too frequently!J

It’s always a good idea to have as many people as possible proof read your copy. To achieve a consistent writing style across all of your content, it is really useful to have a consistent set of proof readers. 

Should your copy be technical in nature, it’s best to ask someone who is unfamiliar with the technical aspects of your subject to be on your proof reading team. Allow your non-technical proof reader to point out sentences that they don’t understand. Sentences identified as being "complex" must then be redrafted until your non-technical proof reader declares them easily understood.

Really important documents will need to be proof read any number of times. I have revised some documents up to a dozen times before declaring them fit for "putting out there". 

I have always found that it’s easier to proof read documents that have been printed. Somehow paper is an easier medium than a screen … but it could simply be my age that predisposes me to paper. It’s up to you. 

When proofing a document, read it out aloud. Paragraphs that feel uncomfortable to deliver probably need to be re-written.

Try not to use clichés. They don’t present the reader with a sense of originality. While on the topic of originality, nothing stands out more than copy that has been lifted off the web, or any other source for that matter. If you need to draw on content developed by others, ethically it’s appropriate to attain their permission and to credit their contribution.

Be careful about using "internal language" in documents that have an external audience. We sometimes introduce terms internally to facilitate strategic conversation and forget that our audience may not necessarily understand them. A Client of mine is in the distribution game. They distribute goods on behalf of manufacturers to the manufacturers’ Clients. To facilitate strategic conversation internally, they refer to the manufacturers as Clients and the manufacturers’ Clients as Customers.  This is all very well, but they sometimes refer to Clients and Customers in their marketing communication … and their market does not understand the distinction.

Finally, keep a library. Well written copy can be re-used and it makes more sense than always going back to the drawing board. The recycling of existing material also provides your audience with a sense of consistency.

Hope it helps. Feel free to leave comments with any thoughts that you may have on the topic.

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