Tag Archives: styles

Writing “smart” versus smart writing

An impression of intelligence is readily achievable, even in the absence of significant information value, through the expedient of adhering to the expected usages of a genre associated with intellectual output.

Let me put that another way: You can sound smart without saying much by just following the rules of the “intelligent writing” game.

We all know this, of course. You can use ten-dollar words instead of two-bit ones, and the mental effort associated with their retrieval and decoding will stand in for the mental effort associated with working out information-rich content. More than that, though, words are known by the company they keep; words seen in “smart” content will cue your mind that what you’re reading is smart. It’s just like going to a restaurant with expensive décor and smartly dressed waiters: they could serve you frozen dinners and cheap wine and you’d still assume, at least at first, that the food and bev were of high quality.

But wait. There’s more. Continue reading

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Well Begun Is Nearly Done: Desktop publishing workflow at warp speed

Presented at the 32nd annual Editors’ Association of Canada conference, Vancouver, May 29, 2011

It’s a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away. The three humans, two droids, and one wookiee on the Millennium Falcon are being attacked by Imperial cruisers. They can escape by jumping into hyperspace. But the pilot, Han Solo, is taking time getting coordinates from the navi-computer. As laser blasts hit, Luke Skywalker shouts, “Are you kidding? At the rate they’re gaining…”

And Solo replies, “Traveling through hyperspace isn’t like dusting crops, boy! Without precise calculations we could fly right through a star or bounce too close to a supernova and that’d end your trip real quick, wouldn’t it?”

 

It’s this week, in an office all too close to home. A project is on a tight deadline. You have the workflow and the people lined up, but you’re taking time making sure that everything is set up the right way in the layout… and the source file… As the telephone is ringing off its hook, your project manager shouts, “Are you kidding? We don’t have time for niceties like that! Just make it happen!”

And you reply, “Desktop publishing isn’t like using a typewriter. Without setting it up the right way, we could get nailed and waste hours redoing everything when the client wants to change some element of the look late in the game. And you know they will. And that would take us way over time and budget, wouldn’t it?”

 

You’ve probably heard your mother or teacher or some similar person say, “Well begun is half done.”

Well, when it comes to desktop publishing, well begun is really a lot more than half done. Continue reading