Why you should write with Pooh Bear on your shoulder

A colleague passed me the link to this short but sweet reminder of why we need to avoid jargon in our writing.

Why every editorial team needs Winnie the Pooh

I love this:

All organisations need wise Owls who understand the customary procedures, protocols and practice of their business. But they also need tenacious little bears who are not afraid to ask searching questions.

I’ll have to remember that.

Resource: Business writing article

A friend just pointed me towards this great article in Inc. on business writing. It made me chuckle and then groan as I thought about my website. I think somewhere in the mix I am a “solutions provider”.

From the article:

What’s bad, boring, and barely read all over? Business writing. If you could taste words, most corporate websites, brochures, and sales materials would remind you of stale, soggy rice cakes: nearly calorie free, devoid of nutrition, and completely unsatisfying.

Sometimes I think that you need an outside set of eyes to see how to present things in an engaging way – if you are too close to the topic you can’t always see the bigger picture. “Can’t see the forest for the trees” and all that shtick.

Enjoy the read and I think you’ll be joining me as I go off to purchase some Saddleback leather.

A life of lists

I’ve always been a list-maker. My poor husband shudders when he sees me in list-making mode. Invariably some items on the list get done and others don’t. Why?

I’ve always used my list making as a brain dump or a mind-sweep. A list of every wishful whim that I have at the moment, peppered with meatier “have to dos” and “NEED to dos”. I’ve never really thought about it in detail, but there was always a prioritization process that occurred when reviewing the list and the stuff that never got done was chucked out as unimportant or irrelevant at the moment (or shifted to the next list).

I’ve been taking a course since January that has been causing me to rethink a lot about what I do, who I am and where I want to be going. One of the ideas within the course is that we are constantly filtering the world around us. The analogy used in the course was that a person uninterested in sports will unconsciously filter all inputs relating to sports out of their awareness, however someone who is interested in sports will be more aware of any and all inputs around them that pertain to sports. I’m sure that everyone has experienced this in their everyday life, have you ever started thinking about something and then started seeing that thing everywhere? Did that thing just enter your universe or were you previously unaware that it was always there?

Jo VanEvery recently had a post about planning, organizing and goal setting. In it, she shows a clothesline holding her to do list as a way to identify and focus on the tasks at hand. This is a much more visual and artistic way to manage ‘the list’ than my notebook (especially with the multiple coloured pieces of paper), but I’ve just learned that there is an actual term for what we are both doing. Mark Forster’s Autofocus system is a mechanism for prioritizing your never-ending to do list in a notebook format – which might be more amenable for the less artistic ones among us (like me). Coupling this technique with David Seah’s Emergent Task Planner (which I learned about in my course) – delivers an exceptionally powerful tool kit to organize your tasks and help get things done. I’m still learning these tools and trying to put them into practice, but I’m pretty excited about the results I am seeing thus far.

Resource: Science communication tips

Another year, another NSERC DG deadline past. Phew. I’m already on to my next deadline(s) and hopefully shall see the light of day (and my family) in December. (Reading between the lines here, you may (correctly!) presume that posts will remain few and far between over the coming weeks.)

While I’ve put blogging on the backburner in the near term, because I have so much other material to write, I’m still reading (an important thing that everyone needs to do to improve their writing). Yesterday I came across this great article and I just had to share.

In The Scientist, Grant wrote “Right your Writing“, a nice exploration of how to improve your scientific writing and communication skills (and productivity). The primary focus is on writing manuscripts for journals, but most of the tips are relevant to any non-fiction prose including grant applications. The article also includes examples of how you can sharpen your writing techniques and provides suggestions for further reading (for those so inclined).

TOOLS: TERMIUM Plus® is now free

TERMIUM Plus®, one of the largest terminology and linguistic data banks in the world, is now available free on the web! Everyone can now consult the Translation Bureau’s flagship product free of charge.

Why is this a good thing?

The data bank has almost four million terms in English, French and Spanish. Users can find translations for general and technical words and expressions in practically all fields of human endeavour: administration, informatics, environment, medicine, agriculture, industry, sports and the arts. TERMIUM Plus® records are created by language professionals who keep a close eye on trends in language: that makes it a reliable and useful tool for everyone.

But that isn’t all! The Writing Tools included in TERMIUM Plus® are available for free, public consultation. Among them, you will find Writing Tips, The Canadian Style and Word Tailoring. Each tool focuses on an aspect of English grammar, usage, punctuation, translation, and so much more.

Click here to check out TERMIUM Plus®!

My favorite part is access to The Canadian Style in a searchable format! (And yes, I am aware how incredibly geeky it is that I am excited about this.)

The Canadian Style gives concise answers to questions concerning written English in the Canadian context. It covers such topics as the decimal point, abbreviations, capital letters, punctuation marks, hyphenation, spelling, frequently misused or confused words and Canadian geographical names. It also includes useful advice for drafting letters, memos, reports, indexes and bibliographies.

In addition, The Canadian Style includes techniques for writing clearly and concisely, editing documents, and avoiding stereotyping in communications.
Note: The Canadian Style is available in English only.