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    Wednesday
    Jul112012

    Maybe all those typos aren't entirely your fault

    Can you read the paragraph below? If so, you have demonstrated why it is so easy for editors and writers to miss typographical errors in English text.

    This article by Esther Inglis-Aell explains how your brain tricks you into thinking you are reading recognizable words even when they are spelled incorrectly. 

    Wednesday
    Jul112012

    Today's writing tip: What is Effective Academic Writing?

    Today's writing tip comes from the James Cook University Graduate Research School. 

    Differences in speaking and writing

    Effective communication on paper is not the same as communicating through speech. Written communication follows different rules of logic, layout, conciseness and clarity which is not expected in speech. Learn these structures and format, and anyone can write clearly and effectively.

     Good writing and critical thinking work together

    Writing is not separate from thinking: we cannot think through really complex problems and solve them mentally. We certainly cannot communicate to others our mental understandings of solutions unless we use sequential words. If you want a critically sophisticated argument/thesis, then you need to learn how to draft and edit your work.

     A thesis is not your results; it is a whole story

    We need to think about what the reader needs to know, not just think about describing the results. Good writers learn to stand back from their work and see it as others need to see it. They tell the whole story and not just one aspect...

    You can find the complete article here.

    Tuesday
    Jul102012

    Hyphenated Headlines and Capitalization

    Headlines and titles are one of those tricky grey areas where it is difficult to find a consistent set of rules, particularly when it comes to capitalization and hyphenation. Today at the magazine, we came across the question of whether to capitalize both elements of the word "Eco-friendly” in a headline.

    My instinct was to capitalize it in the way it appears in the previous sentence, with "e" in eco up and the "f" in friendly down. Another editor pointed out that in a previous issue we had capitalized “Picture-Perfect” with the “p” in each word “up.”

    Why capitalize both elements in one instance but only the first element in another. Had we made a mistake with "Picture-Perfect?"

    Usually we follow the AP manual of style on such questions, but AP rules mostly apply to newspapers. Magazines can follow less ridged guidelines, as long as they are consistentThis website was somewhat helpful in breaking down the different approaches to the question of whether to capitalize just the first word, or both words, but it didn’t provide a definitive answer. In the end, I went to my colleague — who just happens to be the office guru on all things grammatical. She had a slightly different take. 

    She pointed out the Chicago Manual of Style is fairly clear on this question. If both elements are stand-alone words, capitalize both. Such is the case with "Picture-Perfect." However, as Merriam-Webster points out, eco- only exists as a combining form and cannot stand alone. According to the Chicago Manual of Style, if both words can't stand alone then the second element is not capitalized in a headline or title. So, as luck would have it, both "Eco-friendly" and "Picture-Perfect" are correct in titles and headlines, according to Chicago

    It is worth pointing out that magazines typically take a lot of leeway, more than newspapers, in creating their own house styles. That's fine, of course, but in such cases consistency is critical. In our case, we could argue that we were being consistent in applying Chicago style with the two examples of capitalization.

     

    Sunday
    Apr082012

    English for Medical Professionals

    The majority of my freelance work over the last year has involved editing for medical professionals in Taiwan who are publishing their research in English language medical journals. This has dovetailed into lecturing and doing Power Point presentations at hospitals in the Taipei area focusing on how to improve both written and spoken English in the medical environment. In gathering background information and new ways to augment my lectures I occasionally come across some useful Web sites that could benefit those in the medical field who don't speak English as their first language, but who regularly encounter English-speaking patients (like myself). One usefull site I came across is called simply English for Medical Professionals on EnglishClub.com. It's full of useful vocabulary and sample dialogs covering a range of medical situations.

    Friday
    Dec102010

    Taiwan Angler Goes Live

    I've finally launched my fishing blog Taiwan Angler. I've been wanting to get back into fishing for some time and with the kids getting older, I thought it was time to introduced them to this hobby just as my dad did when I was their age. The site will chronicle my attempts to get a handle on fishing in Taiwan, sharing all my mistakes and triumphs along the way. It will also allow me to research local species and share what I learn. Hopefully what I will end up with is a helpful resource to anglers like myself who had difficulty finding information in English about the local angling scene.