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Category Archives: Errors

How to avoid two common mistakes when using MailChimp

Mailchimp is a very popular program for sending newsletters – mainly because it’s free to use to send newsletters and other messages to up to 12,000 emails per month to up to 2,000 subscribers. I use it myself, as do the people who write quite a few of the newsletters I subscribe to. If you use MailChimp yourself, this post helps you to avoid two common mistakes that I see occurring very frequently (and if you don’t use it yourself, I bet you see at least one of these in the newsletters you subscribe to – feel free to share this post with their creators!).

What am I talking about?

Well, this is what you might see in your email box when you receive a newsletter:

MailChimp newsletter email with errors

Ignore the “[Test]” – that’s me sending test copies of my newsletter to myself for demonstration purposes. So, with email on preview mode, and then when you open the email:

Full MailChimp email with errors

… what can we see here?

  1. The email subject is simply “Newsletter”. Not that inviting.
  2. This is the biggie – there’s an odd bit of text in the preview that reads “Use this area to offer a short preview of your email’s content.”

How often have you seen the second point and been confused or even tutted slightly to yourself? (Note: as a kind editor, I avoid tutting. But I do smile wryly every time I see it and think, “I really MUST write a blog post about that one”).

How do these MailChimp mistakes come about?

I’m going to assume here that you know how to set up and send a MailChimp newsletter campaign, and just concentrate on eliminating these errors. If you need a step-by-step MailChimp walkthrough, let me know in the comments and I’ll put one together for you if enough people want it.

The boring email title error comes on the Campaign Info page:

MailChimp campaign info pageIf you set up your very first campaign with a title like this, it will carry on sending it like that forever, but this is editable. I’m not going to go into ideas for good subject lines here – first off, MailChimp obviously provides a link to some further information, as you can see from the screenshot, but I’d like to take a moment here to mention my client Nathan Littleton’s book, “Delivered“, which has masses of information on creating a good email marketing campaign, including lots of advice on subject lines (he’s not sponsoring this post: I edited this book and I got loads of ideas from it which I’ve implemented in my own newsletter, to good effect).

So, first things first: change that Email subject field to a good, interesting phrase and I’d like to bet that you’ll stop boring your subscriber list and get more opens.

The second one is the dreaded “Use this area … ” text. How does it get there?

Well, when you get to the Design screen in your campaign creation process, bits of helpful text automatically appear in your template to tell you what to do. And one of the bits of helpful text that always appears is this one, right in the top of the screen, and in ever such a small font so that you’re very likely not to see it:

Sample teaser text in MailChimp

And that’s where that text pulls from that displays in your recipients’ emails.

Whatever the design, it’s always up there. Your eye is of course drawn to the main body of the email – the nice picture, the lovingly crafted text you’re going to place into the template.

What do you need to do here? Simply click on that teaser text, just like you would to edit the main body of the newsletter, and you can enter whatever text you want to.

What should it look like?

Once you’ve given your newsletter a more dynamic subject line and eradicated that bit of pesky sample text, this is what your email recipients will see:

MailChimp errors corrected

I think you’ll agree that you’d be more likely to open that one .. and so will your newsletter recipients!

In this article I’ve shared how to avoid two common MailChimp newsletter errors. Please do use the sharing buttons below to share this with anyone who you think might find it useful – thank you!

 
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Posted by on September 10, 2014 in Business, Errors, Social media

 

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How do I display the top and side rulers in Word?

The top and side rulers in Word are used to set your margins, and also any Indents you might require for your paragraphs. They should display by default. If they don’t, here are instructions on how to make them display.

If you can’t see the rulers, click on the View Ruler button at the top of your right-hand scroll bar:

view ruler in word

This will display both of your rulers, and you can use the sliders to adjust your margins:

Rulers display in word

To turn off the rulers, simply press that button again, and they will disappear!

Other relevant articles on this blog:

Indents and Margins.

I hope you’ve found these hints helpful! Do share or pop a comment on this post if I’ve helped you learn something new or solved a tricky problem for you, and do explore the rest of my blog if this is your first visit!

Please note, these hints work with versions of Microsoft Word currently in use – Word 2007, Word 2010 and Word 2013 all for PC. Mac compatible versions of Word should have similar options. Always save a copy of your document before manipulating it. I bear no responsibility for any pickles you might get yourself into!

This is part of my series on how to avoid time-consuming “short cuts” and use Word in the right way to maximise your time and improve the look of your documents. Find all the short cuts here

 

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How do I change from having a gap between paragraphs to indenting them?

I’ve written this post because one of my clients just asked me how to do exactly this. She had a document where the paragraphs had an automatic line space between them, and no indent (because I’d produced the document and that’s how I like to lay out paragraphs), and she wanted to change it to have no line space between paragraphs, and the first line of the paragraph indented.

This article draws on two that I’ve already published, so for more detail, you might want to look at my posts on The Line Space Button and Indents and Margins. But what you’ll find here is a quick guide to changing your paragraph format from spaces between paragraphs to indented paragraphs (and vice versa). Note that although they all look a little different, this works for Word 2007, Word 2010 and Word 2013 for PC.

How to remove automatic spacing between paragraphs

There are many reasons to remove automatic spacing between paragraphs. To mention a rather obscure reason, I produce transcriptions to accompany a client’s YouTube videos. The formatting for these requires that a manual line space is added between paragraphs, but my version of Word adds these automatic spaces as a default, so I have to take them out.

Here’s what a document with automatic line spacing between paragraphs looks like:

Paragraphs with automatic spacing

To remove the spaces, first of all you need to highlight all of the text where you’re going to change the format. This is best done by going to the Home tab, then going to the Edit area on the right and clicking on Select:

select all text in word

Once you’ve clicked on Select, you will get a choice of options which includes Select All. Click on this and your whole text will be highlighted:

option for select allOnce the text is all highlighted, making sure you don’t click on the text (which will deselect it), staying in the Home tab, go to the Paragraph section in the middle of the ribbon and click on the Line Spacing button, which looks like this:

line space button

remove space after paragraph

If you have automatic spaces between paragraphs, one of the two bottom options will read Remove Space Before/After Paragraph. In this case it’s after. Click on that option (and it will change to Add Space After Paragraph).

This will have the effect of removing the line spaces between your paragraphs:

paragraphs with no line space in between

How do I indent my paragraphs?

Keeping the text highlighted (or re-selecting All if you’ve accidentally clicked and lost the selection), move below the Ribbon to look at the rulers in your top margin.

(If you can’t see the rulers, click on the View Ruler button at the top of your right-hand scroll bar:)

view ruler in word

Once you can see your rulers, move only the top half of the left-hand margin marker rightwards across the page until you reach the indent position that you want:

setting indent in word

This will give you indented paragraphs with no line spaces between them!

indented paragraphs

Done! To get from indented paragraphs to paragraphs with gaps between them, you just need to reverse this process …

Other relevant articles on this blog:

The Line Space Button

Indents and Margins.

I hope you’ve found these hints helpful! Do share or pop a comment on this post if I’ve helped you learn something new or solved a tricky problem for you, and do explore the rest of my blog if this is your first visit!

Please note, these hints work with versions of Microsoft Word currently in use – Word 2007, Word 2010 and Word 2013 all for PC. Mac compatible versions of Word should have similar options. Always save a copy of your document before manipulating it. I bear no responsibility for any pickles you might get yourself into!

This is part of my series on how to avoid time-consuming “short cuts” and use Word in the right way to maximise your time and improve the look of your documents. Find all the short cuts here

 

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This is why grammar is important

I just received a sheaf of election material through the letterbox. As regular readers of my blog will know, I don’t tend to share examples of bad grammar and spelling that are just ‘amusing’, as I work with many non-native speakers of English and people who need assistance with their English text production (such as people with dyslexia or those who use voice-recognition software, which can’t always tell the difference between homophones), and I don’t want to make anyone feel bad for not producing ‘perfect’ textbook English sentences.

But I did want to share this example because it demonstrates that the correct or incorrect use of grammar can make a huge difference. Here we go:

when incorrect grammar gives a meaning you didn't mean

Grammatically, the underlined section expresses this: “she was working for her own redundancy and that of every other UK MEP. As now, she will fight for your redundancy and Britain’s interests in Brussels”. OK, there would be a comma before “and Britain’s”, but people don’t always insert sufficient commas …

I’m pretty sure that they meant to express this: “… she will fight for your interests in Brussels and Britain’s interests in Brussels”. If you’re not sure of which form of a noun pronoun to use, making the sentence repetitive in this way will often help, or just removing the other word – “she will fight for your interests in Brussels” (this is how to remember when to use “x and I” and when to use “x and me”, by the way).

All that went wrong was a simple “s”. What this leaflet should have said was: “she was working for her own redundancy and that of every other UK MEP. As now, she will fight for your and Britain’s interests in Brussels”. Oh, and let’s not get into the “As now”, before you say anything …

If you need help with pairs of words or word use, you might like to take a look at my Troublesome Pairs and Be Careful! posts. You might also find this post on the value of proofreading interesting. Enjoy!

 
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Posted by on May 12, 2014 in Be careful, Errors, Why bother, Writing

 

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Mrs or Ms?

DictionariesI got married recently (hooray!) and when I was buying a new camera to take on our honeymoon, first of all I confused the shop assistant by claiming that the camera was reserved in my new name (Liz Dexter) when my husband had temporarily forgotten he’d married me two days previously and had reserved it in my old name (Liz Broomfield), and then I confused her further, when she was filling in my details on her computer, by stating that my title was “Ms”. She’d never heard of this title, or didn’t know what it signified, and so I thought it would be a handy thing to explain …

Mrs denotes a married woman. English-speaking countries are some of the only places in the world where you can tell whether a woman is married just from her title. Women in opposite-sex and same-sex marriages are free to use this title – some do, some don’t.

Ms denotes a woman. Women in opposite-sex and same-sex marriages are free to use this title – some do, some don’t. You can’t tell if a Ms Dexter is single, married, divorced, separated … anything apart from the fact that she’s a woman. It’s like Mr in that respect.

To get slightly political, people do tend to assume that someone using Ms is not yet married or perhaps divorced. I have no objection to being Mr and Mrs Dexter and to people knowing I am married to Mr Dexter if we meet people out and about and we’re together, or we’re signing up for something in both our names, like the house insurance. But if I’m signing up to a service or buying something independently, I title myself Ms. If more married women do that, maybe eventually we won’t have to have people knowing our marital status when it’s not necessary.

Small print: that’s my choice; I respect people’s right to call themselves whatever they want to call themselves. This post is for informative purposes only. Oh and because I got married!

*Edited to add: please note – this is part of my series of posts on pairs of words which get easily confused and was initiated by my discovery of someone not having any idea what “Ms” meant. This is not any kind of (gender) political manifesto and was intended to provide a light-hearted mention of my recent wedding on my blog, plus to firm up the association of my blog and website with my new name. I’m not trying to incite long and heated discussion on gender politics, naming or patriarchy, or get into long discussions on the background to these two names. Thank you!*

Mrs Liz Dexter

Mrs Liz Dexter

Ms Liz Dexter

Ms Liz Dexter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can find more troublesome pairs here and the index to them all so far is here.

 

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Formally or formerly?

DictionariesOne of my readers, Graham, suggested this troublesome pair – I always l like to receive suggestions of pairs to write about, so do drop me a line if you’ve checked the index first and I haven’t written about your favourite!

Formally is an adverb formed from the adjective formal, and means being done by the rules of convention or etiquette, officially recognised, with a conventional structure, form or set of rules. “He replied formally to her gilt-edged invitation”, “I was dressed formally as it was a high-class event run by the establishment!.

Formerly is an adverb that means in the past; before whatever is being discussed now.

“Formerly, for example in the 19th century, social visits were done much more formally, according to established rules and customs. Now everything is much more relaxed and informal, with people dropping in to see each other without having to leave a card in the hall first.”

You can find more troublesome pairs here and the index to them all so far is here.

 

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Phase or faze?

DictionariesI find these two words being mixed up quite commonly, and it’s one of those ones that … I won’t say it annoys me, because I try to remain calm and focused on the sense of the writing in the face of errors, but it sometimes makes me a bit tense.

The incorrect usage is always in one direction of the confusion. I’ll show you what I mean …

A phase is a distinct period of time or stage (“we are doing the building work in three phases: foundations, walls and roof, with gaps to raise money in between”) and it has some complicated scientific meanings which are related to this idea of separateness and which we probably don’t need to go into here.* The verb to phase (in/out) means to carry out a process gradually (“We are phasing in the new hires so everybody doesn’t arrive at once”) and is used in those scientific contexts I talk about below.

What phased does not mean is confused or discombobulated.

To faze is to confuse, disturb or discombobulate – so the past tense is fazed. “I was fazed by the information he was bombarding me with and had to take a break”.

Faze – confuse. Phase – time period or other separate thing.

“I was not fazed when the phases of the traffic lights were altered, because I had read the notices and knew it was about to happen.”

*Oh, alright then, if you insist: in physics, it’s the relationship in time between the cycles of a system and a fixed point in time; in chemistry it’s a distinct form of matter that is separate from other forms in terms of its surface; and in zoology, it’s the variations in an animal’s colouring depending on the seasons or genetics.

You can find more troublesome pairs here and the index to them all so far is here.

 
 

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