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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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Happy fifth birthday, Libro!

Libro birthday cartoonI started working for myself (very much part time) in August 2009 – so now it’s Libro’s fifth birthday!

What am I doing to celebrate? Well …

I’m having a little party today over on the Libro Facebook page … including a draw to win a free Kiva loan

I’m making some loans to Kiva (see below) and donating one to someone else

I’m celebrating the relaunch of my two main business books, with their new titles and covers …

… And I’m launching my new website devoted entirely to the books I write, where people can find info, links, reviews and news in one place

I hope you’ll join me in celebrating Libro’s birthday by popping over to say hello on the Facebook page or by doing a Kiva loan yourselves.

Happy Birthday to me!

Quick update: the Kiva competition in now CLOSED. Alison Mead won the free loan and was sent a voucher. I started new loans to a man selling spare parts in Benin, a travelling salesman in Paraguay and a food stall in Bolivia. These were all people who friends of mine had already lent to.

Kiva is an organisation that facilitates loans to small businesses around the world, who traditionally find it hard to raise capital. You commit from $25 upwards, and you can choose by gender, country, industry sector and individuals within those areas. They then pay the loan back to you in small increments – you get an update email on repayments once a month and sometimes updates on the individual or group you’ve loaned to, if the organisation handling the loan provides them. Once the money’s paid back, you can reinvest it or withdraw it if you want to. I love helping people to help themselves in this way; it feels like I’m helping to make a difference to another small business somewhere far away from me.

 
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Posted by on August 1, 2014 in Business, Celebration, Ebooks

 

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ASCII codes for common non-standard characters

In last week’s post I explained how to insert non-traditional characters into your Word or other text-based document. I promised to share a list of commonly used ASCII keyboard shortcut Alt+ codes, and here they are. If you have a favourite non-standard character that is not represented here, please let me know in the comments below, and I’ll consider adding it.

Where did I get these codes from? As explained previously, you can pick them up in Word when inserting a character (Insert – Symbol – drop down From to ASCII) or in the Character Map (click on a symbol, look bottom right for the code). There are also various online resources that list them, and this is a list of my favourites. I hope you find it useful!

à  Alt-0224 lower case a grave

á  Alt-0225 lower case a acute

â  Alt-0226 lower case a circumflex

ä  Alt-0228 lower case a diaeresis

æ  Alt-0230 lower case ae

ç  Alt-0231 lower case c cedilla

è  Alt-0232 lower case e grave

é  Alt-0233 lower case e acute

É  Alt-0201 upper case e acute

ê  Alt-0234 lower case e circumflex

í  Alt-0237 lower case i acute

ñ  Alt-0241 lower case n tilde

ô  Alt-0244 lower case o circumflex

õ Alt-0245 lower case o tilde

ö Alt-0246 lower case o diaeresis

ø  Alt-0248 lower case o stroke

ð  Alt-0240 lower case eth

Р Alt-0208 upper case eth

þ  Alt-0254 lower case thorn

Þ  Alt-0222 upper case thorn

ß  Alt-0223 lower case sharp

× Alt-158 multiplication symbol

÷ Alt-246 division symbol

Note: there is no ASCII code for a tick / check mark – you need to use Wingdings2 and a P in Word, not sure how people manage it elsewhere (add a comment if you know how to do this).

If you would like to suggest additions or would like to comment on this post in general, please do – also do consider sharing it via the buttons below.

Related posts on this blog:

how to insert non-traditional characters

 
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Posted by on July 30, 2014 in Language use, Short cuts, Word, Writing

 

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How to insert non-standard English characters into almost any text

text including eth and thorn in wordToday we’re going to learn how to insert non-standard English characters into Word and pretty well anywhere else where you might want to type some text.

What do I mean by non-standard English characters? I mean those characters that do not appear in a standard English alphabet, i.e. diacritics (letters with accents that you find in most European accents) and additional letters you don’t find in English, such as the eth and thorn found in Icelandic.

I’ll show you how to insert these in Word in a couple of different ways, and then share the best and most simple universal way to create these characters, as well as the special codes for some of my favourites.

Why would I want to type non-standard characters?

There are many reasons why you might want to type non-standard characters in your English documents / text / fields / whatever. Here are some of the reasons why I’ve done this myself:

  • As a cataloguer (and this is where I learnt about them and memorised some of the codes), I was required to catalogue in different languages, or enter people’s names which had accents on various letters into author fields.
  • I have a client called Jörg. He has to spell it Joerg in his email address and email signature. I prefer to be polite and spell it in the correct way when I email him and say “Hello Jörg”.
  • I’ve just been to Iceland. If I’m talking about places I’ve been or things I’ve read, I want to be able to use the full range of Icelandic letters – and they have two extra ones that we don’t use (nowadays) in English.
  • I work with bibliographies which might include non-English words with accents, etc. – if I need to add something or make a correction, it’s handy to know how to add the correct characters.

In many of these cases, I’m typing in a Tweet, a special piece of software or an email, as well as using Word for some of them. Many people know how to insert special characters in Word, but not everyone knows about the codes that you can use to pepper all of your communications with nice non-standard characters.

I’ll talk about Word first, and then broaden things out.

How do I insert special characters into my Word document?

There are two ways to insert special characters into a Word document. If you know the Alt-code for the letter, you can just hit Alt and a special four-figure number. More about that later on.

The official way is to Insert Character. This is how you do it (this works for all versions of Word for PC).

When you get to the place where you want to insert your special character, in this case an é at the end of café, go to the Insert tab (or menu in Word 2003) and choose Symbol from the Symbols area on the right:

Insert symbol word

When you press the Symbol button, a selection of commonly used symbols will appear (this will give you symbols that you’ve recently used; however, it will carefully offer you a range of popular ones if you’ve not used this method to insert very many symbols in the past). The one I want isn’t there:inserting symbols

 

You can now click on More Symbols to bring up the whole range:

More symbols in wordAt this point, a box including lots of symbols and special characters will pop up:

choice of symbols in word

You can now scroll down to find your symbol. Most of the common ones are on this default list. Here’s my acute e …

Selecting a symbol in word

And once I’ve pressed the Insert button, it will appear in my text.

It’s worth noting at this stage that a list of your recently viewed symbols is displayed in this window, and you can click on any of those and insert them in the same way. Word populates this with common symbols if you haven’t used this method to insert many symbols before (I personally use a different method), but as you use different ones, they will appear here and on that pop-up that appears when you initially click on Symbol (see above):

recently viewed symbols

One more thing to note before we press Insert: this screen also displays character codes. These are codes that you can use in conjunction with other codes and keys, including the Alt key method that I mentioned above. Drop down the arrow by From to get to ASCII and you will find a very useful four-figure code that you can use with Alt to insert non-standard characters into anywhere, not just Word.

Symbol codes

So, that’s how you insert a non-standard character in Word. What if you want to put one in Facebook, Twitter, etc?

How to use the character map on your computer to insert special characters

There is a character map on your computer that you can use to insert special, non-standard characters into any typing that you’re doing that will support these. Note that this works for a PC.

How do you access the character map? Hit the Start button in the bottom left-hand corner of your screen (in Windows 95 onwards and Windows 8.1, Windows 8 doesn’t have one but you can use the Win-R shortcut below), then choose Accessories / System Tools / Character Map:

Character map

You can also use this handy shortcut: Hit the Windows button on your keyboard and R together

windows key

or the Start button and Run and type Charmap into the box that appears:

Run charmap

However you get to it, you should see the character map, which looks like this:

character map

This looks a lot like the map in Word, and works in a similar but not identical way. Find the character you want, scrolling down or changing font if necessary. Click on it until it is highlighted (pops out of the box as below). Press Select and it will appear in the Characters to copy box below the grid.

character map select character

Once it’s been Selected, you will need to Copy it by pressing the Copy button (note: this means that you can select several characters in a row, if you have two non-traditional characters next to each other, for example). Copy will copy everything in the Characters to copy box.

character map copy

Note also here that in the bottom right you are given the keystroke or ASCII code Alt+0233 which you can use as a keyboard shortcut (more on that again later).

Once you’ve copied your character, you can paste it into pretty much any text box you want to, here in Twitter:

Inserting character into Twitter

 Using ASCII codes / keyboard shortcuts / Alt+ to insert special characters

The way I insert special and non-standard characters is to use these Alt+ ASCII keyboard shortcut codes that I’ve been mentioning all the way through this post. Hit Alt-0233 and you’ll get an é without having to click all over the screen, copy and paste. There’s a code for almost every character you could think of.

How do I know a load of these off by heart? Because I used to be a cataloguer at a library, and one of the things I did was catalogue foreign language publications, which were full of diacritics and non-standard characters. So, every day I would end up needing to insert many of these characfers into the cataloguing program we used. I, and everyone else, had little handwritten notes of the ones we used regularly. Here’s mine (yes, when I left the library in December 2011 to do this Libro stuff and blogging full time, I took my little bit of paper with me):

Alt+ codes notes

So there’s a little bit of Liz history you weren’t expecting (ignore the MARC codes at the bottom unless you’re a librarian, too). You, too, can have a bit of paper like this if you use non-traditional characters a lot – or you’ll commit them to memory, as I ended up doing.

How can I find out the ASCII codes for special characters?

You can use one of the two methods I describe above:

  • In Word: Insert – Symbol, drop down From to change it to ASCII and note the Character code
  • In Character Map: click on the symbol and look at the bottom right of the dialog box

or you can search for it online …

In this post, we’ve learned why we might use special characters and how to insert special characters in Word, Twitter, Facebook and any other places that you might want to insert text. If you liked this or found it useful, do please comment below and/or use the sharing buttons to share it! Thank you!

Related posts on this blog:

ASCII codes for common special characters

 
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Posted by on July 23, 2014 in Short cuts, Word, Writing

 

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Introducing my new business titles: Running a Successful Business After the Start-up Phase and Your Guide to Starting and Building your Business

Liz with her new books

Liz with her new books

It’s time to tell the world: I have two new books out, and I’m pleased to share the news with my readers and subscribers.

Running a Successful Business After the Start-up Phase: Who are you Calling Mature?” is a look at what happens next. Following on from “How I Survived my First Year of Full-Time Self-Employment: Going it Alone at 40“, it shares what I’ve learned about optimising your customer base (including saying no to prospective new business), optimising your income, keeping that vital work-life balance, and blogging and the use of social media to build awareness and grow your business. It’s had some good feedback both personally and on its Amazon review page and I’m really pleased to be able to help people further along their journey through the wonderful world of self-employment and running a small business.

You can buy the print or e-book version from Amazon – you can go straight to Amazon UK, or see the book’s web page for links to the other international Amazons, and buy in different formats including pdf and for Kobo at Smashwords.

I decided to put “Your Guide to Starting and Building your Business” together to offer a low-cost option for people who want to read both books. It’s on e-book only at the moment, and is an omnibus made up for “How I Survived my First Year of Full-Time Self-Employment” and “Running a Successful Business after the Start-up Phase” which takes you right through from how to decide whether to go self-employed, taking the first steps, perhaps while working in a day job, setting up your business, getting your first customers, working out which customers to continue working with, using blogging and social media platforms and getting your life back while running a successful business. I really do write this blog and these books to help people, so I’m really pleased to be able to put this package together at a decent price, and it’s so great when I hear how I have helped people!

You can buy the e-book only omnibus from Amazon UK and other versions of Amazon (see list of links), and for all e-book formats, from Smashwords.

Thank you to everyone who’s supported me in my writing efforts – I’m so glad when I hear how I’ve helped people, and hope that I can continue to do so for many years to come. Watch this space for my new venture – an editors’ version of the two books and a workbook to go with both sets of books, based on the mentoring I’ve been doing with some industry colleagues this year.

If you’re interested in how I got to this point, do pop over to my Adventures in Reading, Writing and Working From Home blog, where I talk more personally about writing the books and choosing (and tweaking) their titles.

And you can find info on all of my books on the Liz Broomfield Books website!

 
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Posted by on May 31, 2014 in Business, Ebooks, Uncategorized, Writing

 

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Do I need editing or proofreading?

Do I need editing or proofreading - pens and inkNew authors who come to me for editing or proofreading services are often confused about the difference between the two. This is probably because what we in the business call ‘editing’ is called ‘proofreading’ in the outside world. But they are two different things, and this article aims to help you to choose which service you need.

Do you need line / copy editing, substantive editing or proofreading services? Read on to find out the difference and work out whether you need to ask your editor (whether that’s me or somebody else) for proofreading or editing?

What is editing?

Editing is all about the words and content of your book – not its layout and presentation.

Editing is usually done in Word, using the Track Changes feature so that your editor can mark up suggested deletions, additions and changes, as well as making comments about various aspects of the text, and you can see exactly what they’re suggesting and choose whether you accept or reject the changes.

What is line editing / copy-editing / editing?

Line editing, or straight editing (which most people think of as ‘proofreading’ is done, as I said, in a Word document version of your book.

It covers identification and resolution of:

  • typos
  • spelling mistakes
  • punctuation
  • grammar
  • sentence structure (repetitive structures, etc.)
  • wording (repetitive word use, etc.)
  • consistent spelling / hyphenation / capitalisation throughout the text
  • comments where wording is unclear and suggestions about changes

Ask for editing / line editing if … your book has been written by you and you’ve gone over it at least once yourself, and had your beta readers read the book for flow, characters, plot, etc. It’s the stage before preparing the book for publication and will make sure that everything’s correct and consistent as far as it can be.

Note that in English, many of these areas do not have a strict right or wrong, especially in terms of capitalisation and even some spellings, and things like use of -ise- and -ize- spellings. Your editor should create a style sheet for the project, which lists the editing system they use (e.g. Oxford, Chicago Manual of Style etc.) and any choices they made within the text.

What is substantive editing?

Substantive editing means your editor digs around in the very substance of the book, looking at aspects such as:

  • Characterisation
  • Plot
  • Flow
  • Timelines
  • Missing or repetitive sections

Your editor will typically go through and mark up with comments, they may also produce a report on the book as a whole with suggestions for changes – which may be major or minor

Ask for substantive editing if … this is your first novel, you haven’t had it beta-read yet, it’s a long and complicated work and/or you need a thorough going-through of the book. This will often be more expensive than line-editing, and it doesn’t include the items listed under line-editing – it’s hard for an editor to see the wood AND the trees at the same time, so if you have a substantive edit, you will probably need a line edit at some stage, too.

What is proofreading?

Proofreading is generally done just before the book is published (in print or electronic form). It concentrates on the look and layout of the book more than its content (this is why you have an edit done first, then a proofread).

Proofreading is carried out on the final form of a book, often a pdf or maybe a printed version, and the mark-up will be done using pdf marking-up software or pencil marks in your print copy.

Proofreading covers identification and resolution of:

  • Book layout – does each chapter start on a right-hand page in the print version?
  • Page numbers and headers – do the page numbers run consecutively? Do running headers reference the appropriate chapter title? Are footers correct?
  • Contents pages and indexes – does the contents page include the correct page numbers for each chapter start?
  • Page layout – are there any odd gaps on the pages, is there a heading on one page and its paragraph on the next? Are any illustrations correctly placed and referenced? Are any footnotes correctly laid out?
  • Paragraph layout – are three any odd gaps or spaces between paragraphs? Have words that belong in the same paragraph got separated? Are all paragraphs in the appropriately sized font?
  • Consistency – a final check that numbers, dates, heading styles, hyphenation etc are consistent (using the style sheet that the editor created as a guide)

It would be extremely difficult to do a full edit at proofreading stage because, as with line and substantive editing, your editor/proofreader is looking for different things. It is also best to have a different person do your proofread than the person who edited your book – for the same reason that no one can really edit their own work: they will be too familiar with the text and are more likely to miss errors.

So do I need an editor or a proofreader?

This is the basic order in which the process goes:

  1. Write the book – author
  2. Edit the book – author
  3. Substantive edit – by an editor
  4. Edit the book based on the substantive edit – author
  5. Beta read – friends, family, other people in your industry / genre
  6. Edit the book based on the beta read – author
  7. Line edit / edit / copy-edit – by an editor
  8. Edit the book based on the line edit
  9. Prepare book for publication – author or book designer / formatter / both
  10. Proofread – by a proofreader
  11. Edit the book based on the proofread (may need to go back to designer / formatter)
  12. Publish

Other resources on this blog:

Copyediting and proofreading

Working with track changes

Proofreading as a career

If you’ve enjoyed this article and found it useful, please share it using the buttons below.

 
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Posted by on May 22, 2014 in Copyediting, proofreading, Word, Writing

 

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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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