Monthly Archives: March 2014

Appraised or apprised?

DictionariesThis one was suggested by my friend Lyndsey Michaels – thanks, Lyndsey! As she works with tender documents, and both of these are used in formal and business writing, I’m assuming that she’s found that they’ve been mixed up frequently in the raw materials that she’s sent to craft into official documentation.

So, to appraise means to assess the value of somebody or something. You often get a yearly appraisal at work these days, and an antiques expert might appraise a table, for example.

To apprise means to tell or to inform. It’s usually used in a phrase like “She apprised him of the state of the company’s finances”.

Interestingly, there is an archaic word, to apprize or apprise, which does mean specifically to put a price on something. I don’t know whether that meaning has continued in people’s minds, or whether the two would get mixed up anyway.

“He apprised his boss of the auctioneer’s appraisal of the table and suggested that they didn’t bother to sell it after all.”

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


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Small business chat update – Anastasia Bird

mugs Hello! Get that kettle on and curl up for another update from one of our interviewees, one year on from her first one back in March 2013. Anastasia Bird runs Jellybean Home Decor & Gifts, still a relatively new company, only set up in 2012. Where did Anastasia want to be by now? Her reply was: “We hope to have a fully equipped workshop and continue to grow in terms of products, orders and advertising”, which is a modest but targeted aim. Let’s see how she’s doing now …

Are you where you thought you’d be when you looked forward a year ago?

Not quite, as I had quite a few personal setbacks, including a house move and various family crises, which had to come first. But we’re not far off. I’ve been building up buying equipment, and I’ve just applied for funding to enable me to buy a wood-cutting machine.

In terms of orders, we’re absolutely where we want to be at this point. There’s the task of streamlining things to enable customers to get their orders more quickly by reducing our turnaround time, ensuring that the quality stays the same, of course. It’s more the waiting for stock that is a big, big factor in turnaround time, so we’re working really, really hard to combat that.

Advertising has been great: we stocked in a shop in Essex last year, and this year are stocking in a local shop and have been looking into different advertising areas and finding the one that suits Jellybean.

What has changed and what has stayed the same?

My hours have definitely changed. At the time of the last interview, I was working all hours, but I’ve learned to time block so I get more work done in less time, to a higher quality. Less procrastination. I feel this is important on a massive scale, because it enables me to have a much better work/home life and achieve the balance that so many small business owners strive for, and it lets me be a happier person and become better at my job.

The passion I have has definitely stayed the same, if not grown even more … oh and I love Twitter now! Haha!

What have you learned? What do you wish you’d known a year ago?

I’ve learned a ton of new techniques, different ways to photograph things, etc. I wish I’d known that Christmas was going to be insane! I knew it was going to be busy, but it was a totally new experience managing so many orders!

Any more hints and tips for people?

Stick at it! You will have times of doubt and crisis, but you can do it!

And … where do you see yourself and your business in a(nother) year’s time?

It’s really hard to say, because I can’t predict what happens in my personal life, but I hope that we’re doing a lot more events like fairs, and I hope we’re stocked in a shop long term, and I hope we’re cutting our own wood!

Well, that sounds like a good set of aims, again, to me. Well done to Anastasia for getting that work-life balance back on track – always a tricky thing, but it is possible to manage it. Time-blocking is, indeed, the key there. And it sounds like orders are going well, and with plenty of orders, she’ll be able to fulfil her other plans more easily. I look forward to hearing how things are going next year!

You can visit Anastasia’s website at where you can also sign up to a monthly newsletter, or email the company. The company is on Facebook and Twitter, and you can phone Anastasia on 01623 620 14301623 620 143

f you’ve enjoyed this interview, please see more small business chat, the index to all the interviewees, and information on how you can have your business featured (I have a full roster of interviewees now so am only taking on a very few new ones). If you’re considering setting up a new business or have recently done so, why not take a look at my books, all available now, in print and e-book formats, from a variety of sources. 


Posted by on March 29, 2014 in Business, Small Business Chat


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How to change the language of your Word 2007, 2010 or 2013 document

This article tells you how to change the language of your document in Word 2007, 2010 or 2013.

Why would I want to change the language of my Word document?

The language that is set for your Word document sets the language in which the spelling and grammar checks work. If you are working, say, at a university that uses UK English, and you use a version of Word that’s set for US English, when you run a spell check (or if you ask Word to highlight errors as you go along), the spelling will default to American English. You will submit your document in the incorrect version of the language. This can really matter if you’re instructed to use one particular version, and will matter more as you move into submitting articles for journals (which may specify either version of English) or working for a company that uses British or American spelling as standard.

If you’re working in the field of localisation, or even just, as I used to, writing documents for the US and UK markets simultaneously, making sure that the language set for your document matches the language you’re working in means that you can run final checks and make sure that you’re using the appropriate spelling.

If your document has come from another country which uses a language other than English, for example if you’re working on a document prepared by a translator working out of their own language, you really need to change the language to English before you start editing it, or when you run a final spell check, every word will be highlighted and confusion will ensue.

So it’s important to make sure that the language of your document matches the language in which you wish to work. I receive many documents to proofread which are set for US English but are for a student at a UK university – a quick set of actions is all that it takes, but I fear that students will be penalised if they use the inappropriate spellings for the context.

How do I view and change the language in my document?

In Word, the language that is set for your document should appear in the lower status bar of your document:

1 language on status bar

From here, you can easily change the language of selected text or the whole document (see below). But first we’ll look at how to add this useful display if it’s not showing.

How do I make the language display on my status bar?

If the language isn’t showing on your status bar and you want to see it there, right-click anywhere on the lower status bar. A menu should appear with lots of options to tick. Any item that is ticked will appear on the status bar – this is also useful if you want to view your word count there.

2 add language on status bar

Click on Language or tick the tick-box next to it, and your language will appear for ever more in the bottom status bar.

This works exactly the same for Word 2007, 2010 and 2013.

How do I change the language using the status bar display?

First you need to highlight the text whose language you want to change.

You might want to highlight parts of the document (for example if it’s a dual translation in two languages and you just want to set one to UK English, or it’s a localisation and you just want to change one column of a two-column original and target language table), keeping the control key pressed down if you want to select several individual blocks of text.

If you want to change the language of the whole document, go to the Home tab and choose Select to the very right of the tab, then Select All:

3 select text

(or you might press the Select All button on your Quick Access Toolbar if you’ve added it there (marked with an arrow on the screenshot above) – see my article on Adding Buttons to the QAT if you need to know how to do that).

Once you’ve highlighted the text for which you want to set the language, click on the language display in the bottom status bar and choose your language:

4 select language

Note: Do not check spelling or grammar has a blue square next to it. Click in this square twice so that first a tick, then nothing, appears in the square.

Now click on OK. Your language will have changed to the language you selected.

This works exactly the same for Word 2007, 2010 and 2013.

How do I change the language using the menus in the ribbon?

If you don’t choose to display the language in the lower status bar, you can access it via the menus in the ribbon at the top of the screen instead. This works slightly differently in Word 2007, 2010 and 2013, so I’ll show you screenshots of all three.

In Word 2007, choose the Review tab and then Set Language in the Proofing section:

5 menus 2007

In Word 2010, choose the Review tab, then the Language button in the Language section, and click Set Proofing Language:

5 menus 2010

In Word 2013, again, choose the Review tab, Language section, Language button and Set Proofing Language:

5 menus 2013

For Word 2007, 2010 and 2013, once you’ve clicked on the relevant button, you will see the dialogue box for changing the language: select your language, remembering to click the blue square next to Do not check spelling and grammar once, twice, so there’s a tick then nothing:

7 select language

How do I make the language appear in the lower status bar of my document?

You may find yourself unable to display the language in the lower status bar, however much you right click and tell Word to display it. Please pop over to this article if you’re having this problem, where you will find screen prints that will walk you through the process.

How do I change the language in my comments balloons?

You may find that the language in your comments balloons remains the original language of the document. If you need to change the language in your comments, see this article.


In this article, I’ve shown you how to change the language of your Word document. If you have found this useful, please leave a comment and click on the sharing buttons below. Thank you!

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.

Related posts on this blog:

How to change the language of comments

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!

Find all the short cuts here


Posted by on March 26, 2014 in Errors, New skills, Short cuts, Word, Writing


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Small business chat update – Debbie Copas

mugs Hello! It’s Saturday and so it must be a small business chat (update) … and here we’re getting into the holiday spirit with Debbie Copas from Norfolk Coastal Holidays. I originally featured Debbie in March 2013, when she’d been going for a few years and had added a second property to her portfolio two years previously, and this was her plan for the upcoming year: “I’m still learning a huge amount on the marketing and social media side, so I hope to have ventured into Twitter and several other areas of marketing. I think this year is more about consolidating what I already have. If the business expands in the future, it will be as an agent for other local properties. I can then pass on all the experience I’ve learnt, to help other owners. I’ve been asked several times already, but I’m not ready for that leap yet!

So, how did Debbie get on with her marketing and social media? Did she consolidate or did she expand? Grab a cuppa and read on to find out …

Are you where you thought you’d be when you looked forward a year ago?

I’m perhaps a little further behind where I hoped I’d be, but I have made definite progress, so I’m not beating myself up over it!

What has changed and what has stayed the same?

I wanted to get into Twitter and I certainly have. I have built up a good following on there and I’m sure that will just continue to grow. I am a softly, softly networker; I have simply chatted to people on there on a couple of networking hours and have made some really good connections. I have a Google plus account but it’s not very active. Google is now offering me a new page to link with my Google Places entry, so things are very messy at present, as I don’t want two pages.

I’m using a web designer to try to help me get through this very challenging maze! I still have the same website, but instead of employing someone, as originally planned, I’ve decided to build my own with support and lessons from a website designer. It’s taking a long time, but I’ll get there eventually!  I stay active on Facebook and through this have met the most fabulous group of ladies. We set up a group called Small Business Support Group and we help each other in business as well as chat about our personal lives. I now have a virtual office, which is great after so many years of working alone! Some of us have even met in person last month in Birmingham, with more meetings planned for the future.

What have you learned? What do you wish you’d known a year ago?

Everything takes twice as long as you hope! Google has changed many things in this last year and I have been hit by less traffic to my website, and I’m sure this has also affected the listing sites I advertise on. I wish I’d known that the winter was going to be bad for bookings; I would have done a better marketing drive last Autumn. However, I’ve done lots of marketing this year, so things are on the up again!

Any more hints and tips for people?

Be the person you are, especially within social media. Don’t try and just sell, sell, sell; people like to connect with real people and get to know the person behind the business. Always be willing to adapt and change things if they are not working. No business progresses into the future unless they explore new ideas and take on new challenges. Don’t be afraid of competitors, but learn from their success (or failures!) and simply be the best you can be.

And … where do you see yourself and your business in a(nother) year’s time?

I will have a new website with all the bells and whistles, including the ability to fill out forms online. Currently I send out a word doc which does bring occasional problems. I will have learnt a lot about WordPress, various Google products and the dark art of SEO! The business has a mascot now, a cuddly dog called Charlie. I hope my guests will have taken him out and about exploring Norfolk and sent me photos. I have lots of ideas in my head to build on my customer loyalty and reward them in some way. I will have a logo (that’s in the pipeline) and new business cards, and hopefully will have built on my brand name even more. It’s all very exciting still!

I think Debbie’s done a very important thing in running her own website but with the support of a web designer – that’s a super idea and means that she maintains control of the content and operation of the site, while having expert advice on how to go about it. I meet too many people who have no control over their own website at all, and have to pay to make the smallest update – I really do think that Debbie has found a good solution there. It’s great that she’s found a group of like-minded people, too – I wouldn’t be without my support group of fellow editors as well as other general small business people. A case study in how to do it, then, and how lovely that she’s still excited by it all. I look forward to finding out how Debbie gets on over the next year!

Debbie’s website is
She’s maintaining her presence on Facebook and Twitter
Phone: 07780 99476807780 994768

f you’ve enjoyed this interview, please see more small business chat, the index to all the interviewees, and information on how you can have your business featured (I have a full roster of interviewees now so am only taking on a very few new ones). If you’re considering setting up a new business or have recently done so, why not take a look at my books, all available now, in print and e-book formats, from a variety of sources. 


Posted by on March 22, 2014 in Business, Small Business Chat


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Growing your business – moving into premises (case studies)

Sneak preview of the image from my new bookWhen you start to grow your business, it can become obvious that you need to move out of the dining room or even home office and into your own premises. I was lucky enough to be able to dedicate a room in our house to Libro, and I work quite happily up here and don’t intend to move out. But if you don’t have space to put aside a dedicated and undisturbed area of your home (or you don’t want to work from home), you are making something that you want to be able to leave out overnight, or you are planning on seeing clients, it can become a matter of necessity.

Here we meet three people who have expanded into their own new premises, and learn how and why they did it, and what happened next …

Jennifer Woracker of Twinkleballs, who makes cake toppers and is one of my Small Business Chat interviewees, has just moved into a workshop in the garden. She and her family recently moved in with her parents in Wales, and her mum helped her to convert the summer house, paying for the initial work, which cost around £1000. Jennifer is now paying her mum back in monthly instalments.

By doing this, Jennifer has none of the disadvantages of paying business rates and rent on a premises, and all  of the advantages of having her own studio to work from, which has made the world of difference to both her business and her home life.

Before getting her own space, she had to work from the kitchen in my home, which meant that she couldn’t start work until the family were fed and all the cleaning up done, she could only work at night and had to clear everything away before she could go to bed, “often at 2am!”. She also had to kick out all the pets and make sure the area was spotless before work could commence. What about now?

My purpose-built studio has everything I need to store my tools and materials and I can leave my work out to come back to as and when I want, this means I can pop in and work for an hour or so during the day when the children are other wise occupied. When the children go to bed I escape to my little shed in the garden and get down to doing the work I love, I use a baby monitor so I can be sure the children are safe and sound while I am working.  My studio is a lovely fresh, clean and pet free environment that is a pleasure to work in, it has a sink with a water heater, a huge work top and loads of cupboards. I also have a kettle for the all important tea brakes and my laptop with Spotify playing my favourite tunes. It is great to have a place of my own to explore and develop my creativity!

John Ellery of Ellery Consulting, a firm that specialises in grant making and fundraising, has taken one private and one government-initiated path to having premises. Why did he take this route? After trying for a short period to work from home, with a young family and many distractions, he realised that working from home wasn’t ideal for him. As he was a relatively new business with the associated cash-flow concerns, he wasn’t keen on paying out an expense for an office initially.

His initial solution was signing up for a Regus Goldcard, which he did in his second month of operation. This allowed him use of Regus Business Lounges across the country (he picked up a free Goldcard with his membership of the Federation of Small Businesses. It looks like you get a different level of free membership these days: do check before joining either service). His assessment of these spaces:

Whilst these do not provide private space they offer a professional environment, a place to go to work to – separating work and home environments – and free tea and coffee. The Business Lounges were still a fairly informal work environment, with sometimes Lounges being very busy and noisy and the annoyance of having to pack and unpack everything if you wanted to nip out to get lunch.

Looking for something more private as he grew the business, John then found the government ‘Spaces for Growth’ scheme, offering free space for start-ups, SMEs and social enterprises through the use of empty government buildings. This gave him a permanent space of his own, an offer of additional desks as the business grew and a formal office to invite contacts and partners to. In his words, “This gave the business a great saving as we attempted to grow”.

John says of his adventures in low-cost premises:

I have used both of these schemes in order to provide myself with a work space, a place away from home that I can go to do a day’s work, with this separating the work and home environments. Through these two approaches I have managed to do this at a minimum costs allowing me to focus use of business funds on growth opportunities.

They both have the additional and unexpected benefit of mixing with other people and businesses in a similar situations, with this network found to be vital as he faced the challenges of being a new business owner. The biggest issue was the lack of meeting or private space in these environments, “However, this is easily overcome through meeting partners in their offices or going out for a coffee!”

Would John recommend these two schemes? “Definitely. The Spaces for Growth is an especially strong and under-used scheme which will be of great benefit to help the business grow”.

Karin Blak of Interrelate has taken a slightly more conventional approach to business premises. She’s a psychosexual and relationship therapist in private practice but also runs a training business providing courses in emotional first aid, listening skills for teachers, emergency workers, etc.

Karin founded Interelate in 2005 but only offered the training on an ad hoc basis, so premises were not a priority. However, when she started to run this side of the business seriously, she realised that something would have to give:

At the moment, any work relating to Interelate is done at the dining room table at home, which now is no longer appropriate.  Having to clear all my work into piles on the floor every evening when the family sits down for dinner is not good and does not encourage my family to realise that this is a business not just something Mum does to keep her occupied.  For me, it will instill a working day rather than working from the moment I wake until going to bed at night.  I so look forward to regaining my home and having to get out of the door to go to work.

She does already have a practice room in town for her private practice, but there is not enough space there for her desk, books, papers and stuff that is needed to run a training business. So she began to look at other businesses and how they were going about expanding or moving. Having noticed that some were getting some good deals on rent or getting landlords to include additional services, “I realised that I needed to be cheeky, so when I went looking at premises I began to bargain with landlords and managed to get a really good deal without too much haggling”.

The upshot of this haggling is that Karin is currently moving into a lovely room in the centre of town with enough space for both therapy and training, and paying less than she did for just her therapy room. Although she had the experience of running the therapy room before, it’s clear that looking at others’ experiences was really helpful for her [as I hope this series of expert opinions and case studies is for you!]. She has some useful things to say about the financial side of things:

The cost side has become more important than before because of launching Interelate and having to invest in business development services, updating the website, telephone answering services, equipment and so on before I have earned any serious income.

Karin admits that she didn’t do as much budgeting as she now thinks she should have done, and suspects, “I could probably have got more out of my little pot of money if I had”. She did go to her bank, but, while they were willing to help, could only contribute half of what she was asking, mainly because the business wasn’t creating an income yet.

Would Karin do it again? It’s early days and, as she says, it was a leap of faith but in going about the process of research and evaluation, she has already made some valuable connections who are going to be helping her by selling and even buying her training courses. Like John, she’s found a side benefit to getting out of the home office and into the wider world in terms of networking and connections. Her final comment:

My message is that I would always take that leap of faith again because a. I am enjoying all so much b. I am meeting some fantastic people c. I will never be able to say that I didn’t try hard to make it work.

So, we have three ways here in which you can expand your business by expanding into premises. You can build a garden office/workshop, invest in various schemes that give you more or less temporary space, or take the leap of faith and trust that your business will make enough in its new home to pay those rental and service fees. All of them take planning, and you must continually check that you’re getting value for money.

Thank you to Jennifer, John and Karin for their input into this article. I’m hoping to find an estate agent to contribute an expert post on this topic – if you are one or you know one, please do get in touch with me!

Jennifer Woracker TwinkleballsFacebookTwitter

John Ellery Ellery ConsultingTwitterFacebook

Karin Blak Interelate


This post is part of my series on growing your business. Read more here and read about my own business journey in my books.


Posted by on March 19, 2014 in Business, Guest posts, Organisation


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Draw or drawer?

DictionariesAnecdotally, I’ve noticed that this distinction is starting to get lost or muddled. I can’t give you specific examples, although there is a furniture shop close to where I live with the rather wonderful advert for “chester draws” (I do try not to mock odd use of English, but I rather like the inventiveness of this one, hence sharing it here).

To draw (a verb) is to make marks on paper with a pencil, or on another material with another medium, in order to produce a picture. It also means to drag something along or across (a horse draws a cart, we draw the curtains when we close (or open!) them); to reach a certain point (“we hope that the meeting will draw to an end by 7pm”); to work out (you draw conclusions); to attract attention (“his miming act drew a smaller crowd than he’d expected”) and various other technical things to do with pipes and sails and water.

There is a noun, draw, but this means a process by which a winner of something is selected randomly. (“We will have a draw of the raffle tickets at the end of the fete”), a game that ends in the same score for both sides or, in cricket, where the match has to be abandoned because it can’t be completed in the time allowed (“The match was a draw. Both teams got 1 goal”), or an attraction (“her burlesque act was a  big draw and the variety show made a huge profit”). What it isn’t is anything to do with furniture.

A drawer (a noun) is the slide-out compartment in a piece of furniture, kitchen unit, desk, etc. It’s also a rather old-fashioned word for underpants, a drawer is someone who draws something, and you can be the drawer of a cheque when you write one. But the main use is the one to do with furniture.

“The winner of the prize draw received a beautiful chest of drawers. I’m going to draw a picture of it for the person who donated it, so they can remember it.”

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


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Small business chat update – Dick Margulis

mugs Hello! I’m going to have a bumper crop of updates for you over the next few weeks, with all of my March interviewees getting back to me and letting me know how they’re getting on within a few days of me contacting them. First up, we have Dick Margulis of Dick Margulis Creative Services an editing (and more) colleague, who we first met in February 2012, and then again in March 2013. In 2013, this was Dick’s plan: “In another year, my wife and I will, we hope, be preparing to move into the first cohousing development in Connecticut. Meanwhile, my business continues to grow, and I continue to learn new things.” So put the kettle on, brew up a nice cuppa, and find out what’s happening in the world of Margulis Creative Services …

Are you where you thought you’d be when you looked forward a year ago?

Not at all. The cohousing project is moving more slowly than I had hoped (but it’s still moving—ask again next year). And my business is growing much faster than I anticipated. For the last several months I’ve had to turn away new prospects with interesting projects that I just didn’t have the time to take on. A few have agreed to wait for me, so my calendar is full for months to come.

What has changed and what has stayed the same?

Le plus ça change . . .

Book publishing continues to undergo massive changes worldwide in terms of who publishes, how they publish, what they publish, and how they market it. Ebooks are clearly here to stay, and in some areas they dominate. The cost of putting out an ebook without benefit of professional editing has dropped essentially to zero, so the market is flooded with unedited dreck. This provides a strong incentive for those who want to keep their heads above water to seek help from people like me.

At the same time, the cost of print continues to plummet, so it gets more and more affordable to produce a high-quality printed book.

What has remained the same is people’s aspirations become published authors. I hope that never goes away.

What have you learned? What do you wish you’d known a year ago?

Well, I’ve learned that having a docking station is very convenient, and I wish I’d bought one several years ago. I’ve updated or added a number of technical skills, but that’s a constant in my life. And of course I’ve continued to learn from my clients, which is one of the great joys of this business.

Any more hints and tips for people?

Still none. People have to find their own way and learn from their own mistakes, I fear.

And … where do you see yourself and your business in a(nother) year’s time?

I’ve quit making predictions. I just take it as it comes.

That last one will be an interesting one to ask about this time next year … it’s great to see my colleagues doing well, even to the point of having to turn work away (I think this is a real feature of a mature business; I am very careful what I take on now and say no (with a recommendation of an alternative) quite a lot of the time). I actually think that there are more people aspiring to become authors now, as do-it-yourself and indie publishing become more mainstream and well-known, and there is a realisation that we editors add very important value to the indie published ebook, although too many do go out with no editorial control. I hope that the family’s move does happen this year, and look forward to finding out what happened next …

Those contact details if you need any of the services Dick offers:

Dick Margulis Creative Services
284 West Elm Street
New Haven, Connecticut 06515
+ 1 (203)389-4413 office
+ 1 (203)464-3199 mobile (site) (blog)

f you’ve enjoyed this interview, please see more small business chat, the index to all the interviewees, and information on how you can have your business featured (I have a full roster of interviewees now so am only taking on a very few new ones). If you’re considering setting up a new business or have recently done so, why not take a look at my books, all available now, in print and e-book formats, from a variety of sources. 


Posted by on March 15, 2014 in Business, Small Business Chat


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What to do when you encounter plagiarism: business content

PlagiarismThis post is for editors who suspect that they might have encountered some deliberate or accidental plagiarism when dealing with content for their business clients, particularly in regard to websites and blog content. By sharing my tips and practices, I hope that I can gather a resource of best practices for other editors / proofreaders.

What is plagiarism?

Plagiarism is the act of passing someone else’s work off as your own. In the business world, this usually involves copying someone else’s content, word for word, without linking back to the original work or acknowledging that it has come from elsewhere.

I’ve noticed that I and colleagues are fairly often confronted with content to edit that has  been pulled wholesale from another (often rival) website, used word for word without attribution. That would be stolen. It’s found most often, in my experience, in business marketing content such as websites and blogs. Note that I have written about plagiarism in student work in another article.

Plagiarism in the business world

Why is plagiarism bad? Two reasons:

  1. If you steal someone else’s content, you are liable to be found out, either by a prospective client who is looking at several different websites in one business area, or by the originator of the content, who may be alerted by a search service such as Google Alerts or plagiarism-detecting software such as Copyscape (thanks Arlene Prunkel for the heads-up; she has blogged about her own experiences using this software).
  2. Using the exact same wording in two places alerts the search engines that something is amiss. It’s never clear exactly how the algorithms work, but you run the risk of your content not being indexed and found anyway.

Why is not flagging plagiarism bad for the editor?

  1. OK, we haven’t signed a Hippocratic Oath of Editing or anything, but it’s the job of a principled and decent editor not to allow plagiarism to happen – surely?
  2. Someone finds out that a site you’ve edited has plagiarised their content. You let it pass unmentioned. The plagiariser says, “Oh, my editor didn’t flag it up”, and the finger starts to point at you.

What form does business web content plagiarism take?

As with student plagiarism, business plagiarism can be deliberate or accidental – or a mixture of the two.

Deliberate plagiarism

I’ve edited web text where the style and content varies so much that it’s clear that it’s come from different sources. Sometimes the client is clear about this, “Oh, I picked it up from various places, it doesn’t matter, does it?” Yes, it does.

On other occasions, I’ve been given a link to a single blog post or article, or perhaps a web page, usually by necessity published by the client’s rival, and been asked to “rewrite this so it doesn’t look like we’ve used their words”. Not ethical.

Deliberate or accidental plagiarism

Sometimes it’s not clear whether a client realises that you’re not supposed to lift text wholesale from another place. So it’s important not to pour scorn or invoke human rights and laws, but to quietly educate.

Accidental plagiarism

Very often, a client or indeed other blogger won’t realise that reposting the whole of an article or web page, with a reference or link at the bottom, will prejudice the search engines against them and lead to their content not being indexed. Here, it’s useful to drop them a line to suggest that they only post a few lines of the original with a link to where it can be found in full. Link-backs all round and happily shared content!

What to do when you encounter plagiarism in business texts

I have a sliding scale of activities depending on the level of plagiarism and overtness about the plagiarism:

Here’s what I do to avoid my clients plagiarising on their websites and blogs:

  • If I find lots of reposted blog content which is referenced, I will have a quiet word about posting teasers and links instead.
  • If I suspect content has been lifted from elsewhere, I’ll pop a few sentences into Google and see if I can find the source. Then I’ll raise the issue with the client by marking the sections or just emailing them to ask if they had permission to quote the source. I’ll then suggest that they rewrite it (or have it rewritten) using a variety of sources.
  • If a client has quoted an industry leader or other person but not referenced where they got those quotes, and it’s clearly not from a direct conversation, I will advise them that they should quote their sources in a source list or footnote or link.
  • If I am asked to rewrite one blog post or web page to make it suitable for the client, I will go back to them and either offer to research the topic myself or ask for a list of suitable resources from which to research it (which can then be referenced in the text)

I will always explain why plagiarising is a bad idea and the effects it can have on their business, reputation and search engine results. Most clients understand the issues once they’re explained: any that ask me to continue helping them to plagiarise whatever will become ex-clients. I can’t risk being associated with this kind of activity, and I don’t wish to be implicated in any scandals, plus it’s against my ethics to promote or encourage plagiarism.

I’ve talked here about strategies for dealing with plagiarism in business texts. If you have any other practices you’d like to share, please do submit a comment below!

Related posts on this blog:

What to do when you encounter plagiarism: student work

Top 10 blogging sins

My terms and conditions


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Forward or foreword?

DictionariesIn the past two days, both I and a colleague have come across clients sending us the “forwards” to their books, so it’s worth me underlining the correct use of forward and foreword here, I think!

Forward means in the direction that you are facing or in the direction that you are travelling. As an extension, it means travelling or moving onward/ahead (literally or metaphorically – “the convoy moved forward across the plain” / “forward-thinking has enabled us to plan the future”), in the standard order (“the purchasing process is going forward”), and then further advanced than would be expected (“she is forward in her reading”). It has additional meanings of the front of a ship; being a bit bold and over-familiar (“she was very forward and flirted with all of the sailors as she served their drinks”); and sending on a letter from one address to a final destination (“When he was at university, his parents thoughtfully forwarded all of his junk mail to him”).

A foreword, which is the word that our author clients were looking for, is a short introduction to a book, which is usually written by somebody other than the author of the book – a celebrity or someone more experienced in the field.

While the foreword might be considered to go at the forward end of a book, it’s a fore word, as in words that come before.

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


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Small business chat – Karen White

mugsWelcome to another NEW small business chat. Unfortunately, a few people have dropped out of the roster for whatever reason (I do try to update people’s last interviews with a note as to whether they’re still in business or have sadly ceased trading, if I know what has happened to them). But that means that I can fit in a few new people into the series, keeping it fresh and keeping you up to date with more and different business viewpoints.

Today, we’re meeting Karen White from White Ink Limited. I always like to meet businesses of about Libro’s age, and White Ink is about a year older, so at the same sort of level of maturity.

What’s your business called? When did you set it up?

My business is called White Ink Limited. I set it up in June 2008.

What made you decide to set up your own business?

I’d been working in-house for ELT (English Language Teaching) publishers for 11 years, and a combination of a house move, stepsons leaving home to go to university and a restructuring at the company where I worked seemed to coincide perfectly to make it the right time for me to start freelancing.

What made you decide to go into this particular business area?

When I left university I went to Greece to teach English as a Foreign Language (EFL) for a year. When that contract ended I got a job at a university in Turkey where I stayed for five years, the last two of which I spent working on a textbook-writing project. It was then that I realised I enjoyed working on the teaching materials enough to want to pursue it as a career when I came back to the UK. That led to my first job with a UK-based ELT publisher, and between 1997 and 2008 I worked my way from Editor to Publishing Manager in several companies, all the time focusing on ELT materials, which I still love. I’ve since extended my editing work into project management and editorial training, and I love sharing my knowledge and experience with newcomers to the business.

Had you run your own business before?

No, I hadn’t. However, lots of my friends had left to do similar things – it’s very common in ELT publishing where so many of the editors are women, for people to start freelancing after having children because it can fit around family commitments so well. Although I don’t have children, I could see that it was an appealing way to work, but I don’t think I gave the business side of things a lot of thought before I set up!

How did you do it? Did you launch full time, start off with a part-time or full-time job to keep you going … ?

I just launched myself into it full time! I had worked out how much I needed to earn, and how many hours that meant I had to work per week. I let people know I was going freelance well ahead of leaving my in-house job, and by the time I left I had some work lined up, and off I went!

What do you wish someone had told you before you started?

Sometimes enough is enough and it’s OK to say no. I have been fortunate in that I’ve always had plenty of work, but that means I tend to work a lot of evenings and weekends. On the whole, I get a lot of satisfaction from doing that, but occasionally I think I could take on a little less work, and have a bit more time off.

What would you go back and tell your newly entrepreneurial self?

Get an accountant! Focus on the things you’re good at, and let someone else take care of the things you don’t enjoy (or fully understand), even if you have to pay for their services. It’s money well spent.

What do you wish you’d done differently?

Actually, nothing. I’ve loved it from day one.

What are you glad you did?

Lots of networking. When I started working from home when we’d just moved house I knew that I’d have to get out and meet people in my area. I joined a local business networking group and met lots of people who I’ve since worked with – my accountant, for example. I also do a lot of active networking with other ELT freelancers and organise regular get-togethers where we can chat and compare notes. Freelancing can be lonely, so having a good network of people to ask for help and advice is invaluable.

What’s your top business tip?

Be nice! The world of ELT editing is a very small one. There’s no point in jeopardising work opportunities or your reputation. If you have negative feedback to give, do it constructively. In the long run that will pay dividends.

How has it gone since you started? Have you grown, diversified or stayed the same?

I’ve diversified. As well as hands-on editing I do a lot of editorial project management and training now, which I love. I’ve set up a company Facebook page which has become a forum for ELT freelancers, which I know people find useful. I’ve also set up another company with two colleagues helping ELT teachers improve their materials writing skills, which complements my editing work very well.

Where do you see yourself and your business in a year’s time?

I’m pretty much at maximum capacity now, so pretty much in the same place in business terms. The world of ELT publishing is in an exciting phase of going digital, so I expect to do more work in that area in the next year.

What an interesting specialised part of the editing world! I’ve worked on some ELT materials for non-native clients, and there’s certainly a lot of that sort of work around. Karen appears to have segued into her freelancing life in textbook (ha ha) fashion, setting up those contacts in advance, doing something she already knew, and following an established career path. I find it fascinating that she operates using a Facebook page rather than a traditional website, but then all of that networking and community-based mutual support really lends itself to the more connected world of the Facebook page. I’ll look forward to hearing about these digital changes next time.

Here’s Karen’s Facebook page for White Ink Limited. She has set up a database for ELT freelancers and also has a new company being run with colleagues.

If you’ve enjoyed this interview, please see more small business chat, the index to all the interviewees, and information on how you can have your business featured (I have a full roster of interviewees now so am only taking on a very few new ones). If you’re considering setting up a new business or have recently done so, why not take a look at my book, Going It Alone At 40: How I Survived my First Year of Full-Time Self-Employment.


Posted by on March 8, 2014 in Business, Small Business Chat


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