Tag: Writing

Know the Lingo

I’ve had a bit of time for pleasure reading recently and, being as I’m a huge football fan and it’s that time of year, I’ve read a few romances featuring football players. Great reading for the bus since I pick them up and put them down easily.

But my experiences with two of these books made me grind my teeth because of errors. In one case, I don’t think the author knows much about football, so the lingo was just wrong. In the other, I believe there was an uncaught autocorrect issue that snuck through and it was so obvious, I was more annoyed than usual.

If you are writing or editing anything where there is the expectation of a lingo or specialized language being used then you really NEED to get it correct. True, in some cases only a small subset of your readers would know the difference if the focus is on a small or esoteric area. However, as with these football-based stories, there are areas where many many audience members may have a good knowledge of what should be in use.

Errors drive the audience nuts and you immediately lose a lot of credibility.
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Style Guides

In many aspects of life, but especially in the written word, it’s important to have a common set of rules or guidelines. These provide continuity, uniformity and clues that remove some of the burden of guesswork as something is being read.

There are layers of these rules that stack on top of each other, from rules inherent in the alphabet in use, to those that are inherent in the language in use, to those inherent in the work’s intended audience or publication. For example:

  • The alphabet in use will tend to have rules about letter formation and order.
  • The language in use will tend to have rules like the directional flow of text, punctuation usage and spelling.
  • The intended audience will tend to have rules like how terms are used, which specific terms are appropriate, and even how long a work should be.

Most of these rules are built around standardization. If everyone at least tries to do things the same way, then it will be far easier for everyone to make sense of what others do. Imagine the chaos of one person randomly deciding that they would write their newspaper with a diagonal text alignment and alternating left-to-right and right-to-left text flow. Maybe it would work for a brief time as a publicity stunt, but everyone who tried to read it would give up because it would be just too hard to make sense of it.

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