OUR BLOG

The Copy Corner: Grammar You Don’t Know You Know

When you read this sentence, do you see anything wrong with it? Tommy sat in Sara’s red, tiny car. Sounds a little strange, doesn’t it? But do you know why? Unwritten Grammar Rules You’re likely sitting there thinking that, while you’re not sure why, it just doesn’t sound right. Author Mark Forsyth explains why in a quote from his book, The Elements of Eloquence. The quote went viral when BBC Culture’s editor, Matthew Anderson, tweeted it on September 3: Adjectives in English absolutely have to be in this order: opinion-size-age-shape-colour-origin-material-purpose Noun. So you can have a lovely little old rectangular green French silver whittling knife. But if you mess with that order in the slightest, you’ll sound like a maniac. It’s an odd thing that every English speaker uses that list, but almost none of us could write it out. And it’s totally true. Try it. Look at something in the room with you right now. Try to explain it in a way that doesn’t follow that order. Currently, sitting on my desk is a large bright yellow Norcom spiral notebook. I can’t say that it’s a “yellow bright large spiral Norcom notebook” because it sounds as though I’m just Read more…

The Copy Corner: Oxford English Dictionary Adds Made-Up Words

Every few months, the Oxford English Dictionary adds a few new words to its hallowed pages. A few days ago, on September 12, the Oxford English Dictionary added over 200 words to its repertoire. You, like me, might not have even realized some of these words — shoplifting, upcharge, cheerlead — weren’t really words, at least not dictionary-recognized words. You’d likely been using them for years: “Jamie got arrested for shoplifting” “You’re going to have to pay an upcharge for extra fries with your cheeseburger.” And while you might not be surprised by many of the new additions, some seem like millennial inventions you thought — and in some cases hoped — would just cease to exist. Not if the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) has anything to say about it. Fuhgeddaboudit You’ve likely heard this phrase for decades. Popular in New York and New Jersey, its potential origin is the movie, Donnie Brasco. According to the OED, fuhgeddaboudit is “a US colloquialism, associated especially with New York and New Jersey, reflecting an attempted regional pronunciation of the phrase ‘forget about it’ — used to indicate a suggested scenario is unlikely or undesirable.” Clicktivism Many of us are clicktivists, myself included, Read more…

The Copy Corner: Did you know about these punctuation hybrids?

I’d like to think that I know about every punctuation mark (in the English language at least) out there. But lo and behold, I discovered this week that there are quite a few I had no clue existed. The Question Comma The question comma, or quoma, is likely exactly what you’re thinking. It is a question mark with a comma underneath it instead of its usual period. The quoma allows you to add a question to the first half of your sentence without coming to a full stop. I believe Cole Sprouse’s tweet sums up the best way to work a quoma into existing quotes. “Ex: What am I to you (quoma) chopped liver?” The Exclamation Comma Not to be confused with the quoma, although the rumor is that the same people invented both in 1992, the exclamation comma adds exclamation to part of a sentence and allows the rest of the sentence to remain, for lack of a better word, neutral. “I just got engaged (exclamation comma) we still have to pick our date.” Personally I think the quoma and the exclamation comma are both ridiculous; you can just as easily use a semicolon, but you have to admit Read more…

The Copy Corner: Burying the Lede

In journalism — and many apply this to other forms of writing too — the most important part of your story should come first. If it doesn’t, then you’re burying the lede, or lead as some refer to it. A lede is essentially the first paragraph/hook/most important part of your story, article, blog, or page. While you don’t have to give everything away in the beginning of your story, you need to pull in your readers. And most people, attempting to build suspense, actually do the opposite. Consider the beginning of this story from The Washington Post: “On Saturday, from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., the struggle for Little Round Top at the Gettysburg Battlefield will be fought again with hundreds of visitors choosing to be a member of the 20th Maine or the 15th Alabama in a free program sponsored by the Civil War Trust and the National Park Service. There is a catch, however. To participate, the visitor must bring someone at least one generation younger — your child, your grandchild, another relative or a friend.” The lede in this case is that the event is requiring participants in a battle reenactment bring someone from a younger generation in an effort to Read more…

Lawyers, How Will Google’s Latest Mobile Ranking Signal Affect Your Rankings?

Yesterday, Google announced two upcoming changes to mobile search results that can affect your rankings. The first change will be removing the mobile label and the second will be adding a signal that looks for intrusive pop-ups. As you know Google’s job is to deliver and present content with the best possible user experience. If you recall last year, Google sent us all into a frenzy to make sure our websites were mobile friendly, remember? And two years ago they added a mobile-friendly label that would show in the search results like this one:   Well, we’ve seen major changes since then, and a lot of webmasters made a pretty penny making the change for you. In this new update, Google is removing the mobile-friendly label from results but will keep the mobile friendly testing tool and, more importantly, it will remain a ranking signal. The second change has Google looking for mobile results where the content is not hidden by intrusive chats or pop-ups. I can understand why – it’s annoying when I click on a mobile search result and I’m presented an ad or chat when all I want is the content I searched for. Do you feel Read more…

HTTPS Encryption Will Help Your SEO Strategy and Security

At We Do Web Content, we’ve been advising our clients to secure their websites by switching to HTTPS to build trust, security, and increase rankings. Search Engine Journal recently posted a great article showing some top brands using HTTPS and how it can be helpful for your law firm or small business website. So is HTTPS worth it? Let’s take a look at the basics and benefits of this web protocol. What is HTTPS? HTTPS stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure. It is a type of web encryption protocol that facilitates the transfer of data from the website server to your browser when you click a link or type in a URL. The biggest difference between the common HTTP and HTTPS is the secure part. Data transferred through HTTPS is more secure than HTTP sites, especially when it comes to credit card information and passwords. HTTPS and Security HTTPS is mostly known for being an industry standard for websites handling sensitive data and monetary transactions. Your internet banking and shopping sites have been using HTTPS for years to secure your transactions. Of course, no single security protocol can prevent all types of vulnerabilities, but HTTPS makes websites harder to access. Read more…

The Copy Corner: What is the difference between e.g. and i.e.?

You’ve probably come across e.g. and i.e. in other peoples’ writing and you might even use them yourself. But do you know what those acronyms stand for and, most importantly, when to use them? Contrary to what a lot of people believe, they are not synonyms. There is a correct time to use each of them. What does e.g. mean? E.g., or exempli gratia, is Latin for “for the sake of example.” Writers use it to include examples. For example: Birth injuries can come in many forms, e.g., cerebral palsy, caput succedaneum, brachial palsy, fractures. You may be eligible to recover compensation for your economic damages, e.g., medical bills, lost wages, cost of home renovations, etc. What does i.e. mean? I.e., or id est, is Latin for, “that is.” Writers use it to explain more complicated terms or concepts. For example: Caput succedaneum, i.e., swelling of a newborn scalp, may occur after the head sustains continued pressure during delivery. To have an eligible claim, you must prove your case by a “preponderance of the evidence, i.e., more than 50 percent of your evidence must prove your case. How to Remember When to Use E.g. and I.e. Remembering the difference between Read more…

The Copy Corner: Why You Should Avoid Adverbs

Stephen King once wrote, “I believe the road to hell is paved with adverbs, and I will shout it from the rooftops.” The truth is, you usually don’t need them to convey your message. What are adverbs and why are they so bad? An adverb modifies a verb, adjective, or other adverb (e.g., ran quickly, slept soundly, jumped excitedly, etc.). They aren’t necessarily bad. But adverbs, like exclamation points, are a crutch some people use in an attempt to make their writing more interesting. However, just like exclamation points, you should use them sparingly. As Grammar Girl notes, they can be redundant or just simply misplaced. These redundancies or misplacements can confuse, distract, or annoy your reader. Redundancies Consider the following sentence: “The boy ran excitedly to the mailbox.” By telling readers that the boy ran to the mailbox, they can surmise that he was excited to get to the mailbox. Including the adverb quickly is therefore redundant. To avoid using an adverb in this case, you can either remove the adverb (“The boy ran to the mailbox.”) or replace the verb with a more descriptive one (e.g., “The boy sprinted to the mailbox.”). But be careful with the latter Read more…

The Copy Corner: Are you using good sources?

It’s true what they say. You can’t trust everything you read on the Internet. Even if it comes from what you think is a reputable source. Don’t Trust Everything You might be sitting there right now thinking, “But I get my information from academic studies! From .orgs! Those are reputable!” You’re right, for the most part. But… Everything is Not as It Seems Every day I come across a source that gives me pause and I have to vet. You’d think a .org would be reputable, right? Not always. Depending on the organization, you could be looking at information that is: Not always factual (I’ve seen .orgs that look legitimate only to find out that they are sites masquerading as something else. If the person or organization writing the content isn’t an expert on the subject, you can’t be sure that the information is 100% factual.) Skewed (depending on the organization, the information may be one-sided) Search the organization; you may find that it has certain leanings that would motivate it to only post certain information. Studies Don’t Always Show the Whole Truth I always thought a study had to be valid. I was wrong. Some organizations try to buy Read more…

The Copy Corner: What is plagiarism really?

A lot of the people think of plagiarism as copying another writer’s work and not giving her credit for it. However, plagiarism has many heads. So what is plagiarism exactly? Plagiarism is many different things. Yes, it is taking credit for someone else’s words, but it is also taking credit for that person’s ideas, style of writing, and sentence structure. Consider the following rewrites; are they plagiarism? Inadequate Paraphrasing Original: “Having had some time at my disposal when in London, I had visited the British Museum, and made search among the books and maps in the library regarding Transylvania…” (Bram Stoker’s Dracula) Rewrite: Because I had some free time when I was in London, I visited the British Museum and searched through the library books for mentions of Transylvania. If you answered yes, you are correct. While I did rewrite the sentence in my own words, the sentence structure is still very similar. This is known as inadequate paraphrasing. Lack of Quotations Even if you cite the author but don’t put his work in quotes, you may be plagiarizing. Acceptable: Stephen King once said, “Fiction is a lie. And good fiction is the truth inside the lie.” Unacceptable: Stephen King Read more…