E-mail signature blocks. How to.


Kat Neville writes on Smashing Magazine “The Art and Science of the Email Signature.

Nice work. Too many of my friends and coworkers have loaded down their signatures with every number, every tagline, every graphic logo of the company, in every color in the company-approved brand palette.

Brevity. Clarity.

That’s all recipients want.

Also, if the majority of your email is sent inhouse, then create an internal signature that’s your default.

Name, Extension.

Period.

No need to tell your coworkers the name of the company you both work for, your own Web site, and monthly Marketing tagline.

Speaking of company brand, the pastel colors some companies include in their palette are instant turnoffs. Try reading this: andy gee, communication specialist

How to break writer’s block – the conclusion


writersblock
I promised a follow-up blog post about the writer who was suffering from writer’s block. Today, the conclusion of our story.

“Jay’s” piece went through a 3-level approval process, yet escaped with very minimal changes from the reviewers!

Her biggest challenge was in reducing word count! Remember that her initial problem was just getting started!

Her second challenge was selecting a title. Remember that the title was the piece she was initially stuck on. Our writer’s block breaking tactic allowed her to skip the title, get started on the content, and come back to the title later in the process. (NOTE: seldom do I start with a title or working headline. I also save my introductory paragraphs until the end, after I’ve developed my major points and conclusion. Only then, do I go back and write the opening paragraph. Think of that writing strategy for a moment, how else will I know where I’m going until I’ve gotten there first? I’ll wait for you to process that.)

I read her final piece, which listed three challenges and identified the strategies to overcome each challenge. The piece flowed, displayed a logical organization, and read with a tight writing style. Its final title made sense and captured the flavor of the full content.

In summary, Jay’s final piece came in at 3 pages, about 37 paragraphs, with a word count of 1,440 words.

Success story!

Related posts:

5 Rules for Better Web Writing


5rulesMashable.com’s Josh Catone clearly practices what he preaches when he writes the “5 Rules for Better Web Writing.”

  • For seasoned technical writers, this is nothing new.
  • For newbies and my practicing students who are thrust into the world of technical writing for the Web, pay heed.

How to break writer’s block – Part 2


Are you curious how our writer did on her writer’s block problem? Yesterday, I posted a blog entry on a writer (whom I’ll call “Jay”) facing writer’s block and impending deadlines.

Today, I checked in with Jay and learned the first draft went out to a first reviewer, at a whoppin’ 1,300 word count! Yeah, I’d say the block was broken.

jay's mindmap

jay's mindmap


Jay appreciated the following tips from our brainstorming and mindmapping session. Jay shared that before our session:

“I was overwhelmed on what was important and where to start. During our session, I was able to spit out a lot of topics and then organize afterwards…By seeing the topics in front of me instead of floating around in my head…it made it easier to focus and prioritize the information.”

So, stay tuned for a follow-up post on Jay’s final production piece, as the deadline to production approaches.

How to break writer’s block – Part 1


A fellow writer just mentioned getting stuck in writer’s block. It happens to all of us. So, I spent 10 minutes helping the writer (whom I’ll call “Jay”) overcome writer’s block. How?

I had Jay list the obstacles on sticky notes. “What is keeping me from crossing that divide between here and the finished product?”

why Jay's stuck

why Jay's stuck

Once Jay saw them written, he/she either (a) knew that it was real and had a plan to overcome it or (b) realized it wasn’t a real obstacle after all.

With that out of the way, I had Jay mindmap the written project. In ten minutes, we had an outline of four key points and the four solutions, an intro, and an ending.

Jay had been stuck on the headline. So we put “headline” as a mindmap topic and left it blank for now.

I’ll write a follow-up post on Jay’s progress in a few days. Stay tuned.

Get with the program


I am not an athlete. I’m a nerd. In elementary school, I failed the President’s Physical Fitness Test. In high school, the most time I spent on a court or field was in the stands, playing with the pep band. In my job as a technical communicator at VSP, the heaviest lifting I do involves right-clicking …
getfitblog1
Thus, blending a bit of my work with my personal story on health and wellness with my passion for writing, I encourage you to read my post on vspblog.com: “Get with the program.”

Simplify


(updated 6/2009 with new link to Grammar Girl’s podcast)
Have you noticed how complicated the world can be? Tired of reading legalese? Confused by complex tools crammed with complicated directions to confound you and stake claim to your cranium?

It’s time to do your part. Learn to simplify what others read. Think Readability. Simplicity. Clarity.
grammargirl

Start with Grammar Girl’s post of Adam Friedman’s “Simplify Your Writing.” As author of “The Party of the First Part”, he knows the topic. (And, I just love Mignon Fogarty’s podcasts!)