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Anticipating AUA 2013

Posted by: Jeni Crockett-Holme, Senior Editor, April 30th, 2013

aua_logoMy new business cards have been printed. I know what I’m going to wear. My flight to San Diego is booked. It’s just about time to head to the annual meeting of American Urological Association (AUA)—AUA 2013.

I’ve attended before, but this time is different. Dragonfly Editorial is exhibiting. Samantha Enslen, Michelle Anderson, and I will be on the show floor daily—7 hours a day for 4 days—with more than 5,000 exhibitors and over 10,000 attendees. New shoes, don’t fail me now.

Dragonfly will be at AUA 2013 to talk medical editing. We’ll showcase our experience editing urology and oncology content. We want to raise awareness of our language editing services for medical authors who are non-native English speakers. And we hope to put some faces with names for the many urologist-authors we’ve worked with on European Urology over the years.

But so much to do in so little time! With more than 100 courses offered, our Dragonfly team will take the opportunity to increase our understanding of urologic medical content. Poster sessions and seminars on diagnostic procedures, surgical techniques, and treatment outcomes give our nonsurgeon editors a deep, content-specific understanding that better informs our services.

Best of all, though, are the booths. When I attended AUA in the past, I got to try out a surgical robot, attend a demonstration of laser use for stone ablation, learn how TVT is inserted, and talk about various chemical and mechanical ways to manage erectile dysfunction. I really hope the booth with the 3-foot-high smiling penises dressed up as cops and construction workers is there again, ’cause that made my day.

See you at AUA 2013!

Jeni Crockett-Holme leads Dragonfly Editorial’s medical editing group.

Posted in Medical editing, Our super staff | no comments »

5 tips from a proofreading pro

Posted by: Samantha Enslen, president and senior editor, April 16th, 2013

Red PenI recently heard Sarah Price talk about proofreading on Copyediting.com’s monthly audioconference.

Sarah’s a freelance proofreader in the UK. She has taught proofreading to audiences as varied as the UK Parliament’s House of Lords and House of Commons, Wiley–Blackwell, and L’Oréal.

Sarah told us that in the “good old days,” proofreaders worked on paper, using standard proofreading marks. Today, she explained, proofreading is nearly always done on screen. It may be done in Word, Acrobat, or a content management system like Dictera.

But the bottom line is that the proofreader is staring at a monitor.

Now, I’m all for efficiency. But any working editor can tell you that it’s often easier to spot mistakes on paper than on screen—particularly when you’re working on a designed file. Inconsistencies in running heads, justification, and leading don’t jump out on screen in the way they seem to on paper.

I asked Sarah to give some tips on how to maintain quality proofreading even when she’s working on screen. Here’s her response. [I took the liberty of putting it into bulleted points.]

  • I think some of it is practice—the more you proof on screen, the better you get at spotting things (although, as I mentioned today, the likelihood is still that you’ll spot different things in different media).
  • Zooming in to make the text bigger is a good idea—just don’t make it so big that it feels as if it’s jumping off the page at you.
  • Also, try to make yourself slow right down—often not as easy on screen, but you can force yourself to do it.
  • I make a lot of use of “search” to make sure that things like spelling and hyphenation are consistent. That’s much easier on screen than on paper.
  • And for small documents, particularly high-profile ones like brochures, I do tend to print out and proof both on paper and on screen. Unfortunately, timescales and budgets don’t allow that on bigger publications, however.

During her session, Price also reminded listeners that good proofreading is as much about what you don’t change as what you do.

Proofreaders (just like copyeditors) need to recognize the difference between errors and preferences and make sure that they’re changing only true errors. They also need to pay attention to where a manuscript is in the publishing process. If they’re proofing early on, they have more leeway in making changes. If they’re proofing close to deadline, they should hold back.

Price notes, “Whenever a change is made, there is an opportunity for error to creep in and cause delay, so the fewer changes the better at the end of the publishing process.”

As editors and proofreaders, it’s hard for us to admit that we can create errors in a document. That’s what we’re here to fix! But it does happen. Taking Price’s advice can help us do it less often … if we’re lucky, maybe even never.

Samantha Enslen runs Dragonfly Editorial.

Posted in Copyediting, Resources for copyeditors | no comments »

So many social sites, so little time

Posted by: Mary Dixon, writer/editor, April 15th, 2013

flipboardEver heard of Moore’s law?

It’s a term coined by Intel co-founder Gordon Moore back in the 1960s to describe the evolution of computing hardware. It states, basically, that every 2 years, computers’ processing speed will double. Amazingly enough, over the past half-century, that’s pretty much what’s happened: Computers are getting better and faster at an exponential rate.

Last year, Facebook wunderkind Mark Zuckerberg suggested that a similar law might exist for sharing on social networks. We’ve seen rates of sharing roughly double every two years—meaning in 10 years, we’ll be sharing about 1,000 times as much as we do now. (Scary thought, if you ask me.)

The content creation boom
I’m no expert, but I wonder if the same applies to the creation—and instant popularity—of new sharing platforms. The huge number of people already onboard with social media makes it easier than ever for new sites to catch on—and has removed barriers to entry for new platforms to get funded, get developed, and make it big. Look no further than the almost-overnight global obsession with sites like Pinterest for evidence of this.

The latest platform we’ve got our eyes on? Flipboard, a “social magazine” where users can curate news content tailored to their interests. Last month, the company announced they’ll allow readers to build their own digital magazines on any topic, and share their creations with others. By the way, Flipboard’s already got 50 million users—and counting.

For users, each platform launch is great news, offering a brand-new way to connect, create, and express oneself. But it’s no surprise that these same launches make marketers shudder. If you’ve ever felt like you’ve barely crafted one social profile to perfection, only to discover five new sites that have popped up in the meantime, you’re not alone.

Stick to what you’re good at

Great content marketing and an online presence are essential for brand awareness. But they don’t come easy—regularly publishing content that’s fresh, original, and shareable requires serious dedication. And the more networks we join and statuses we have to update, the bigger this obligation grows.

So what’s a social-savvy brand to do? Our advice: Instead of spreading yourself thin across the Web, try cultivating a strong, content-rich presence on two or three carefully chosen sites. And think before following blindly when something new comes along. Ask yourself what the site is really offering. How does it connect users? Who’s the target audience? And how does this fit in to your brand’s strategy? If you’re unsure if your business belongs on a site—or if you doubt your commitment to maintaining a profile there—do yourself a favor and hold off.

Methods of content creation will only continue to evolve, and at an ever-increasing pace. And if Moore was right, we won’t master every last one—nobody can. But we’ll do our best to keep a finger on the pulse of change. To educate ourselves on what’s new, who’s using it, and why it’s so cool. That way, we can advise our clients on what sites are the perfect fit for them—and then help them get involved.

Mary Dixon is a writer and editor for Dragonfly Editorial.

Posted in Digital media, Web content copywriting | no comments »

Boring writers, look elsewhere

Posted by: Mary Dixon, writer/editor, April 8th, 2013

57520626A few weeks ago, I came across an awesome post on one of our favorite copywriting industry websites, Copyblogger. The site’s always full of great ideas on blogging, content marketing, and SEO. And for us at Dragonfly, this post particularly hit home.

It’s “How to Write Interesting Content for a ‘Boring’ Topic”—something that describes what Dragonfly writers do just about every day. We’d never suggest that the work any of our clients do is boring, of course—if it matters to our clients, it matters to us. But the topics we deal with don’t exactly have a tendency to go viral. (Think network IT solutions, variable data printing, and construction materials prefabrication, to name a few.)

That doesn’t mean they can’t be interesting. There are no boring topics—only boring content creators, the author tells us. So whether the subject in question is painfully ordinary or mind-bendingly technical, as writers, we just have to work a little harder to find a ‘hook’ that will make viewers want to keep reading.

The approach isn’t so different from how we write other types of content. The trusty seven ‘W’ questions of interviewing are a great starting point. If you’re writing a blog post, try choosing one of these questions to explore in depth.

If you’re writing about, say, toothpaste, you could ask:

  • What is toothpaste really made of? Does the formula differ between brands, or all they basically the same?
  • Where in the world uses the most toothpaste, and why is that so?
  • Why do most types of toothpaste taste like mint, instead of some other flavor?

See? This exercise can actually be kind of fun. Take a topic you’re writing about, and think about what questions you’d be interested in learning the answers to. Chances are, if you find it interesting, others will too. Then, do your research. Figure out the state of the conversation about your topic on the Web—and add to it.

By the time you’re finished, you might find that your topic isn’t so boring after all.

Read the rest of the article here, and check out Copyblogger for more great writing tips.

Mary Dixon is a writer and editor for Dragonfly Editorial.

Posted in Copywriting | no comments »

7 big steps for ACES, 1 giant leap for copyeditor-kind

Posted by: Samantha Enslen, president and senior editor, April 3rd, 2013

downloadI was recently elected to the board of the American Copy Editors Society, and I spent today in my first meeting. It was fascinating to learn about the inner workings of the group and to meet the members of this dedicated, smart, hard-working board.

Even more exciting was learning about everything the group has accomplished in just the past year.

Here are a few of the highlights.

1. A growing membership. At a time when copyediting is viewed by some as a dying profession, ACES’ membership is growing. It’s actually at an all-time high: 926 souls as of March 2013. That’s higher than membership levels were 10 years ago, when newsroom copydesks hadn’t yet been decimated by the decline in print journalism.

2. Regional conferences. ACES launched a series of regional conferences last year, bringing intensive, day-long “boot camps” to six cities around the country. (I presented at the DC conference, along with board members David Sullivan and Andy Bechtel.) This year, a new series of regionals are being planned. Tentative locations include Southern California; Las Vegas; New York City; Portland, Oregon; and Washington, DC. Board member Lisa McLendon organizes the regionals, in the “spare time” she has between organizing the annual conferences.

3. Plagiarism summit. This year, as part of our national conference, ACES is hosting a National Summit on Plagiarism and Fabrication. The half-day session is designed to help editors identify and combat plagiarism, obfuscation, and fabrication. Best of all, ACES has brought several key news and journalism associations into the mix: ASNE, APME, SPJ, and CAJ will all be representing at the summit.

4. E-books. This year, ACES is publishing its first e-book: a collection of white papers on plagiarism prevention, ethics policies from the organizations represented at the plagiarism summit, and other related info. The board is planning to produce more books on topics relevant to copyeditors.

5. A new website, a new PR push. The board has made two important investments this year: hiring a firm to build a new website for ACES and hiring a part-time PR expert to help with communications and promotion.  The website effort is being spearheaded by board member Neil Holdway, and the site should launch in May. Our new PR person, Ann Smith with A.Wordsmith, has already helped to successfully promote our national conference.

6. ACES Twitter chats. Board member Gerri Berendzen launched a biweekly Twitter chat this year, which has become quite popular. The eight chats have seen as many as 406 tweets and 65 active tweeters per hour-long session. They’re put on Storify after the fact – the most popular has had 271 views. The chats are helping to raise the profile of our organization as well as providing a forum for copyeditors to talk together about topics we care about – you know, commas, and stuff like that.

7. We’re going to Vegas, baby! And, in the most exciting news of all, next year’s ACES conference will be held in Las Vegas. Woot! I hope that city is preparing itself for the havoc that a horde of copyeditors, released from the shackles of keyboard and deadline, may wreak.

Samantha Enslen runs Dragonfly Editorial. She is one of the newest members of the ACES board.

Posted in Uncategorized | no comments »

Wrangling references

Posted by: Jeni Crockett-Holme, Senior Editor, March 27th, 2013

lassoThe task of formatting references is often dreaded by writers and editors alike because it’s mechanical but highly detailed work. Yet, correctly formatted references are particularly important in digital communications, where links between documents affect journal impact factors and, consequently, a publication’s visibility in the field.

Elsevier, publisher of Dragonfly Editorial client European Urology, recently announced upcoming changes to simplify reference formatting for authors submitting papers to Elsevier journals. Based on a survey, Elsevier determined six reference formats that readers found easy to follow. According to Elsevier, reference styles will be standardized on these formats in coming months:

  • Numbered. Appreciated by our readers for displaying all author names. Once all deviations are removed, this style will be used by 335 Elsevier-owned titles. The style is popular in Physical Sciences.
  • Harvard. Primarily used in Humanities and Social Sciences. Our readers liked the name/date format, which displays basic information without the need to visit the last article page. It will be used by more than 400 journals.
  • Vancouver Numbered. The Vancouver Embellished format will be incorporated into this style and the result will be used by more than 242 journals–popular in Medical Sciences.
  • Vancouver Name/Date. A version for communities that prefer citations to feature the authors’ names in parentheses.
  • American Psychological Association (APA). The only style presenting full journal titles, an option preferred by 35% of the readers we spoke to. Almost 200 of our journals will follow this style, especially within Social and Economic Sciences.
  • American Medical Association (AMA). This style is used in more than 150 medical journals, especially popular amongst Societies.

Elsevier’s journals can also opt into a program whereby authors will be invited to submit their complete and consistent references in any style, and the final journal style will be applied as part of the production process. Elsevier hopes that this change will appeal to authors by allowing them to focus on content and hopefully reduce opportunities for error.

Reference formatting often falls to copyeditors, and we’re professionally and temperamentally suited to such tasks. Dragonfly Editorial’s medical copyeditors already work regularly with a variety of reference styles including AMA, APA, Chicago Manual of Style, and customized formats for specific clients. We’ll continue to work with authors and editors to create correct, complete reference lists that serve readers and publishers alike.

Jeni Crockett-Holme is a Dragonfly project manager and senior medical editor.

Posted in Copyediting, Medical editing | no comments »

Dragonfly joins forces with The Research Masters

Posted by: Samantha Enslen, president and senior editor, March 25th, 2013

BooksWe’re pleased to announce a new partnership with The Research Masters, a print and e-book packaging and production group based in Winston-Salem, NC. The Research Masters produce course materials for K-12 and higher ed clients, with a focus on science, nursing, and health topics.

They needed industry experts to help edit course content, and collaborating with Dragonfly’s medical editing team was a perfect fit. Lead medical editor Jeni Crockett-Holme and editor Michelle Anderson are leading the project—which at present, includes copyediting course work for RN/BSN programs.

We’re always looking for new places to lend our editorial eye—so we’re excited to be helping The Research Masters perfect medical materials of all kinds.

Samantha Enslen runs Dragonfly Editorial.

Posted in Copyediting, Medical editing, News | no comments »

Don’t miss Dragonfly at ACES 2013

Posted by: Amy Paradysz, Senior Editor, March 20th, 2013

aces-2013You can often find Dragonfly folk at American Copy Editors Society (ACES) events. They’re a great place to network, learn new techniques and trends in the field—and commiserate with like-minded word geeks about style pet peeves.

At this year’s national conference in St. Louis, Dragonfly editors won’t just be listening to speakers’ advice: we’ll be giving it. President and CEO Samantha Enslen and I will both be speaking to the ACES crowd.

If you’re headed to ACES this year, here’s what you have to look forward to:

Editing for Readability, Samantha Enslen

When it comes to editing complex content (or really, any content), clarity matters as much as the message itself. It doesn’t matter how earth-shattering your point is—if readers can’t figure out what you’re saying, you’re getting nowhere.

Fortunately, a few simple tweaks can make your copy more readable, like sentence and paragraph length, word complexity, white space, and visual roadmapping. This presentation will explain how.

Editing While Exhausted, Samantha Enslen and Amy Paradysz, Dragonfly Editorial; Cori Dodds, Via Christi Health Systems

Editors are being asked to do more with less. With smaller budgets, tighter deadlines, growing workloads, and constant interruptions, how can we be as accountable for quality as we were in the past?

This presentation covers studies regarding the effects of multitasking and distractions, as well as a variety of tips and processes to get you to focus and pull through tough deadlines—even when you’re exhausted.

In between speaking times, we’ll be listening to some of the dozens of other talks given by the country’s editing titans.

There’s still time to register in advance for ACES 2013. Sign up, and meet us in St. Louis!

Posted in Copyediting, News, Our super staff | no comments »

Dragonfly brings home gold at MarCom Awards

Posted by: Samantha Enslen, president and senior editor, March 5th, 2013

PrintIt’s time to celebrate: Dragonfly received not one but two honors in the latest MarCom Awards.

The awards are an international creative competition honoring outstanding achievement by marketing and communications pros. And out of more than 6,000 entries, Dragonfly came out on top.

We earned the Gold Award in the column writing category for the company blog for Atomic Interactive, a Dayton web design firm. We’ve collaborated with Atomic for years, and each month, we help them share insights on web development, social media, marketing, and more. We love collaborating with them to create great content.

Dragonfly also took home an Honorable Mention for our feature writing skills. Kate Harold’s story on a larger-than-life construction project (involving late-night maneuvers and a rooftop crane) wowed the judges. We wrote the story through Crown Partners for end client TDIndustries; it appeared in employee publication TDSpirit.

We’re proud of our copywriters, trophies or not. But honors like these help remind us we’re doing something right.

To learn more about the MarCom Awards (organized and judged by the Association of Marketing and Communication Professionals), visit marcomawards.com.

Samantha Enslen runs Dragonfly Editorial.

Posted in Copywriting, Feature stories, News, Web content copywriting | 2 comments »

In telework we trust

Posted by: Amy Paradysz, Senior Editor, March 1st, 2013

sam-deskEvery Dragonfly Editorial writer and editor works from home.

Our company culture and work model is built on trust. Our editors and writers build that trust by showing, time and again, that we do quality work.

Just as importantly, we get the work done when it needs to be done. Rather than scheduling editors to shifts, we schedule them to projects, most of which have tight turnaround times. We love when the anticipated schedule turns out to be the actual schedule. But, in the world of editing corporate proposals bidding on government contracts, things don’t always work out that way. More often than not, they don’t.

Some of our clients have onsite staff editors who work during regular business hours. We keep files moving onto the next stage after the onsite staff go home for the weekend. Working from home makes it much more manageable for us to bridge that gap—or even to help a proposal team catch up when it falls behind on its projected schedule. It’s not a hardship for our editors to work until 10 p.m. or through the weekend or during the Super Bowl, if that’s what the schedule calls for.

Even though our clients contract our editorial services rather than hiring us as employees, we’re part of the growing trend toward telework. It seems like a no-brainer. So why would Yahoo decide that all its remote workers—hundreds of them—would have to report to the office starting June 1?

Why would Yahoo ban telework?

I’m certainly not the only one surprised and dismayed by the news that chief executive of Yahoo, Marissa Mayer, abolished the company’s work-at-home policy.

We’re all wondering the same thing: Why? Why would the youngest CEO of a Fortune 500 company—a new mother—make such a low-tech, old-fashioned move at one of the nation’s largest technology companies?

A Yahoo company memo about this change says that face-to-face interaction between employees fosters a more collaborative culture.

Some suspect that the telework ban is a way to get people to quit rather than having a round of layoffs.

Or maybe Mayer wants to make a tough, bold gamble that a telework ban will do less harm than good.

The telework ban isn’t really bigger than Mayer’s other moves—including a website refresh, renovating Yahoo Mail, and releasing a new Flickr app. It’s just more newsworthy. Business experts are surprised by how out of sync this decision is with national trends.

What makes a worker productive?

Talented, hard-working people want to be trusted and valued for what they do, not for how long they sit at their desk.

“This means adapting metrics to focus on results, and linking flexible schedules to talent management and job demands,” wrote Ellen Ernst Kossek, president of the Work-Family Researchers Network, in an article for the Wall Street Journal. “Management has to take time to coach employees, to be clear on goals, and have the courage to get rid of the bottom 10% of workers and abusers of a flexible system.”

None of that sounds easy. Maybe Yahoo’s CEO thought that banning telework would be simpler.

I love my job largely because of the flexibility it gives me as a single mom to give both my career and my daughter the best I have to give. A larger company could offer a better “benefits package.” But there’s no benefit that a corporation could give me that would be more valuable to me than flexibility regarding where and when I work.

Not surprisingly, a recent WorldatWork study found that turnover rates were lower where the culture of flexibility was stronger.

If I worked for Yahoo, I’d be looking for another job right now.

Just saying…

Amy Paradysz manages Dragonfly Editorial’s corporate editing team.

Resources

Kossek, Ellen Ernst. “Yahoo Ban on Working From Home is Misguided,” Wall Street Journal, Feb. 27, 2013. http://blogs.wsj.com/juggle/2013/02/27/yahoo-ban-on-working-from-home-is-misguided/

Gonchar, Michael. “Would You Rather Work From Home or in an Office?” New York Times, March 1, 2013. http://learning.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/03/01/would-you-rather-work-from-home-or-in-an-office/

Goudreau, Jenna. “Back To the Stone Age? New Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer Bans Working From Home,” Forbes.com, Feb. 25, 2013. http://www.forbes.com/sites/jennagoudreau/2013/02/25/back-to-the-stone-age-new-yahoo-ceo-marissa-mayer-bans-working-from-home/

WorldatWork. “New Study: Majority of U.S. Employers Offer Workplace Flexibility.” Feb. 15, 2011. http://www.worldatwork.org/waw/adimLink?id=48294

Posted in News, Work-life balance | no comments »

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