Advertising and Marketing Articles Business 2.0

The Verdana Monologues – When Ikea’s Designers go Kabookskik

ARTICLE: I got my Ikea catalog last week, and like many in the design field, thought something had changed but wasn’t quite sure what. Due to the fact I have been working on the Web more than the printed design space the past five years, it actually took me a little bit to notice the fonts had changed throughout. About the same time, this past Thursday I started to see a whole raft of online articles, blogs and business media responding to the “uproar” about the change: Ikea had changed their typeface. Holy Crap!

AIN0809-Ikea-VerdanaNow, while this falls about as low as one can get down the pole of what matters in the world right now, below unemployment, health care, and so forth, it’s nevertheless become a rallying cry, or topic du jour for the design community who despair over things as minute as the space between headline letters (ahem, I do that, too, admittedly; it’s called “kerning”), that Ikea has switched from a rich custom type font, to the lowest common denominator, a type face created for the Internet by Microsoft, called Verdana. A style of type which was not designed for print where the lovely bits interact with ink and paper, but for the cold cathode ray tube (CRT), and other display technologies which have evolved into LCD, OLED, plasma, and e-ink.

The main upset seems to stem from the fact that Ikea has “always been known for design.” And this is true, to an extent. Ikea has always had a mix of super cheap pressed board crap clothed in lovely colors and silly Sweden-inspired names with a healthy dose of umlauts, very cool desk accessories, storage stuff, and some often inspired decor pieces, as well as some lovely high-end “real wood” furniture pieces. I know, my curved desk I’m working on now, my bedroom furniture, my living room wall unit, and book cases all came from Ikea during the ’90s. I’ve been a graphic designer since my teenage years (ahem, the late ’70s/early ’80s), and I always “dug” the stuff at Ikea because it was both affordable, but some was really cool, too. Plummers was here first, and I tend to like their stuff better now, but Ikea really was a fun place to walk through and look at the mix of whacky desk lamps, and grid design flat-packed furniture.

So, this issue with Verdana … well, the problem stems (sort of a pun there for you typographers) from the fact that it doesn’t look as good when printed large as a headline, compared to a font which has been “drawn” to look good at large sizes, letter space (kerning) is harder to control, and because it’s a wide, open style, whereas many headline styles are designed to have thinner curves, and narrower widths to fit better in page layouts. Verdana just wasn’t built for the world of magazines and newspapers. All you really need to do is look at any price that has a 1 in it, like a large $129 price. The horizontal space, or white space between the 1 and 2 is too much, and creates an unpleasant empty space, even when kerned close together. Yeah, it’s true. But, really, so what. Verdana works because it’s big, blocky and seems to be missing subtle curves in places, and sometimes looks like it’s bold, even when it’s not. But you can read it at a distance, up close, and it shouts its readability. Not as pretty as the old font, admittedly.

But really, is that a bad thing? I am very knowledgeable about type, having gone to Compugraphic Typesetting School in 1984, and I also got my start in design with blue pencils, and dry-transfer lettering which went onto art boards by hand. I had my own typesetting business in 1987, and I started doing Web design in 1994. Verdana was a popular font once it was introduced because it looked great at font size 1 in HTML, whereas Times and Arial/Helvetica did not. Before CSS, it was common practice to use Verdana for footers, captions, small type, superscripts, and navigation. And for text on, ironically, many of the design oriented Web sites that wanted to use something other than Times or Helvetica.

Yes, Verdana is a font introduced by Microsoft, and was often eschewed by the Mac oriented design community simply because of that, and it being a “Web font,” not designed for print. Funny thing, too, is that the Mac version of another Microsoft font, Georgia, really does look gorgeous on the Mac, and has many of the traditional type elements, where the Windows version is more blocky. I ran into this when I chose to use Georgia for our company logo in 2000, but when we switched to Windows XP in 2006, the font didn’t look the same when you viewed it at 400%, or printed it at headline sizes like 72 pt. I haven’t looked at Verdana on the Mac lately vs. on Windows, but wouldn’t be surprised if there is a slight difference there as well. I chose Georgia for our company for the exact same reason Ikea chose Verdana, it’s a cross-platform, multi-language, multi-format type face – meaning, you can use it for print, for Web, for PDF, for video, and you can have a consistency. And, it does look very clean and open when translated to other languages; Microsoft did a great job at that.

Verdana spec sheet

Now it turns out Ikea is on the defensive because designers claim they have been violated, betrayed, and that Ikea should go back to its original corporate fonts. There is even a petition circulating to tell Ikea to go back to its original style.

In my opinion, that’s a mistake. Frankly, Ikea is acting in a designer frame of mind, they have chosen to go their own way and embrace a standardized font which everybody recognizes. What many of the dinosaur design community is missing is that many of Ikea’s core audience, the folks getting their first apartments, their dorm room furnishings, first couple living together, etc., are now folks who grew up with the Internet. Many of the young adults buying their first EXPEDIT, JAVNAKER, or KVART, have more experience reading their iMac screen, and MySpace page than they do reading the New York Times or Newsweek.

Frankly, Verdana “communicates” very well with youth culture because it’s the typeface of their generation, not their great grandparents. Sure, Futura or Optima, or any of the lovely Adobe or ITC fonts give us a rich history of details in the hand-making of letter styles, but for advertising, marketing and the sale of goods and services, this was a calculated and intelligent design choice.

It’s a business, not a design contest. In a worldwide depressed economy, anything a company can do to standardize, and become more efficient should be applauded and not derided. Of course, most designers work for somebody else and don’t have to deal with the business issues. Very few are both left brain and right brain enough to understand why Ikea has chosen to do this. The negative publicity the design community has drawn out regarding this change has, in fact, proven the point that Ikea’s designers made the right choice. End of days? Not quite.

Isn’t it a designer’s prerogative to buck conventions and question the standard way of doing something, and choose not to do what is expected? What’s wrong with choosing to use the “wrong” thing, to make the right choice for a brand style? Kudos Ikea team, you make me proud for proving you do have what it takes to be a mover in the world of design.

Article is Copr. © 2009 by Christopher Simmons – all rights reserved. Story originally appeared on

Articles Business 2.0

What Can Brown Do for Identity Theft?

ARTICLE: Companies need to do a better job of policing themselves when signing up new customers on the Internet and through mail campaigns, otherwise they risk contributing to an already serious epidemic of personal and business identity theft. Certain companies are making it a little easier for crooks to get a foot in the door due to a lack of safeguards and common sense. And guess what? It just happened to my company.

I’ve never been particularly fond of the current UPS (United Parcel Service) ad campaign, “What can brown do for you?” – it sounds too much like something that is associated with a bowel movement than a reason to ship your packages with them. In fact, part of the reason I shake my head when I hear the UPS ad phrase, is that it’s a bit too much like the slogans used during the last drought here in California to save water “If it’s yellow, let it mellow, if it’s brown, wash it down.”

So, my first reaction when getting a bill for almost $2,000 in the mail from UPS at the end of May, addressed to “Peter Gabriel” at my company address was a four letter word starting with “s” and ending with “t” and with “hi” in the middle.

Apparently, UPS allowed somebody using the name Carol Washington, shipping from an apartment in Plattsburgh, N.Y., to set-up a shipper account over the Internet using my company name and billing address here in California, with a contact name here of “Peter Gabriel” (why not Elvis Presley, or Kylie Minogue?), then ship dozens of overnight letters to people and companies all over the U.S.

What astounds me is they didn’t stop and question somebody in New York setting up an account for a company in California, ask for some kind of payment confirmation such as a credit card before accepting almost two thousand dollars worth of overnight letters, or do (it seems) any due diligence in checking with anybody listed as a principal or point of contact at our company that we actually set-up the account.

So, here comes the mailman with my mail and a nice fat billing statement from UPS for all the packages shipped using “UPS Internet Shipping.”

Did I mention there were 16 undeliverable packages out of the huge pile this person sent, which indicates he or she was likely doing some kind of phishing scam by overnight letter or some other bit of criminal evil. So, UPS was nice enough to show a credit of $312 on the bill. Nice of them.

As you might expect, my second reaction after making a scatological exclamation was to call the toll-free number on the bill, be put on hold, and then finally speak to somebody. I explained the situation, and made it clear the account should be cancelled, their fraud department should get involved immediately, and that we were not (obviously) going to pay any UPS bill related to this account. The nice young lady told me they would take care of it, commented that the person who set-up the account used a valid e-mail address, and that the fraud department would call me by the next day. I said great, hung up, got on with my day and helping my own customers.

Two days later and no call or contact from UPS, their fraud department, an apology letter, or anything. Sigh. Whatever. Great customer relations, people!

A week later and I’ve moved on with my life, and guess what comes in the mail … another missive from the folks in brown. My chirpy optimistic nature is thinking maybe it’s a “Dear Customer, We’re sorry we let somebody ship packages under your name and then sent you a bill. We’ve cancelled the account and are hunting down the source of the evil with our crack team of brown-powered parcel police.” However, it looks like a bill, feels like a bill, and it’s still addressed to the old sledgehammer himself Peter Gabriel.

Yep. It’s a bill for $53.16 “after adjustments.” And in case I have any other ideas, “UPS payment terms require payment of this bill by June 7, 2006.” ShaTizzle!

Another phone call to the brown people, lovely on-hold music, and then a live person picks up. This person looks up the original call, sees my original contact (I am mildly impressed they have any kind of CRM system running), and then informs me she will cancel the account. As I grimace, I ask why the account wasn’t cancelled when I called previously. The person didn’t know, but she made sure it was now cancelled. Then she mentions that on the bright side it wasn’t actually a bill, but a credit letter informing me that the $312 had been applied to the account. Rather than argue that it was in fact a bill showing $53 due after the “credits” had been applied, or the fact that I could care less about credits since it’s not my account, I just said thank you and hung up.

Again, being an optimist I’m thinking maybe they let the account stay active to try to catch the person in the act of dropping off or shipping more packages. But why didn’t the anti-fraud department (assuming they actually have one is what my pessimist side is thinking) contact me. Even a form letter would have been appropriate. After all, they are wasting MY time, not the other way around.

I also wonder why somebody would choose my company name to set-up an account, since I have not offended anybody greatly enough, and have no interaction with the typical person or persons who would perpetrate such a scam. On the other hand, I do have some pretty prominent news and entertainment websites that are easily found in search engines and my company name is found at the top of every page of every site. I think it more likely this fraud outfit or person chose us at random, or might be going through companies alphabetically and we’re not the first or last company to have this issue at UPS.

Fast forward to the first week of September. Yes, you guessed it … another letter from the brown brigade. Smaller envelope, one sheet inside. Hey! Maybe they are sending me a follow up letter. But no, it’s a “COLLECTION ALERT” for the $53 from the May 27 invoice. “If payment is not received within 5 days, we have no alternative but to audit your account for further collection activity.”

Hmmm. My first call is to my lawyer (who I call maybe once a year to say hello), to say what kind of negligence suit or other “kick these brown bastards to the wall” type action can we take. He laughs and says maybe I should try calling them first. I laugh and say, it hasn’t done any good this far, and I wasn’t really serious about the lawsuit, just venting. Lawyers love those types of calls about as much as I like getting bills from UPS.

I do want to mention that the UPS drivers down here in Southern California are always super nice, pleasant, and even though they are more likely than FedEx to leave boxes on my front porch that advertise expensive electronics are inside, they do a good job. I asked the FedEx driver about leaving boxes marked “20-inch LCD Monitor” on doorsteps without even knocking, and he said “We always ask for a signature with anything that is clearly expensive electronics.” I was pleased to hear that. Even the DHL guy will “drop, knock and run,” to let me know a parcel is on the welcome mat. UPS guys do tend to not bother to even knock and just leave stuff unless it has a “signature required” sticker on it. But I’ve never had anything stolen.

So, I call the new number on the UPS collection letter, and I’m forced to input “my” account number before I can talk to anybody (little bit of entrapment there if you ask me), so when I speak to somebody, she asks for my account number, and I tell her I have an account number I can give her but it’s not mine. She asks why it’s not mine. I explain the situation, and she says she needs to forward me to the accounting department, and I go right to hold music, and after about ten minutes it drops me into a voicemail system where I’m to leave my number and somebody will call back. Oh joy.

As I write this, I have yet to hear from anybody at UPS.

Now, to their credit, it is difficult to verify each and every person who signs up for an online account, but there are simple business practices that many companies (like mine) follow. For instance, we use I.P. tracking to double check where somebody is actually from; if they put their billing address as Texas, and the I.P. (Internet Protocol) is in Florida, we double-verify information.

Other security practices include: When we take credit cards, we use AVS (address verification system) to ensure the billing information provided matches what is on file with the credit card company. When the name on the card is different from the person placing an order, we require a faxed authorization with signature and the security code off the card a second time (we won’t accept any online orders without matching security code), and phone number from credit card, which we call and check. We also check the phone number to ensure it’s really for the card company. And if the order is from Peter Gabriel, Danny Elfman, or Avril Lavigne, we really check everything (we did get an order from actor Richard Hatch once, and his assistant forged his signature … but that’s another story).

If the card is from an international bank that isn’t supported by AVS, we require a faxed photocopy of card front and back where we can see the name and security code. And if any order is over a certain dollar amount, we use other methods to validate authenticity of the person, company and payment information. And, even if somebody completes checkout successfully online, they cannot use our system to actually do anything until a live person allows it on our side. We had one person use over 20 stolen credit card numbers to get into our system one Sunday last month; they finally had a card with correct billing info, security code, and other data, made it to our support area, and were stopped by the fact they still need to have us personally approve anything they do there. Fraud stopped. Stolen card reported. I.P. addresses blocked from reaching our Web servers.

We had one of our own online customers actually complain that we required her to put in her correct billing information because “your competitor didn’t require that.” I pointed out that just because some other company doesn’t care to have security practices in place, we do, and that she should know what the billing address for her credit card was. She had to call the credit card company to figure out what they had on file and then when she put in the correct information in our order system, the order went through without any trouble. After more than ten years on the Web, it astounds me that companies still don’t “get it” about online fraud and security practices, and even more that people who do business online actually get offended when we use such procedures.

But some big companies do have some clue. With many online businesses which provide online sign-up, account holders have only provisional access to services until their billing information is verified, or they do a test billing of $.50 or similar to authenticate the payment method is legitimate before extending credit.

What seems truly illogical to me is that UPS allowed somebody to set-up an account with completely fraudulent information, with the exception that they used an actual company for the billing address (mine), and then let them ship a large number of overnight letters from a different state (and from an apartment no less) without any kind of check and balance in place, or provisional limitations, or payment validation/verification.

Simple limitations might have included: a limit on shipment amounts of $50 until payment is verified, no use of shipper account number from other locations until account is verified or some kind of limit of no more than one package pick-up, no drop-off of packages until payment and account info validated – pick-up only to authenticate the shipper address. I could go on and on.

Another very simple method of online anti-fraud screening might have been to hold for validation any company/corporate account set-up that uses a different email address from the actual company name. We do this here when we get a client claiming to be from an existing company but they’re using a free e-mail account like AOL, Hotmail, Yahoo, or Gmail. Most “real” companies have a domain name that in some way resembles their business name, like, oh, If somebody signed up on our website and claimed to be UPS, Inc., and used an email of, we would double check this account before allowing them services.

It has gotten harder to use I.P. tracking for some kinds of scams, particularly with portals like AOL, where all the mail comes from the servers in one state, so anybody using a email account is a bit harder to track. But we flag these to check too, because of that. Sadly, AOL used to be a pretty safe and secure place to socialize and hang out, circa 1994-6, until they opened up the 1,000 free hours with no credit card or checking account needed. Then it went to hell. If you can get 1,000 free hours to send spam, attempt fraud, or just do bad things online, well then the bad guys had a pile of free account CDs coming in the mail every week from the AOL folks. I jumped ship on that whole place in 1997. Seems I’m not the only one. Of course, you can still get free AOL email.

Quite stupidly AOL also has a number of anti-spam features set-up, like ISPs and hosting companies being required to register their mail servers with the AOL postmaster system to avoid being “spam blocked,” and they allow people with AOL accounts to register any message as “spam” even if they requested it. We had to block anybody using an AOL email account from signing up for our online newsletters because the people would sign-up then when they got a newsletter, they’d say it was “spam.,” and AOL would send a “violation of our terms” warning – but hide the email of the complaining party, so that you couldn’t actually remove the person from your mailing list, that they double-opted into. The only solution was to block all AOL sign-ups since AOL doesn’t seem to have a clue how to manage email communications in a logical way, at least based on my own experiences. But then, this overall lack of savvy is just one of many reasons why people have left AOL behind in droves for the “free” Internet or for broadband connections that don’t suck. Time-Warner really lost out on that whole AOL acquisition deal.

While the above security practices may seem like common sense, many companies don’t follow any or all of these kinds of procedures, and this contributes to the online identity theft problems.

Another oddball is the Advanta credit card company ( I get letters here from them, offering my staff credit cards with my company name on it. What makes this incredibly unwise is the fact they are addressed to the employee, but not the company or HR person. So, in effect, they are trolling for employees to sign-up for a credit card, which would also have their employer’s company name on it. That’s going to cause a lot of headaches for companies since they might not approve or allow such cards being issued, but (without reading all of the fine print, it would appear) the employee need not tell their employer. Can you say “class action lawsuit waiting to happen?” This is particularly bad for ex-employees, too, since a malicious employer has all of the employee’s personal data such as social security number, home address, date of birth, and the like. So, a particularly evil manager or spurned lover could, in theory, set-up a credit card account for the ex-employee with malicious intent. Aside from all of that, the stupidest thing is that Advanta is sending credit card offers here to people who have not even worked for us for more than two years!

Ironically, they offer a Fraud News Alert on their home page about how identity thieves are trying to steal your information, and their Identity Theft Toolkit page proclaims “Identity theft is a serious and costly business! And while you can’t completely prevent identity theft from occurring, at Advanta we believe that knowledge can help minimize your risk and access can help you restore your credit if you are ever victimized.”

So, as you can see business and personal identity theft is not going to go away any time soon, particularly when major corporations continue to focus on shareholders, the stock price, and showing growth in their customer base and incremental revenue. But unless these corporations do a better job of policing who they allow to become clients and develop stringent practices and procedures to thwart fraud — and not contribute to fraud — they are only jeopardizing their potential relationships with legitimate customers.

Hey! Next time you need to ship a package, ask yourself:
What can brown do to you … er … for you?

Article is Copr. © 2006 by Christopher Simmons – all rights reserved. Originally published on

Articles Business 2.0 Public Relations (PR)

Top Mistakes of Online Writing – Tips for New Media Authors

ARTICLE: I am often asked in my daily gig of copy-editing other folks’ work (my company has an online publishing network, and also runs a respected newswire service) if there is “tip sheet” of common mistakes to look for when writing online copy, be it a company bio, or articles for Internet journals. Since there are a number of things I coach or caution folks on all the time, it seemed a good idea to share these tidbits.

Since many online journals no longer use trained copy-editors, and most of the new “newswire” services and online posting sites have no editorial staff to filter bad writing, these tips might help you keep the most common mistakes to a minimum.

First, the most common mistakes I find in business press releases include:

It’s vs. Its: “It’s” is short for “it is” or “it has” (“it’s raining”), whereas “its” is a possessive pronoun, as in “its coat.”

You’re vs. Your: “You’re” is short for “you are” (“you’re not going to like this movie”), whereas “your” is a possessive pronoun, as in “your shirt has a hole in it.”

There vs. Their: “There” is a place (“let’s go over there for a boat ride”), whereas “their” is a plural possessive pronoun, as in “their boat sure is big.”

Insure vs. Ensure: The term “insure” should be considered related to the insurance business, whereas “ensure” means “to make sure.” So you would “ensure people make it to the wedding on time” rather than “insure” they get there. UPDATE 2011: This has changed quite a bit, where even the Concise Oxford now considers “insure” to be an acceptable U.S. use of “ensure.” However, most journalists still prefer more specific usage of each word for clarity. As in “I need to ensure I have paid up on our insurance, and that State Farm will insure the stuff in the garage in case of damage.”

Watch for other like-sounding words – it’s all about the i and e: Some of the most common errors come from words that sound the same, but are spelled differently and have subtly different meanings. Much like insure and ensure, the same problem arises with premier and premiere, and compliment and complement.

Brand Names: Many people don’t understand that certain brands are spelled a certain way, or Initial Capped (first letter of word capitalized) a certain way. And some brands are not generic terms for a type of product. For instance Kleenex is a brand name, not a generic term for tissue. Xerox is a brand name, not the term for photo-copying. Some brands have letters capitalized in certain ways like iPod or YouTube, or PayPal. So, using pay pal or paypal would be incorrect. Wi-Fi is actually a trade name and is not “wifi.”

Consistent Company Names: Too often I see companies that don’t seem to know their own legal name. Throughout a press release, one should be consistent with use of WidgetWoo, Inc, or Widgetwoo, Inc. or WidgetWoo Inc (check your letters of incorporation if you don’t know proper use of commas and periods in your company name and whether the inc has a period at the end or not – and which letters are initial capped).

Know what acronyms actually mean: Many people don’t understand what acronyms are or what they stand for: an acronym is a word formed from the initial letters of other words. A common mistake is ATM, which stands for Automated Teller Machine. Technically, if you write “ATM machine,” that is redundant, and is like saying automated teller machine machine. Other similar errors might be “USB bus” or “DVD disc.” Acronyms must always be written all upper case, “atm” is wrong, as is “usb” or “dvd.” Computer tech items based on acronyms are often incorrectly used, and these include: ROM, RAM, CD, PC, RAID and LED.

Punctuation and Quote Marks: Commas separating a direct quote from the rest of a sentence should be placed inside the quotation marks. The same is true for periods. Question marks should be inside quotes only if they are part of the quote. So for instance: “Life is a lovely bunch of chocolates,” said Jane Smith, CEO of WidgetWonk LLC.

Ellipses (…) vs. Em Dashes (—): Ellipses indicate something was removed from the text and should not be used to separate a thought — that’s a job for the em dash (so named because in traditional typography, the dash was the same width as a capital M; this has also now been carried over to Cascading Style Sheets, or CSS, for HTML, used to specify increments of letter and line spacing). Since the em dash often requires an embed of what’s called a high ASCII character, it’s often represented by a double hyphen. Here, the em dash is used to set off text that defines the sentence’s subject: “My wife the wedding planner — the one who asked me to give this presentation — is not here today.” In this next sentence, the words “the one” were replaced by an ellipsis: “My wife…who asked me to give this presentation is here today.” Also, when a quote or sentence ends with an ellipses, a further period is required, as in: “The world of garp is full of tarp if only ….”

The ellipses is technically used most often when quoting or citing a reference, say a review of a product, and taking part of the sentence or overall quote, and cutting out something in the middle, and that is where you would have the ellipses to indicate something has been removed in the quoted information.

It’s generally considered acceptable in some online content such as press releases to use a single hyphen versus a double hyphen to simulate the em dash, as so: “There’s trouble brewing – not coffee, mind you – around the tracks, back by the barn.”

In traditional print writing, you would not actually have spaces on either side of the em dash, either, but for readability and line breaks online, the space on either side of an em dash has become acceptable usage.

For both press releases, and for Web journalism, some of the most common mistakes are in not actually proofing (proof reading) what you’ve written. Here are some tips for checking your work:

View your document at 125 or 150 percent (“zoom”) in your word processor (such as Microsoft Word, Apple Pages, OpenOffice, WordPerfect, etc.) so you can better see what you’re reading and more easily spot errors.

Switch your font (typeface) to Courier, a mono-spaced font (looks like old typewriter text and not book text), to break the brain’s typical pattern recognition. This makes it easier to catch mistakes, because it forces you to pay closer attention to the text including elements between words such as punctuation.

Don’t just skim. Take the time to really read what you’ve written, word for word, line by line, as if you’ve never seen it before.

When possible, read your work out loud. Hearing the text may help you spot errors you might not see, as another part of your brain might think, “Hey, that didn’t make sense.”

Print your document. You can often catch mistakes on paper that you’d miss on the computer monitor. If you’ve ever noticed an error in something you’ve posted to a blog, after it’s live, and you’ve gone to read it “on the page,” this is same principal, except you’re checking before it’s been published.

Have somebody else read it. Another pair of eyes can be the magic bullet in finding errors, as different people see both text and information differently. However, this will more often find thematic or grammatical issues than pure punctuation. Obviously, if the person checking you doesn’t know what an ellipses is either, it won’t catch that kind of mistake.

And finally, why not actually use your word processor:

Give the pesky grammar checker in your word processor a try. The latest and greatest software applications are much improved from the clunky software of the last century. Microsoft Word will often give you ideas on how to fix fragmented sentences, or replace a phrase. You don’t have to follow their advice or example, as often it’s quite wrong, but sometimes it can make you re-examine something that actually does have an error in usage.

MS Word will even underline suspect words and double spaces to fix. Sometimes it’s just a word not recognized, and you might add that to the built-in dictionary. Sometimes, it will catch an obvious item like a missing apostrophe, or repeated words. If you’re using a word processor, why not actually use it to do more than be an on-screen typewriter?

These tips won’t make you a better writer, as you still need to have something to say, or clearly communicate what you want somebody else to understand, but perhaps these tips will help you find and fix some of the mistakes I see made every day, and how to avoid them yourself.

Article is Copr. © 2006-2011 by Christopher Laird Simmons – all rights reserved.