Creating Content with Shane Snow and How To Write Anything with Dr. Laura Brown

TTL 215 | Creating Content

Creating Content with Shane Snow and How To Write Anything with Dr. Laura Brown

Stories are built into how our brains process information. We use stories to remember things and to convey things that we want people to remember. We also use stories to build the relationships and make people care. Shane Snow is an award-winning journalist, a celebrated entrepreneur, and a bestselling author. He is co-founder of the content technology company Contently which helps creative people and companies tell great stories together. Shane shares how to unlock the power to get better at telling stories to build the relationships in regular life and in business. It’s hard to be that good at writing. Dr. Laura Brown, author of How to Write Anything: A Complete Guide, says getting the little things correct like grammar and punctualization can prevent misunderstandings. Over the past 25 years, Laura has taught writing to just about everyone, from CEOs to high school students. Laura says talking about what you believe and putting emphasis on self-expression is great, but technical skill is also very important and you need to learn grammar and structure to better you can express yourself.

Continue reading “Creating Content with Shane Snow and How To Write Anything with Dr. Laura Brown”

Grammar: When It Just Does Not Sound Correct

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My job has taught me that a lot of people struggle with grammar and spelling. My first sentence brought to mind one of the most common spelling errors. Many of my students type “a lot” as one word, which is incorrect. There is no such word as “alot”. If spelling is not hard enough, grammar is just as tricky because some things that are correct, do not sound correct. I know I tend to say things incorrectly just to sound like everyone else. For example, people might look at you funny if you correctly stated, “that is she” instead of incorrectly stated “that is her”. Continue reading “Grammar: When It Just Does Not Sound Correct”

Words to Capitalize in a Title

 

Bloggers and other writers may experience confusion as to which words should be capitalized in a title of an article.  I sometimes capitalize all words so that I do not have to look up the rules.  But it is good form to learn how to write correctly.  The following rules apply to capitalizing titles:

  • Always capitalize the first as last words of the title as well as verbs, adverbs, adjectives, nouns and pronouns.
  • Consistently capitalize or do not capitalize conjunctions (examples:  but, for, and) or prepositions (examples: words that show a relationship between the noun/pronounce with another word – example:  from, over, around, about, before, behind) with five or more letters.  Older rules required no capitalization and newer rules require capitalization if words contain five letters or more. Exception: If the word is the last word or the first word in a title, then it should be capitalized.
  • Do not capitalize articles (example: a, an, the), prepositions (see examples above), conjunctions (see examples above) with four letters or fewer, and the particle “to” used with an infinitive (example: to do; to be).  Exception: If the word is the last word or the first word in a title, then it should be capitalized.

 

Never have your title all in CAPITALIZED LETTERS because this is not only incorrect, it is considered yelling.

 

Related Articles

Anthropomorphisms: When Not to Use Them

There is a really big word that students should know, but may not.  That word is anthropomorphic.  Technically it means to give human form or attributes to something that is not human. It is popularly used in children’s books.  However, doctoral students often have their dissertations rejected for including anthropomorphisms.

Here are some examples of what an anthropomorphism looks like:

  • The study assumed that people would not be interested.
  • The computer program thinks that the results are accurate.

Both of these sentences should not be used.  The reason is that a person can “assume” but a study cannot. Animate nouns are things like a person, a researcher or a participant.  Animate nouns can make an assumption.  An inanimate noun, like a research study, cannot.  Just like an animate noun, a researcher can “think”, but an inanimate noun, a computer, cannot.

To put it more simply, think of it this way:

  • Person, Researcher, Participant = assume and think
  • Study, Computer, Inanimate Object ≠ assume and think

How to Respond Effectively in Online Discussions

Online college students often find that they are required to answer discussion questions in class.  With the popularity of texting and the lack of formality used when writing an email, many students are lacking the necessary skills to write an appropriate posting. 

Online schools often require that postings are substantive.  In other words, the postings should be substantial and have sufficient content to answer questions in depth.  Students may be given guidelines or a minimum word count to guide them.  However, when responding to fellow students’ postings, there are usually not specific word count requirements.  Therefore, it is important for students to respond in a way that is not merely showing their agreement or disagreement with what is being discussed. 

A good rule of thumb is to support what the student has said with at least one sentence. That doesn’t mean the student has to agree with the statement; they just have to support the fact that the student has made their point. 

Then after supporting them, the student can disagree or agree with the topic at hand.  They should include several more sentences explaining their position on the topic.  They could give examples and cite sources.  

A good way to end the discussion would be with a question that is either addressed to the original student or one that could be addressed to the class in order to bring more participants into the discussion.  

It is extremely important that students write in complete sentences, use correct grammar, check spelling and punctuate correctly.  For additional help with writing skills, please check out the following links:

Can Spell Check Make Things Worse?

Top 15 Writing and Grammar Mistakes

15 Ways to Improve Writing Skills

10 Common Writing Mistakes

Can Texting Damage Writing Skills?

Can Spell Check Make Things Worse? The Most Misspelled Words

Today’s Ask Dr. Diane:  What are some of the mostly commonly misspelled words?
I post a lot of information about spelling and grammar for my students.  There are certain words that many people tend to misspell.  For a list of the top 100 misspelled words, click here.  I often ask students to quiz their family and friends to see how they do with some of the more commonly misspelled words . . . For fun, ask people to spell the following words that seem pretty simple and basic to see how well they do.  I think you’ll be surprised at how many times people misspell these:

Calendar

Embarrass

Questionnaire

Accommodate

Definitely

I think a lot of students tend to rely heavily on the spell check function.  The problem is, if you don’t really have a good idea of how the word you are looking for is spelled in the first place, spell check may offer solutions that are not even close to the word you had intended.  I often have students send me an email saying something like, “I apologize for the incontinence.”  I kind of think they were looking for the word inconvenience .  .  . but I guess you never know.

For some extra tips on improving your spelling, check out an article by powa.org by clicking here.  Here are some tips from that article that may be helpful to you:

Suggestions for Spelling Improvement

1. Don’t look words up while you’re composing. Wait until your thought-flow runs its course. As you write, highlight or mark any words you aren’t absolutely sure about. Then later when editing, your attention will go right to these words and you can look them up all at once without interrupting and losing track of your thoughts. By looking up words later, you also can concentrate on learning to spell them correctly so you won’t have to look them up again. You might even consider keeping a list of Target Words to concentrate on.

2. Every time you write a word ask yourself whether you know how to spell it. There are only two possible answers to this question: yes and no. Maybe, probably, and I think so all count as no. If the answer is yes, keep on writing, but if the answer is no, mark the word to look up. Most spelling errors come not on words like “cataclysmic,” which you know you need to look up, but on words like “front,” where you think the odds are with you.

3. Notice what part of the word you’ve spelled wrong. Hardly ever do you spell a whole word wrong. Usually one or two letters need to be changed. Find the trouble spot by comparing the dictionary version with the version you’ve already written down. Sometimes a memory prod will help you get those letters right next time. For example, you might learn to spell “environment” by remembering that it has the word “iron” in it.

4. Watch out for words that sound like other ones. Here the problem isn’t so much spelling as using the wrong word, as when someone says, “I don’t care weather it rains.” Besides “whether” and “weather,” some other frequently confused words are listed below. These words are especially treacherous because computer spell-checkers won’t pick them up.

a — an — and
our — hour — are
accept — except
personal — personnel
cite — site — sight
quiet — quite — quit
cloths — clothes
roll — role
desert — dessert
soul — sole
do — due
than — then
led — lead
there — their — they’re
loose — lose
to — too — two
moral — morale
wear — where — were
new — knew
who’s — whose
no — know
your — you’re
past — passed

Free Education

If you are thinking of changing careers but don’t think you have enough training or education  . . .  in my book How to Reinvent Your Career, you will be able to find some suggestions about how to learn things for free.
 
One of my favorite new ways to learn things is through iTunes’ program called iTunes U (the U stands for university). Some very well respected universities participate in iTunes U, and offer many free video downloads that you can access to learn about almost anything. Even if you aren’t considering changing jobs, I highly recommend checking out their free lectures.

You can also learn a lot on iTunes through their podcasts, which are also free. A podcast is a recorded audio program that you download onto your computer, iPod or MP3 device. There are excellent podcasts on just about any topic you can imagine.

For a list of some great free educational sites, check out the following:

1.    iTunes U: http://www.apple.com/education/itunes-u/ – iTunes have their university courses as well as regular podcasts available. Be sure to check out all of the free things iTunes has to offer.

2.    ‘Stuff you should know’ podcast  (the hosts Josh and Chuck are great!): http://electronics.howstuffworks.com/stuff-you-should-know-podcast.htm

3.     MIT Open Courseware: http://ocw.mit.edu/OcwWeb/web/courses/courses/index.htm

4.     Computer training: http://www.gcflearnfree.org/computer/topic.aspx?id=140

5.      How to use APA for writing papers: http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/560/01/

6.      Source for a lot of educational videos that help you to be on the cutting edge: http://wimp.com/

7.      Grammar guide: http://grammar.quickanddirtytips.com/

8.      Online tutorials: http://www.librarysupportstaff.com/ed4you.html#Online Tutorial

9.      Source for many educational training videos: http://websearch.about.com/od/imagesearch/a/education_video.htm

10.    Career training resource: http://freecareertraining.org/