home >> faqs & resources


Frequently Asked Questions
& Useful Resources


Here is a set of FAQs about how I can best serve your business communications requirements.

I've also included a set of resources regarding Microsoft Word, Adobe InDesign, and topics related to the business of writing and editing.

Have other questions? Contact me »

+ How long have you been editing, writing, copywriting, and proofreading?

I've been providing business communications services for over 25 years as an employee, onsite contractor, and now as an independent editor and content creator who operates remotely.

Please see Chris's Long, Strange Trip for more information.

+ Please explain your logo tagline. It appears as though your company is part of a much larger organization...and surely you're not 145 years old!

Thanks for asking. I'm a descendant of James E. Scripps, founder of the Evening News Association (The Detroit News, et al.). Collectively, he and his more famous younger siblings (whom he introduced to the business) once owned more US newspapers than Randolph Hearst. (But none built themselves a castle.)

In addition to being The News second publisher, son-in-law George Booth (my great grandfather) ndependently owned major dailes across Southern Lower Michigan with his two brothers.

Prior to selling the ENA to Gannett in 1986, subsequent publishers represent three more familial generations. (Booth Newspapers had sold ten years earlier to S.I. Newhouse's Advance Publications.)

I use the tagline to convey that printers' ink runs thick within my own blood.

+ Your website seems verbose. Yet you revere William Zinsser, who urges writers to make every word count. Why the disparity?

When I finish editing your draft or writing new content on your behalf, I assure you it'll be tight—just as it was when I was a radio, newspaper, and trade magazine advertising copywriter.

I fully understand how to write engaging copy for the web, in this modern era of ever-decreasing attention spans.

That said, please understand that much of what I've written herein is aimed at search engine indexing bots—the more content (and keywords), the more there is to index.

+ How much do you charge? Do you provide estimates?

I charge by the hour, with rates being commensurate with the open market. Estimates are always difficult to assess, but I do have past data that may be useful in this regard.

I monitor the members-only Editorial Freelancers Association forum daily and am a frequent contributor. Members continually learn from one another and openly share resources. And it's another way I can help "pay it forward."

To a lesser degree, I do the same for the Copyediting-L list. It maintains a terrific collection of resources for wordsmiths of all walks.

And I've been a frequent participant on the Techwhir-L forum for over 20 years.

+ I really like your style. Beyond client work, does your writing appear elsewhere?

As inspiration strikes, I post long-form articles about writing, MS Word, marketing, computer security, digital self-promotion, and general business topics at LinkedIn's publishing site. In addition, I frequently post to the LinkedIn feed.

Readers of The Freelancer—the bi-monthly Editorial Freelancers Association newsletter—also often see my byline.

+ Do you mentor your clients' aspiring content creators?

All of the time. I usually do this through embedded comments I make while editing their draft submissions. These may take the form of basic do's and don'ts, suggested reading material, or other helpful advice.

When appropriate, I enjoy adding a touch of humor to help make my point and illustrate that learning to write well can be fun.

+ You also promote David Ogilvy as a writer whose copy all should emulate. Why do you place him in such esteem?

The answer is Ogilvy's 10-point How To Write, a memo he dispatched to all Ogilvy & Mather employees. I've been known to share this with aspiring content creators whose managers engage my business communication services.

As with Strunk & White's The Elements of Style, there exist a number of great writing aides that aren't mind-numbing for those writers wishing to hone their craft. Professor Paul Brians' website is another great resource, where one can quickly look up if it's "discrete" or "discreet," et al.

+ Where is the first place you go when you have a question about Microsoft Word?

The Word-PC listserv is a very active site where I get fast answers from MVP-level participants. And it's not just for Windows users. Send a blank email to word-pc-subscribe-request@liverpool.ac.uk to join.

MVP Shauna Kelly is no longer with us, but her incredible self-help site lives on.

It's often a bit slower to get a response, but the Windows Secrets Lounge bills itself as "Everything Microsoft forgot to mention." It's also not just for Windows users.

+ Are you available for public speaking and training?

Yes. In 2017 I presented at Communication Central's 12th annual Be a Better Freelancer Conference, and will be back for the 13th annual event. In recent times I've also been a presenter at my local chapter of the Editorial Freelancers Association.

In addition, I ran a non-interactive Adobe InDesign class offered by the EFA.

Through the '90s I was a highly acclaimed seminar leader and classroom instructor who toured the US for both Learning Tree International and Mastering Computers. That led to a one-off appearance at US Coast Guard computer security gathering.

Years prior I taught an Aldus PageMaker class at a vocational center and, as an expert desktop publisher, spoke about the topic at several conferences.

+ How did you learn about page layout and typography?

Again, some of my ability is inherent. I was that kid in elementary school whose social studies posters were always exhibited in the hall. And I created several flyers during high school and college years for musical events I dreamed up and promoted.

Later, moonlighting as a negative stripper for a Webb press operation is where I picked up additional basics. And I gleaned a lot of useful tips from lithographers I contracted to create camera-ready trade magazine ads I had sold.

Then, at the dawn of the desktop publishing revolution, the premiere release of Aldus PageMaker included a primer by Roger C. Parker. Essentially it was excerpted from his book, Looking Good In Print, which remains a valuable resource for those wanting to learn how to construct an attractive page that will keep readers engaged.

Back then, Aldus (and later Adobe) published a informative magazine full of tips, and I devoured a couple of other monthly periodicals dedicated to the topic. I also found Jan V. White's Editing By Design to be quite informative. That led me to additional resources regarding typefaces and other components that make up a page.

+ You're a keen proponent of digital marketing. What has helped you learn to do it?

David Meerman Scott's The New Rules of Marketing & PR is a fabulous resource. I also found Louise Harnby's Marketing Your Editing & Proofreading Business to be quite useful. I subscribe to both authors' digital updates, too.

For learning how to use LinkedIn most effectively, Wayne Breitbarth is my #1 resource. Using a friendly, down-home approach, he offers a plethora of free tips at his powerformula.net website. And while his book doesn't cover the new LinkedIn user interface, much of it is still applicable.

+ I see you use the Markdown language for some blocks on your home page. Are there good references for its use?

Sure. Using simple Google queries, here are a few resources I found useful as I trained myself:

  • support.squarespace.com/hc/en-us/articles/206543587
  • en.support.wordpress.com/markdown-quick-reference/
  • www.w3schools.com/tags/tag_span.asp
  • github.com/adam-p/markdown-here/wiki/Markdown-Cheatsheet#html
  • catcode.com/styleinfo/classes.html
  • htmlgoodies.com/tutorials/html_401/article.php/3479661
  • www.w3schools.com/tags/tryit.asp?filename=tryhtml_span
  • stackoverflow.com