Cheryl Stephens—Audience awareness (Communication Convergence 2015)

Who are we writing for when our audience is the general public? “The general public is an amorphous concept,” said plain language champion Cheryl Stephens in her talk at Communication Convergence. “I wrote 20 years ago that there was no such reading audience as the ‘general public,’” she wrote in a handout. “I said that any … Continue reading “Cheryl Stephens—Audience awareness (Communication Convergence 2015)”

Children’s book illustration & design

At the Vancouver ceremony for the 2014 Alcuin Awards, one of this year’s judges, Robin Mitchell Cranfield, moderated a lively panel discussion about the unique considerations in children’s picture book publishing. On the panel were: Cynthia Nugent, children’s book author, MA student in children’s literature, and illustrator of the acclaimed Mr. Got to Go series—the … Continue reading “Children’s book illustration & design”

Adrienne Montgomerie & Cheryl Stephens—How and what to edit in visuals accompanying text (Editing Goes Global, 2015)

According to Editors Canada’s Professional Editorial Standards, a proficient editor should know how to “ensure that all tables, photos, multimedia, and other visual elements are clear and effectively convey the intended meaning” (Standard C5). But clear and effective how, and by what standard? Veteran editor Adrienne Montgomerie and plain language champion Cheryl Stephens took us through … Continue reading “Adrienne Montgomerie & Cheryl Stephens—How and what to edit in visuals accompanying text (Editing Goes Global, 2015)”

Craig Morrison—10 fixes for improving your product’s UX (webinar)

UserTesting.com hosted a free seminar featuring usability consultant Craig Morrison of Usability Hour. Morrison began as a web designer, focusing on visual design, but he soon discovered that aesthetics alone aren’t enough to ensure a good user experience. Freelancers often get into the habit of satisfying only their clients’ demands and, once they finish one project, they … Continue reading “Craig Morrison—10 fixes for improving your product’s UX (webinar)”

Seth on cartooning, book design, and the Canadian aesthetic

Cartoonist, book designer, and illustrator (though he prefers the term “decorator”) Seth took the stage on Thursday after the Alcuin Awards presentations to talk about his influences; cartooning as an expressive, symbolic language; and the design features he’s identified as uniquely Canadian that he’s incorporated into his own design aesthetic. Guided by questions from another … Continue reading “Seth on cartooning, book design, and the Canadian aesthetic”

Rethinking the block quote

I recently noticed my tendency to skip right over the block quotes in a book I was reading and figured there are probably others who do the same. My brain likely took the diminutive type as a cue that the quote wasn’t as important as the main text—but was this effect what the author intended? … Continue reading “Rethinking the block quote”

Neil James and Ginny Redish—Writing for the web and mobiles (PLAIN 2013)

Veteran plain language advocates Neil James and Ginny Redish shared some eye-opening statistics about web and mobile use at the PLAIN 2013 conference that may prompt some organizations to reprioritize how they deliver their content. In 2013, for example, there were 6.8 billion mobile phones in use—almost one for every person on the planet. Half … Continue reading “Neil James and Ginny Redish—Writing for the web and mobiles (PLAIN 2013)”

Karen Schriver—Plain by design: Evidence-based plain language (PLAIN 2013)

We may be good at the how of plain language, but the why can be more elusive. To fill in that missing chunk of the puzzle, information design expert Karen Schriver has scoured the empirical research on writing and design published between 1980 and 2010. She gave the PLAIN 2013 audience an eye-opening overview of … Continue reading “Karen Schriver—Plain by design: Evidence-based plain language (PLAIN 2013)”

Use hyphens wisely: Discretion is advised

Having just educated two of my designer friends—both award-winning veterans of the book industry—about the discretionary/optional hyphen, I realized that maybe not everyone knows about it after all. Convincing designers to embrace the discretionary hyphen can mean saving a lot of proofing time (or, at the very least, eliminating a proofing worry), so I’ve found … Continue reading “Use hyphens wisely: Discretion is advised”