Writing Advice

The Best Newsletters and How To Write One

The Goodnewsletter.

A newsletter is often distributed to share information among people with common interests. Schools, clubs/organizations, social service groups, and others share information that is of interest and relevance to the target audience. Some newsletters arrive in the mail while others com electronically. No doubt, you likely receive one or more newsletters and at some point, you may have the opportunity to be involved in writing and distributing news for your favorite group.

6 Tips For Writing a Great Newsletter

Know your audience and get their interest.

Take a few moments to decide what topics will interest your audience. Make sure that the content you are putting in the newsletter will connect with the readers on a personal level. Use the six questions of who, what, when, where, why, and how to give your newsletter versatility. Each article needs to give relevant information that will keep your audience interested. You may have to do a little bit of research on the topic(s) in the newsletter but that will make it more valuable for your audience. It is important that you cite sources from your research in the newsletter articles.

The Kevin Rose Newsletter

Have a simple and easy to read format.

Use a font (size and type) that is easy to read. Make sure the format is easy to follow. When possible keep the complete article on one page so that people do not have to search for the remaining paragraphs on the topic. Black text is always best unless you are trying to highlight a few words. Make sure your vocabulary is concise and comprehensible so that everyone of all reading levels can easily understand the content.

Use interesting headlines and pictures.

Use action verbs and write dynamic headlines that grabs the attention of your audience. A picture next to a headline might be the best combination because the picture will grab the attention of your reader and the headline will sell them on the idea that this is must read information. Without an interesting headline, readers may skim over articles. It is also important that articles with more than a few paragraphs have sub-headings to help break up the text.

Information should be accurate, timely, and engaging.

Include a variety of topics and sections that will make your newsletter more interesting to a larger audience. It is best to split your topics equally among activities and news that has occurred since the last newsletter and new items that will be coming up before your next publication date. A calendar of events is always welcome in a newsletter. Above all else, make sure the information you provide in your newsletter is accurate.

A table of contents is helpful.

This can be placed on a side bar or in a small section. Having a table of contents or summary paragraph turns the newsletter into a resource that people know they can easily grab and find the information relevant to them now. Some newsletters are only a table of contents that directs to an external site or blog. This is also great to keep engagement high, since readers are more likely to read shorter newsletters and scan only for information/stories that interest them. It also drives traffic to your website/blog.

Grammar and spelling are important.

After writing your articles, proofread for typos and edit all articles for consistency of writing style. If multiple people have contributed, make sure that the entire newsletter has the same tone and writing style. Always have multiple people proofread for spelling and grammar. Once you believe you have edited enough, go over it one more time.

 

The Four Best Email Newsletters

We get hundreds of emails a day, so the few newsletters that we allow in our inbox are some of the best out there. Do you have a favorite newsletter? If so, leave it in the comments!

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How to Write a Dissertation That Doesn’t Suck

When I was living in that dread land of ABD (all but dissertation), I could always spot what poor fools around me weren’t going to make it. If I had wanted to be punched in the face, I would have given them these five tips to help.

1. Have an Actual Opinion

You can gather all the data you want. You can survey 15,978 institutions with a 90% response rate. You can figure out how to interview your dead grandmother. If you don’t use it all to arrive at an actual opinion: It. Doesn’t. Matter. Even better, your opinion should be interesting. It should shed light on something unknown, promote a new idea, disprove a myth—something!
But you should at least have one.

 

2. Don’t Write Crap Just to Show You Did the Research

It’s been years since you’ve seen the sun. Your children don’t recognize you. In fact, you don’t remember having children. You just know you’ve been staring at your computer so long your eyelashes have cobwebs. Now you’re writing up the Literature Review section, and you’re going to make damn sure each and every book, article, blog post, and bubblegum wrapper you ever so much as looked at is going in there. No one will be able to deny your thoroughness, your pain, or your lost youth. And no one will care, either.

Showing your research should be part of your argument, such as showing there’s a real gap in the literature or demonstrating that your opinion is different from what’s come before. Anything irrelevant must go, even if the article in question were only acquired through an inter-library loan and buying your own microfiche machine.

 

3. Stop Repeating Yourself! (AKA, The “Argh!” Rule)

It doesn’t matter how many fancy words you’ve learned, how often you change your syntax and tone, or what lovely tables and charts you have. The reader can tell when they’re being told the same thing over and over.

Don’t believe me? Well, the audience for your paper is able to identify the recurrent appearance of the same content multiple times. Moreover, people notice when you repeat yourself!
Say it once, say it correctly, and move the hell on.

4. Write a Dissertation That Makes You a Good Hire

Oh, you found it fascinating that fruit fly genitalia can be counted more readily using the Accu-Scope 3088 Rechargeable LED Monocular Microscope than with the Labomed Sigma Monocular Microscope? Wow. And you wrote 2,432 pages on it? That’s major winner right there.

And now tell me just who you think wants to hire someone who spent a year of their life figuring that out? All that dissertation will get you is a job as a lab minion.

Pick something you can talk about at your interview that makes you sound smart and topical, cutting-edge and valuable. Or lets you fake it.

 

5. Don’t Plagiarize (AKA, The Dumbass Rule)

Most grad students have figured out by the time they’re doing the dissertation that they must cite even when they paraphrase, must put everything in quotes that’s not their own work, must slavishly follow the writing style down to the last comma in their references, and must refer at least twice to something their professor wrote if it’s even remotely on point.

But remember that the all-holy dissertation is supposed to show you can perform original thinking, or at the least create an original thought, however small.

Be absolutely certain that your whole idea doesn’t revolve around what someone else said. It can be inspired by it, or you can have the idea to disprove it, or you can expand on it in an original way. But if it’s really just a restatement of another’s work, someone on that panel of professors is going to all but kill themselves proving how superior they are to their peers by haughtily revealing that they already read your so-called opinion right here.

Seriously, in academia, it’s better to be new and pointless than incredible but repetitive.

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When online translators go horribly (and hilariously) wrong

Online translators can come in handy when you need to translate something on the fly. Automatic or machine translation is a quick and cheap alternative to time-consuming manual translation with a bilingual dictionary or a professional translation service. Automatic translators work on a word-by-word basis, which can be useful when you need to get the gist. But they run into problems when there is more than one possible translation for a word, since they obviously cannot ‘understand’ any context that may be crucial to choosing the right one. In these cases, the online translator gives the most common translation (usually the literal meaning of the word), which may or may not make any sense.

Another pitfall is grammatical accuracy. When translating between languages with different ways of structuring sentences, the word-by-word process may simply produce ungrammatical strings of words. These kinds of online translator fails can be found all over the Internet where people poke fun at just how wrong automatic translation can go.

One truly epic fail was the automatic translation from Italian to English of the biographies of all the ministers in the Italian government that appeared on the official website. At the time, the episode was reported by a major Italian newspaper, which also gleefully pointed out the ironic contrast with that government’s promise to boost the “three I’s” in education: Inglese, Internet e Impresa (English, Internet, Enterprise). Here are some of the best bloopers:

• The Italian “Nato a” at the beginning of each bio was mysteriously transformed into “Been born in”, rather than simply “Born in”. Unfortunately, all the ministers’ bios began in the same totally ungrammatical way.

• “Coniugato e con due figli” became “Conjugated and it has two daughters”. In addition to its grammatical meaning, “coniugato” also means “married” in Italian. The poor man was also reduced to an “it” rather than a “he”. Both of these fails were repeated in the ministers’ bios, men and women alike.

• “Ministro dell’Interno” (Minister of the Interior) became “Minister of the Inside”.

• “Ministro dell’Ambiente” (Minister of the Environment) became “Minister of the Atmosphere”.

• “Il portavoce del Presidente” (spokesperson for the President) became “the megaphone of the President”.

• One minister graduated from “Mouthfuls University”. The university in question is Università Bocconi, founded by Ferdinando Bocconi and one of the most prestigious academic institutions in Italy. The word “boccone” in Italian means “mouthful”. “Bocconi” is the plural form, so the automatic translator actually did get that right!

• The Minister of Education found herself with a new first name when “Letizia” was translated into “Joy”.

• A minister was regrettably described as having once been an “Ordinary University Professor”. In the Italian higher education system, the highest level of professorship is “Professore Ordinario”, corresponding to Full Professor.

• As a young man, a minister was a member of the political activist group called “Fronte della Gioventù”, which became the “Forehead of Youth”, rather than the Youth Front. “Fronte” also means “forehead” in Italian.

• The political party “Lega Nord” of one minister became the “Alloy North”, rather than the Northern League.

• A minister’s illustrious mentor’s first and last names were translated from “Augusto Del Noce” to “August Of The Nut” (note the carefully maintained capitalization). “Noce” does, in fact, mean “nut”, so a perfectly logical choice in the ‘mind’ of the automatic translator, even at the risk of offending Mr. Del Noce’s mother.

• The city and province of birth of one minister, Cassano Magnago (VA), where VA is the official abbreviation for the province of Varese, became Cassano Magnago (GOES). After all, “va” is the third person singular form of the irregular Italian verb “andare”, so why not translate that too into its English counterpart “goes”? (in all caps, of course!)

Once the blunder was discovered, the government quickly removed the embarrassing translations and got them done properly. The government also replied to the newspaper that the bios were trial runs with an automatic translator and not intended for publication, and that ‘someone’ had gotten into the system and made them public.

If English isn’t your first language, it’s a great idea to stay away from free online translation software. It still has a long way to go. Even if you use a professional translation service, it’s also a great idea to get a second pair of eyes on your translated copy to make sure your translator did a good job. We offer ESL (English as a second language) editing services here at Edit911, and guarantee your copy will read like a native English speaker when we’re done. Too bad the Italian government didn’t hire us 🙂

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