Monday, October 31, 2011

I'll Put That Bit There ... Part 3

Double spacing. Why do we do it? And what exactly is it?

Well, first things first: double spacing is NOT two spaces between every word, or sentence.

Double spacing means having a blank line between each line of text.


The image here shows how to set it up in Microsoft Word, although many other word processors operate in a similar fashion. In Word, go up to Tools, select Paragraph and the following window will appear.

About half way down the window are the options for spacing. In the middle of this section is the drop-down menu for line spacing. Select the arrow, and then choose Double from the drop down list.

THAT'S IT! Yes, that is all there is to it. (Okay, I lie, you also have to press OK at the bottom, too.)

DO NOT select anything in the boxes to the left, labelled Before or After. These need to be left at 0pt. (I've explained why in last week's post - I'll Put That Bit There ... Part 2)

So, why do we use double-spacing? Basically, because it's tradition. It's what writers always have done, since the days when anything printed, be it newspaper, magazine, or book, was published using hot metal presses. An editor would take a double-spaced typescript, use the extra space between each sentence to annotate to the typesetter any changes that needed making, or inserting any special instructions to the typesetter about headings, or inserting images, and then send the document to the typesetter for setting out on the metal presses.

Proofreaders and copy-editors needed double-spaced text to give them the space they required to annotate any corrections.

But since the advent of computers, hot metal presses have not been used to publish material. So why do we still do it? Double-spaced text is easier to read. (Try it. Print out one of your typescripts in double-spaced format and then print out the same text in single spaced format. Which is easier on the eye?) This is why writing competitions ask for double-spaced text. It is far easier for the judge to read. I once had to judge a pile of 166 short stories (of up to 4,500 words each) and it's surprising how quickly the eyes tire.

Editors know how much text there is on a double-spaced page. And yes, the gaps still give the editor space to write notes or comments for other staff to action.

When should you not double-space your text? When the editor tells you there's no need to. Yes, that's right. If an editor tells you there's no need to double-space, then you don't have to do it. But don't do this until you have permission from the editor.  (Let's be honest, if an editor says he wants your manuscript on pink paper, in Comic Sans font, at size 8, then that's what you bloody well give him!) But until you are told otherwise, you give an editor double-spaced text.

So, when you set up your article, short story or book template, make sure you include double-spaced text. Whilst double-spaced text is no longer required for the publication process, it's what writers have been doing for years and what many publishers continue to ask for today.

Good luck.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Introducing the Google AdWords Premier SMB Partner Program: Connecting you with partners to help maximize your AdWords campaigns

As a small business, we know you spend a lot of valuable time trying to reach more customers. Many of our advertisers build and create successful AdWords campaigns on their own, and others prefer to work with partners to get their Google advertising up and running. We think it’s important to provide you with the options that work best for your business, which is why we’re excited to announce a partnership program dedicated to helping small- and medium-sized businesses reach new customers with Google AdWords.

The Google AdWords Premier SMB Partner Program (PSP) connects Google’s trusted and experienced partners with businesses to create, manage, and optimize AdWords campaigns that help you reach more customers and make the most of your advertising budget.

Premier SMB Partners bring to the table years of industry knowledge and meet Google’s highest standards for qualification, training, and customer service. Teaming up with a PSP gives you a marketing and search engine advisor who can take the guesswork out of online advertising, to save you time and resources so you can focus on running and growing your business.

Check out the video below to see how a Google AdWords customer named A&D Automatic Gate & Access has worked with a Premier SMB Partner to find new customers with their Google AdWords campaigns.

To learn more about working with a Premier SMB Partner, visit our website, www.google.com/ads/premiersmbpartner/.

Posted by Todd Rowe, Director of Global Channel Sales

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Small business and the power of video, announcing “My Business Story” by Google and American Express

(Cross-posted on the Inside AdWords Blog)

Let’s say you’re a custom sneaker maker. Or you run a yoga retreat center. Or maybe you even sell vegan Vietnamese out of a gourmet food truck. Your business has its own unique story to tell. If you had the chance to show the world what your business is all about - from its founding roots to the ways it changes your customers’ lives, would you take it?

Today you have that chance. We’re pleased to be presenting “My Business Story®” alongside American Express. “My Business Story” is a program for small businesses to tell their stories through video, leading up to the second annual “Small Business Saturday”, a day set aside to encourage communities to spend and support local businesses by shopping small.

And since Google research has shown that companies who use video can expect better customer engagement and retention, we are launching a new video tool so that small business owners can create personalized, professional-quality videos about their business.

Once you’ve got your video crafted, business owners are invited to submit it to the contest for an opportunity to appear in the YouTube homepage ad on Friday, November 25th, which is viewed by an estimated 22 million people in the United States every day. Thirty-six small businesses will be featured in the ad and will receive an online ad campaign worth $5,000 from Google and American Express. All submissions will be viewed and judged by an independent panel of experts. The deadline for contest entry is Tuesday, November 15, but entry is not required to use the My Business Story editing tool.

Happy editing! We’re eager to see what you come up with.

Posted by Marisa Currie, Product Marketing Manager

Monday, October 24, 2011

I'll Put That Bit There ... Part 2

Last week, I looked at text justification, this week, I thought I'd look at paragraph layout. This is an area that confuses many new students, yet it needn't. There are two accepted styles, and the  key is using the same one throughout your piece; don't mix and match.

Your choice is to either use block paragraphing or indented paragraphing.

The style that many writers recognise is indented paragraphing. Indented paragraphing is what you see in most published articles, short stories and novels. This is where (generally with the exception of the first paragraph of the piece) the first line of each new paragraph is indented. The first word of the paragraph appears a few spaces to the right of the rest of the paragraph. So, to create your new paragraph, press the RETURN key on your keyboard once, then press the TAB key once. (Don't press the space bar several times to create your indent.)

Block paragraphing is what you see here in this posting. Instead of the first line of each paragraph being indented, an extra blank line appears between each paragraph. This is achieved by pressing the RETURN/ENTER key of your keyboard twice. Pressing it once, drops your cursor to the next line, pressing it the second time means your text now appears under that blank line.

So, why have two styles, especially when most published text uses the indented paragraph system? Here's the science bit ...

Publishers tend to use one of two computer software packages for designing the layout of their publications: QuarkXpress (from Quark) and InDesign (from Adobe). There are other software packages out there, but these are the two biggest. When you sell a piece of your writing, the publisher will import your text into their design package. A publisher explained to me that one of these programmes doesn't recognise an indented tab from some word processor packages, whereas it does recognise the block paragraphing and (ironically) converts the blocked paragraphing into indented paragraphing!

Personally, I prefer indented paragraphing. Whilst block paragraphing works well for non-fiction, I don't think it looks right in fiction, especially if your fiction contains a lot of dialogue. Indented paragraphing works well for fiction and non-fiction.

Finally, when you're setting up your page layout in your word processor, and setting up your double-spacing (more of which next week), make sure your spacing before and after is set at 0pt. Before and after spacing (seen on the left of this picture here) determines the space between paragraphs. Writers who use block paragraphing often use this to set the gap between each paragraph. Don't do it like this, because the publishers simply have to strip it all out. Just press the RETURN KEY twice.

So, to sum up with paragraphing, use either block paragraphing or indented paragraphing, but not both. And when you're writing, use the RETURN + TAB key (indented paragraphs), or the RETURN + RETURN key (block paragraph) combination.

Next week, I'll look at double-spacing and why every writer is told to use it, how to use it properly, and when you don't have to use it.

Good luck.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Google Apps highlights – 10/22/2011

This is part of a regular series of Google Apps updates that we post every couple of weeks. Look for the label “Google Apps highlights" and subscribe to the series. - Ed.

In the spirit of helping people work better together, over the last few weeks we made big improvements to Google presentations, introduced a version of Google Docs optimized for Android tablets, and enabled more dynamic content in Google Sites. We also celebrated the fact that Silicon Valley has gone Google!

Google presentations reloaded
On Tuesday we launched a completely rebuilt version of our web-based presentations application, so you can build more beautiful presentations together with colleagues and classmates. Google presentations now lets you make great-looking slides with animated builds, advanced slide transitions and better support for drawings, tables and themes. Plus, we made it easier to create presentations with others, without the hassles of attachments. Your whole team can work together in the same version of a presentation at the same time, and you can see who’s doing what, chat with others, and see a full revision history at any moment in time.




Google Docs on Android tablets
We’ve made it faster and easier to work with Google Docs on Android tablets with a new version of the Android application that takes full advantage of larger screen real estate. The three-panel view lets you browse filters and collections, see your document list and view file thumbnails and details simultaneously. You can get the Google Docs Android app for free from the Android Market.




Charts in Google Sites
Charts are often created in spreadsheets, but sometimes you want charts to appear in other places, like your team or project sites. In Google Sites, now you can select “Chart” from the “Insert” menu, and navigate to the Google Spreadsheet where your chart or data is located. You can also choose to have your site’s chart update in real-time when someone updates the underlying spreadsheet.





New look for Google Docs and Sites
We started rolling out a new look in Google Docs a couple months ago, and now this new design is available throughout all our collaboration tools. In addition to a cleaner, simpler design, we’ve made it more clear when your files are being auto-saved and added new icons to help you see at-a-glance who your docs are shared with. You can also customize the overall “density” of screen information, a great feature if you want to fit more onto a smaller display.





Who’s gone Google?
Successful small businesses tend to stay laser-focused on improving their core businesses, without getting distracted by peripheral activities that don’t make them more competitive. For example, most small businesses don’t want to spend time or money developing in-house expertise to run email and other IT systems. Case in point: 97 percent of Business Insider’s “Silicon Valley Startups to Watch” use Google Apps.

More than 5,000 businesses and thousands of other organizations start using Google Apps every single day, and more of our customers have shared their stories recently so you can hear why. A warm welcome goes out to Philz Coffee, Mid-Atlantic Door Group, Bradford & Barthel, LLP and the City of Mesquite, Nevada.

I hope these product updates and customer stories help you and your organization get even more from Google Apps. For more details and the latest news, check out the Google Apps Blog.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Small businesses in NYC help fight breast cancer with Pink Pin

This October and November, Google and Susan G. Komen for the Cure are taking the fight against breast cancer to New York City with the Pink Pin initiative. The Pink Pin initiative is a way for businesses to support the fight against breast cancer by encouraging consumers to donate to the search for a cure.

Physical businesses who register at PinkPin.com will be marked with a Pink Pin on our map. Customers who visit these businesses will be able to donate to Susan G. Komen for the Cure at stores via mobile phones. The more customers businesses reach, the more of an impact Pink Pin will have—and the closer we’ll be to a cure. We’re also encouraging businesses and consumers to inspire others by sharing their stories about the cause online at www.pinkpin.com. Our goal is to raise hope, raise spirits and raise more than $100,000 for Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

So get involved, get on the map, share your stories and be a part of Pink Pin. With the support of small businesses like yours, Google and Susan G. Komen for the Cure can help take breast cancer off the map.

Monday, October 17, 2011

I'll Put That Bit There ... Part 1

I've received a couple of queries recently about manuscript layout, particularly for magazines, so I thought this was something I'd look at again over the next few posts.

The key point I want to make here is that you are the writer, not the page layout designer. Think of yourself as the content supplier, not the designer.

Left/Right Justification
Joseline recently emailed enquiring whether text should be left and right justified, as it often is in published books and magazines.

First of all, here are some justification examples:

This is LEFT justified text. Notice how, when text is spread over several lines, it has a straight edge down the left hand side of the page/screen, but the text on the right has a 'ragged' edge, with variable amounts of white space between the last word on the line and the edge of the page/screen. The amount of white space depends upon the size of the following word, which is too big to fit on the previous line.


This is RIGHT justified text. Here, when text is spread over several lines, it has a straight edge down the right hand side of the page/screen, but the text on the left has a 'ragged' edge, with some white space between the edge of the page/screen and the first word on the line. 

This is BOTH LEFT AND RIGHT justified text. This time, the text has a straight edge down the left and right hand side of the page/screen. This is how many books are published and how many magazine text columns are aligned. It looks neater. However, it also s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-s the text across the page, inserting extra spaces and gaps between words to ensure that both sides of the page have a straight edge.

Because left AND right justified text has extra spaces to ensure both sides of the text have straight edges, this reduces the number of words on a page. Another problem this creates is that it adds extra 'hidden' characters in the text (a space is still a character, even though you can't 'see' it), which can cause problems when your text is copied from your word-processing document and imported into the publication's magazine layout software (such as Quark, Adobe Indesign). And then some poor person at the magazine has to sit there and delete all of the hidden characters.

So, all you need to do is LEFT JUSTIFY your text only.

You can also centre your text.
This is acceptable for titles ...
... BUT NOT YOUR WHOLE TEXT!

In Part 2, I'll look at paragraphing - should you indent, or use block paragraphs? And I'll try to explain why some magazines prefer indented paragraphs, when others prefer block paragraphs.

Good luck!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Faster updates to local business listings

(Cross-posted on the Lat Long Blog.)

Our goal to create a digital representation of the real world doesn’t just mean a birds’ eye view through Google Earth, or a street-level view through Google Maps. It means providing a local view as well, and tools like Google Places help people across the globe learn about and connect with the places and businesses in their immediate areas.

We use a variety of authoritative sources to give users relevant local information about places that might interest them, including data from partners, users, and directly from business owners who verify their organic listings via Google Places for business. In addition, we always want to know about changes to a business that should be reflected on our local search products. That’s why we have the “Report a problem” tool on Google Maps, and also enable users to click on the "Edit this place” link at the top of the Place page to provide updates to a business listing.



And while some business owners may have previously verified their organic listing to ensure that their company information was correct at that particular moment in time, we recognize that amidst all the work that goes into running a successful enterprise, remembering to update their Google Places account may not always be top of mind. Oftentimes, a neighborhood local or a loyal customer is eager to help their favorite business update its online presence when it moves into a bigger space across the street, or extends its hours for the summer season.

That’s why today, we’re introducing a new process that helps streamline the way updates are made to potentially outdated or incorrect business listings. Previously, verified business listings would always reflect the information provided by its owner - even if we received data about an updated name, address, or hours of operation. But now, if a user provides new information about a business they know -- or if our system identifies information from another source on the web that may be more recent than the data the business owner provided via Google Places --  the organic listing will automatically be updated and the business owner will be sent an email notification about the change. Without requiring any effort on the part of the business owner, we’ll take measures to keep their listing up-to-date if our system determines that the edit is accurate. Of course, if the business owner disagrees or has even more recent information, they can always directly log in to their Google Places account and make further edits.

Online ads from business owners using our AdWords or AdWords Express programs will not be affected by these automatic updates. Ads will continue to display the business information the owner has provided in Google Places.

We hope these new features help users find the most accurate local information available, and make it even easier for business owners to manage their online presence. If you’re a business owner with additional questions about your specific listing, please consult the Google Places for business Help Center or visit our user support forum.

Posted by Lior Ron, Google Places Product Manager

Monday, October 10, 2011

The Life Time of a Submission

The November issue of Dogs Monthly magazine carries an article of mine about fireworks (I like the promotion of it on the front cover!). But this idea was first born in August 2006.

Having done the research for a different commissioned piece, I realised I could quickly produce an article for dog owners, using the same information, so I submitted this speculative article to a dog magazine on 17th August (not Dogs Monthly!). Of course, an article about how to help dogs cope with fireworks is best aimed at the November issue of a magazine, however, fireworks are just as much an issue for dogs owners at Christmas and New Year too, so the piece may also have been suitable for the December or January issues.

At the end of December (when the January issue had been published), I contacted the editor to enquire if they were still interested in my feature. I heard back in February 2007 - the editor liked it and wanted to retain it for possible use in the November 2007 issue.

Well, time flies and the next thing I realised was that it was January 2008 and the article hadn't been used. I tried contacting the magazine, but heard nothing back. I tried contacting again in January 2009, but heard nothing.

In May 2009, I contacted the magazine again, mentioning the dates I tried contacting the editor in the past, and enquiring whether they were still interested in the feature. The editor emailed back the following day, saying they remembered it, but could I send a duplicate copy. This I did by return. A few days later, the editor emailed saying that they hoped to use it in the November 2009 issue.

Well, I'm sure by now you can guess where this one is heading. Suffice to say, it didn't appear in the November issue. So, in January 2010, I emailed the editor and enquired if they were planning on using it in 2010, if not, then I wanted to offer the piece elsewhere. The editor replied, saying that they couldn't guarantee using it this year, so I was free to offer it elsewhere.

Which I did, to Dogs Monthly, at the end of July 2010. The feature wasn't used in their November issue (with a feeling of deja vu!), so in January 2011, I enquired if the article was of interest to the editor. She said yes, and in June 2011, she asked me to bring the feature up to date again (because I'd submitted it a year previously) and provide a short biography.

Then, lo and behold, after five years, the article finally saw publication.

There are a few points to make here:

1. I said at the beginning this was a speculative piece. When I'm commissioned to write a feature, I always try to get another article (or two) out of the research I've undertaken. Whilst I try to get commissions for these, sometimes it only takes a short while to write the 'extra' article and so I'll risk a speculative submission. This example shows the risk of speculative submissions. Commissioned work rarely gets treated in this way.
2. Maintaining accurate records is imperative. Remember, you should know exactly where all of your submissions are at any one time. This is a business. You are competing with other professionals, even if your work is written around your day job and looking after the family.
3. However, the main point I want to make here is to never give up. I never set out on a journey of five years, but that's what it ended up taking. And it's only by keeping on top of submissions and contacting editors, without hassling them, that this piece has finally been published (and paid for).

Who knows what happened at the first magazine I submitted it to. Perhaps there was a plan to use it but something better came up, which was used instead. I don't know. I don't hold any grudges against the first magazine I sent it to. (But I haven't sent them any more stuff since!)

So, if you haven't heard from an editor, don't necessarily assume that's the end of your submission. Make enquiries. Don't chase two days after you submitted the piece. Even editors have days off and annual leave, and rumour has it, they're human and get stuff like the flu and coughs and colds too. They don't like being hassled during the week that the magazine goes to press, and they only deal with urgent emails and phone calls in that week, so everyone else has to take a back seat. But if several months have passed, then it's not unreasonable to make contact and just ask if your submission is of interest.

And if it turns out your target market is not interested, then find a new one. Stay persistent, and you increase your chances of publication. Ten years is my record, so far, for writing a piece and then finally seeing it published.

Good luck!


Monday, October 3, 2011

Introducing a new support feature for Google Places for business

We want to make it easy for you to get found on Google. The best way to do that is to add your business information to Google Places for business to make sure all your information is up to date.

But sometimes, you need a little help along the way to ensure that you can be found on Google. And lately, we’ve been hearing from many of you that you’d like a little more of this kind of help. That’s why we’re excited to share a recent change to our Help Center.

Now when you visit the Help Center homepage, you’ll notice a new section called “Fix a problem.” Click the problem that applies to you. We’ll walk you through some questions to help you get to the bottom of the issue, giving you tips to help resolve any issues you experience. And sometimes, if you still need additional help, you can send us a note. Fill out the contact form, hit submit, and someone from our team will get back to you soon.

Here’s a video to help you get started, featuring Derek, a member of our Google Places team:



Posted by Joel Headley, Consumer Operations

Better Than Publication?

For many, being published is one of the greatest feelings there is. For those of us earning a living from it, being paid for it is even better! But, can anything beat that feeling of publication? I think so. Reader interaction.

I had an article published in the September 2011 issue of Outdoor Photography, entitled Where There's A Will... It looked (in a fairly light-hearted way) at why photographers need a 'last will and testament' in this digital age.

A few days ago, I was reading the October issue of Outdoor Photography and read a letter from one reader praising my article. He said that whilst he always knew he ought to get a will written, my article pointed out the drawbacks of failing to do this. He's since seen a solicitor and now has a will.

I feel proud to have been part of this. That reader now has a will because of something that I wrote. Should he die tomorrow (and I hope he doesn't!), his family will find the administration of sorting out his finances much simpler. In a small way, I have influenced that reader's life. (Or perhaps I mean the aftermath of his death!) Seeing his letter in the magazine though, brought it home that what we write can affect people's lives.

Incidentally, I wrote a similar article on this topic for Writing Magazine, and you can read the article on my website here. All writers need wills, as well as photographers. (Actually, being blunt, EVERYBODY should have a will.)

A similar thing happened last week. As a member of the Society of Authors, I receive their quarterly publication, The Author. In it was an article I'd written about the benefits of writers taking a walk, getting away from their desks to stretch their muscles, having been hunched up over a keyboard for several hours at a time. I discussed, not only the physical benefits, but the mental benefits of walking too.

Within 48 hours of receiving my copy, I began getting emails from other society members, saying how much they'd enjoyed my article. Some authors contacted me to say they agreed with what I'd said, whilst others emailed to say that following my piece they too were going to give this a try.

And if you want to read why I think all writers should be walking away from their desks on a regular basis, then follow this link.

So, next time you have something published, don't just buy a copy of the magazine with your piece in it. Buy the next issue too, to find out whether your words moved the readers to write in too.

Good luck.

Followers