Keys to Good Copy: Style Guides, Computers, and Cash

It’s All About Your Style

In the age of the Internet, you really don’t have to worry about crossing your t’s and dotting your i’s: the keyboard does that for you. It will even put a little red squiggly under words it doesn’t like and give you suggestions about how to correct them, but that doesn’t mean you can shift the old brainbox into neutral and watch as your copy materializes perfectly out of thin air. (See the next news tidbit if you want to know how to do that.) If you are in charge of writing, it still takes a careful eye to catch your mistakes, and one thing that can help both experienced and new writers is a style guide. The two subheadings in Armando Roggio’s article on Practical eCommerce say it all: Style, Spelling, and Grammar are Important, and Style Guides Help.

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A Debate About Farming–Content-Style

Content farming has a terrible rap, and for good reason. A lot of the articles produced by content farm writers end up incredibly uninformative and difficult to read, because they try to pander to the whims of the search engine gods. Despite keyword offerings and headline dances, the search engine gods have been averting their eyes from content-farmed copy. Now, computers can produce content much more quickly than writers, and Econsultancy poses an interesting question: Could computer-generated content be as good, or even better, than farmed copy? They compare two articles, and lo, the computer-generated one is more informative than the human-generated one. In the end, though, can either version stand up next to a carefully written content? Read on to find out.

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Stylishly Handing Over the Green

Turns out, neither computer content or copy-farm content come close to the real deal. Michael Graywolf looks at when and how much you should pay for copy, and concludes that if you want something decent, it will cost money. The alternatives, though, are looking like an eHow article, which Michael points out people intentionally avoid because of their uselessness. Not only do you turn away repeat visitors, you represent your brand in a poor way. You don’t get quality for six cents a word–he cites a recent article estimating $58 as their average cost for one article and suggesting that a national newspaper would pay roughly $630 for the same article. I will give you a quick warning: the article is long, but every word is worth reading.

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