The Editor’s Pen: Formatting Foils

paragraph breakOk, so you are about to pitch your story to five, ten, twenty-five new leads. Easiest thing to do–Copy and Paste! Yes, surely that is the answer. And, I agree it is. You don’t want to waste all of your energies reinventing the wheel. If you have a crisp, clear, concise pitch that speaks to the needs of the people you want to reach, don’t mess with gold. But please do me a favor, edit before you hit send. That lovely pitch can be ruined by one simple thing–formatting. We have all had those experiences where you copy information from one place to another only to find that half of the message was left off, or a piece of one word merged with the next, or all the lines have shifted. It’s what I like to call the gremlins. Those little nasty critters working in the background to trip you up–and they want to trip you up. So, don’t let them.

Remember, even if you are giving the same pitch to hundreds of people, those individuals don’t want to feel like part of the nameless, faceless herd. More and more, people expect (and honestly deserve) personal, personalized and customized service. So give it to them. That doesn’t mean crafting a new email for every recipient, but it does mean being mindful of the simple things. Funky formatting visually clues people into the fact that they are receiving recycled material . It may not be a conscious thought, but people like a personal touch, and something as simple as formatting may knock that impression aside. Don’t make it obvious that you have copy and pasted your generic message to their very unique email address. All it takes is a moment (or two) to check your formatting to give someone that warm fuzzy feeling of individuality. And you, just might get one too!

Kate E. Stephenson is a freelance communications specialist whose business encompasses content writing, comprehensive editing and quality resume services. Lexicon is her brainchild, a blog all about Language—insight into today’s job market and hiring tips, book releases and reviews, and general folly concerning the many mysterious facets of the English language and human communication. Be sure to read more about Kate, check out a full listing of services and rates, and enjoy her weekly columns on!

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