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Archive for the ‘Education’ Category

Happy New Year, All!

This year is going to be a busy one with new challenges. I have been named editor to a local society’s journal. So I may be posting items on the issues of getting one’s research published on the smaller scale, IOW, not book length. If you visit this blog from time to time, then I can guess that you are interested in writing well and that you wish to someday see your writing in print. So let’s start with some of the practical issues of getting from idea to print (or XML, if you desire electronic publication).

One of the best ways to start writing the family history book that you envision is by writing your family’s story in smaller chunks. Submit articles to a journal or newsletter whose focus is the region or surname that is prominent in your article. While most genealogical journals and society newsletters are not juried the way The American Genealogist, New England Register, and National Genealogical Society Quarterly are, you can still ask the editor if he or she minds giving you feedback on your submission.

The feedback you want will vary somewhat with the type of article that you wrote. But there are certain basics that apply regardless of whether the article is a biography of a “black sheep” ancestor or describing how you finally pieced together the evidence that proved one’s lineage. In this post, I will cover spelling and grammar.

First impressions are lasting—make them positive.

The first thing that you want to do is activate your grammar and spell checker on your wordprocessing software (if not already activated). However, don’t stop there. “There” and “their” are both correctly spelled words but they are often used in the wrong place within a sentence. Editors don’t want to be correcting spelling and grammar. So have someone else proof your near final copy of the article to be sure that you’ve caught those little irritating errors. Hey, even the most experienced writers make such mistakes, so do don’t beat yourself up if you find them in your drafts. [Insert: save that until you find those mistakes in the published copy. <g>]

Another tool that I use is “text to speech” software. Text-to-speech software was developed for the visually impaired and people with dyslexia. But it helps me to find other minor glitches that crept into the text from the dozens of re-writes and edits over the course of the article’s development. Removing text and replacing it with other text is one of the ways many technical errors found in my own writing are introduced. I have Adobe Pro 7.0 which has “text-to-speech” functions within the software. So I cannot recommend any package that is stand-alone. My best advice is to talk to someone at your local public school about what software they use for children with visual impairments or dyslexia. You might also check with your local public library to see what software they may have on their computer systems for people with such needs. Finally, search for internet websites that offer text-to-speech software from free download (basic functions) to modest prices ($39.99) to expensive ($299, plus). If anyone has recommendations, please share them with us here.

By the time I’ve asked a friend to provide that “human factor” in reviewing a piece of my writing, they think that I don’t make those silly composition mistakes that everyone else makes…boy, are they wrong.

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