Susannah’s blog about writing and websites

Websites need style

Having a style guide is essential for a professional-looking website or publication. At Clarity, the writing experts, we have written style guides for clients, usually big companies, but having one specially written is probably beyond the means of small and medium-sized businesses. For the rest of us, the best thing to do is to borrow […]

Lessons from the poets

On National Poetry Day, a poet appeared on BBC Radio 4 this morning to criticise what he called the daily abuse of language by politicians. Michael Horovitz said every politician should learn a poem and say it back before making any public pronouncement. That should keep quite a lot of people quiet, but we might […]

What does “unticketed” mean to you?

Quite a few people turned up at Lord’s cricket ground today hoping to see the early rounds of the Olympic archery competition. The event had been described as “unticketed” and they assumed that meant they didn’t need a ticket to get in. Apparently not. There were no tickets for the event because there were to […]

Good and bad interviews

After two days at the Hay Festival of Literature, I found myself thinking about the difference in quality of the interviewers of the authors. The format is for each author to be interviewed by another writer, who then invites questions from the audience and chairs the discussion. One interviewer I thought very good and another […]

To write well, play to your strengths

Do you think of yourself as a bad writer? When I was at school I certainly thought I would never earn my living by writing. But here’s some encouragement from a writing coach whose newsletters I enjoy, Daphne Gray-Grant. In a recent blog post, Daphne points out that writing involves many skills, not just one. […]

Good websites save time

I’ve just had an exchange of emails that started at the “Contact us” page on a company website. The website provided an enquiry form, I filled it in and got an email reply. I replied to their email and they replied to mine. What’s the problem? The problem is that it was all unnecessary. The […]

Could Dickens help your business writing?

At the end of our Clarity training courses we give out a list of recommended reading. The idea is that people’s writing is influenced by what they read and that a dose of good fiction may counteract the corporate drivel that they are inundated with at work. I’m thinking of adding Dickens’ novels to our […]

Nounitis on the train

Just as I had settled into my seat on the train and was looking forward to a good breakfast, a voice announced that there would be no restaurant trolley coming down the train “due to a shortfall in staffing levels”. What had happened? The announcement gave nothing away. Those dull abstract nouns “shortfall” and “levels” […]

Please, Santa, no more turd polishing

The Christmas edition of The Big Issue carries a plea from its founder-editor, John Bird, for more clarity in dealings between the public and the state. In his editorial letter to Santa, Bird says clarity in parliament and on the part of the government is in short supply. Instead, he says “One feels that turd […]

Don’t make me …

I am driven wild by websites that force you to do things you don’t want to or haven’t time to do. No wonder so many websites fail. You want to buy; they want to sell, but they don’t take the trouble to make it easy for you. For example, I wanted to buy some sheet […]