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Web Writing Resource

Want some advice on how to write for the Web? I did, and I found it in Crawford Kilian's "Writing for the Web" (1999, Self-Counsel Press, Bellingham, WA, $14.95).

As an editor, I found Kilian's chapters on "Writing Good Web Text" and "Editing Web Text" most relevant. I also learned a lot about how readers read computer text in "Hype and Hypertext" and about organizing material in "Structuring Your Web Site" and "Organizing Web Site Content."

The four other chapters are also full of useful information. And throughout the book you'll find exercises to help you practice what Kilian preaches, case studies that illustrate his points, and a wealth of references to other information resources. (Did I mention there's a glossary of Web and computer terms, too?)

All that and more in only 139 pages!

"Writing for the Web" is a well-written, useful, and accessible book. Try it. I think you'll like it.

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Making the Most of Our 888 Number

"Two thumbs up" to Fred Whitford (Purdue Pesticide Programs), who made the most of 888-EXT-INFO.

Fred recently appeared on a local television news program and talked about Japanese Beetles. He told viewers they could call 888-EXT-INFO to order E-75, "Japanese Beetle," or to reach someone at their local Purdue Extension office.

So far, so good, right?

But Fred went further. He let us know. He informed us that people might be calling to ask for E-75 and/or to speak to someone at a Purdue Extension county office.

This was a big help. While an issue such as Japanese Beetle may be on the hot topic list for our clients and for Purdue Extension educators and specialists, it may not be on the radar screen for those of us who answer the 888 number.

888-EXT-INFO (888-398-4636) is a great way to help our clients reach Purdue Extension campus or county offices, especially when they are calling long distance. "Heads-up" notices like Fred's allow us to answer their calls with confidence and to help them get the information they want more quickly and efficiently.

If you refer to the 888-EXT-INFO number, please let me know when to expect potential calls and what people may be asking for. You can send me email or call--you've got the number.

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Newsletters Made Easier with Publisher

Whenever I can, I like to review Purdue Extension newsletters. I recently got a chance to see "Vegetable Growers Newsletter," put out by Steve Engleking (LaGrange County). His newsletter is a good one, and how he produces it is especially noteworthy.

Steve uses Microsoft Publisher on his Compaq computer. He says the Publisher templates make it really easy to produce the newsletter and offer some other advantages, too.


Steve found a template with broccoli, tomatoes, and other vegetables built into the newsletter clipart. Even in black and white, the newsletter looks great. For a few clients he really wants to impress, he can now print it in color much more easily than he could before.

I suggested that Steve consider pre-printing greater quantities of the color portion of the front page and then simply print the black and white text on it each month. Pre-printing would keep his costs more in line with his budget.


Steve writes his newsletter copy on the computer directly into the Publisher template. This accomplishes two important things.

First, it makes him write shorter copy because the template only accepts so many words per section. (He could fudge and make the sections longer, but he wisely chooses not to.) This increases readability by preventing long, gray copy that is not fun to read. And that increases readership, which is the whole idea.

Second, it saves time. Steve says he finds typing the copy right in the Publisher template is fairly easy and doesn't take much longer than typing the copy in his regular word processing program. How does that save time? His secretary, Ruth Bontrager, doesn't have to format the newsletter after he's prepared the copy. Two steps have become one, and Ruth has more time for other things.

Web Publishing

This one is still up in the air and may take a little work and better understanding of Publisher. But in some simple tests it appears that producing a paper newsletter in Publisher makes it easier to produce a Web version. From my own experiences, I've found that a Web newsletter produced in Publisher converts to a paper newsletter better than the other way around.

Check it out. And I'd love to hear from any of you who have experimented with (or succeeded at) taking Publisher-produced paper newsletters to the Web. I'll share what you've learned in "On Target."

I'd like to thank Melinda Bradbury (AgIS) for a technical review of this article and for her input on Microsoft Publisher.

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Grammar Trap: Capital vs. Capitol

This one always gives me fits, and I live in fear that I'll miss it in manuscripts I'm editing. (Maybe writing about it will help me.)

The noun "capital" has several meanings. For example, it can mean an upper case letter, the top part of a column, money, or the city where a seat of government is located. It's the last meaning that's the real "trap" and that causes the most confusion.

Example: Washington D.C. is our nation's capital. (Notice that "capital" is not capitalized.)

Then there's "capitol," a building in which legislative bodies meet or where functions of government are carried out.

Example: The U.S. Congress meets in the Capitol, which is in Washington D.C., our nation's capital. (Notice that "Capitol" is capitalized.)

Got it? In this context, the noun "capital" means the city. "Capitol" means the building.

If there's a grammar (or usage) trap you'd like me to discuss, or if you have a tip that will help the rest of us avoid one, please let me know.

Visit the Grammar Traps Web site for past Grammar Traps.

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June 2000

Purdue University Agricultural Communication
An electronic newsletter with communication tips and information