August 2001
Issue 8
Volume 6
 
 
 

New Look, Feel, & Function for Our Web Version
Headings & How They Help
Participating in a Two-Way Videoconference: The Basics
Grammar Trap: Discrete vs. Discreet


New Look, Feel, & Function for Our Web Version

If you haven’t checked us out on the Web <http://www.agcom.purdue.edu/AgCom/library/ontarget/index.html> lately, you’ve got a surprise in store. "On Target" has a brighter, more colorful look and feel, thanks to Ag Comm designer Dan Annarino.

It was about time. We started sending "On Target" as e-mail at the end of 1995, and, when we began posting it a few years later, we just borrowed a graphic from an old Ag Comm brochure.

You’ll notice that, although our look is new, we kept the "target" idea. (Designers call this establishing and maintaining "equity," and it’s something everyone should remember when they want to give their communication pieces a fresh look.)

You wouldn’t be able to enjoy our new look if it weren’t for Ag Comm Web developer Mike Atwell, who made sure the bars "roll over," the links link, and the whole site makes sense. Best of all, he added a search function so that users can do both simple and advanced searches of all 5 plus years of "On Target" (and counting).

Whether you check out the July issue, the "Back Issues" site, the "Grammar Traps" site, or the "Search" site, we think you’ll like what you find.

Ag Comm "On Target" Team


Headings & How They Help

Headings and subheadings help readers and writers of expository, informational prose so much that it’s a shame more writers don’t take advantage of them.

Help for Readers

Headings and subheadings "digest" your information for your readers. They are signposts that help readers navigate through your text and that spell out the relationships among your ideas. They direct readers’ attention to your most important points and tell them "how to read" what you have written.

Headings and subheadings also give your readers a break by reducing and relieving the "textual tedium" that comes from long, unbroken sequences of paragraph, after paragraph, after paragraph.

Help for Writers

Headings and subheadings help you, as writers, ensure that your information is organized logically and clearly.

You can tell whether or not you have a logical and clear organization by "pulling" your headings and subheadings out of your text. If, arrayed by themselves, they look and function like a good, comprehensive outline of your material, you’re in business. If they don’t, you have some revising to do.

Perhaps you do not have enough headings and/or subheadings to cover all of your material, or perhaps you’ve forgotten to include something.

It could be that your sections are not arranged in the best order and that what you discussed last should appear earlier in your discussion.

Or maybe your hierarchy of headings and subheadings should be adjusted. That is, something that you have treated as a primary- or first-level heading is "really" a second-level subheading (or vice versa).

A word to the wise when it comes to second- and third-level subheadings. You must provide at least two sections with subheadings when you "divide" a larger section, because the result of division must logically be more than a single unit. (If you can’t come up with a second subheading, maybe subheadings are, in that case, inappropriate, and you should consider rewriting your higher level heading, instead.)

Whether you’re writing a journal article or an Extension publication, headings and subheadings will help you put your points across more effectively. It only makes sense to use them.

Laura Hoelscher <lah@purdue.edu>


Participating in a Two-Way Videoconference: The Basics

You’ve been asked individually to participate in a videoconference or asked to organize a group at a site. You’re not hosting the videoconference, just participating. So your job is just to show up, sit down, and watch, right? Not exactly.

Here are some basic tips about participating in a two-way videoconference.

The Technology

Make sure you’re familiar with the technology. If you’re not, meet ahead of time with someone who is.

Seating

Arrange the seats in the room for best viewing of the TV monitor.

Try to sit together and not spread out. Avoid sitting so that you are blocked from camera view. It’s best if the camera has a clear shot of each individual. Stagger the seating to avoid having people block each other from camera view.

Avoid having people in your group sit in front of bright windows so the lens in the camera will not make them look silhouetted.

Audio

Audio has priority in a two-way videoconference, so, when someone at another site is giving a lengthy presentation, mute or turn off your microphone. This will prevent having your site pop on screen if someone in your group coughs or makes an off-hand comment to a neighbor. When the microphone is open, avoid unnecessary talking.

Video

Always act as if you’re on live TV. Whoever speaks last during a multi-site videoconference stays on the screen until someone else speaks. So act as if people are watching you–all the time. Avoid making gestures or having a bored look on your face, too. Stay engaged.

TV is an expressive medium, so make eye contact. Look at your camera when talking to other sites to simulate that face-to-face contact you get at a face-to-face meeting.

Problems

As with most new technologies, there can be problems. Have technical trouble phone numbers ready just in case. Also, make a back-up plan. For example, have a speakerphone ready, and ask the originating site to provide you with any materials in advance.

Follow these simple steps, and you’ll have a more satisfying experience as you participate in a two-way videoconference.

Randy Spears


Grammar Trap: Discrete vs. Discreet

Two adjectives pronounced the same and, save for the transposition of two measly letters, spelled the same, too. This increases the risk that you’ll use one when you mean the other.

"Discrete" means separate, distinct, or individual.

Example: They worked as discrete individuals with their own agendas rather than as a team.

"Discreet," on the other hand, means to be prudent or show good judgment, to have, well, discretion.

Example: I’m too discreet to mention which of my colleagues got these two words mixed up.

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

Visit <../grammartrap/index.html> for past "Grammar Traps."

Laura Hoelscher <lah@purdue.edu>