Agricultural Communications, Purdue University
An electronic newsletter with communication tips and information

July 1997

From the "On Target" Team

One More Time

Well, it's July, and summer has finally arrived. That means two things: the swallows have already returned to Capistrano, and it's time for summer reruns on TV and in "On Target." Over the next several months, we're going to rerun an article each issue from "Communiqué," our hard-copy predecessor. We'll choose articles on issues that are still timely and important, like our rerun this month, excerpted from a piece on non-sexist language.

Slight Change in Plans

The second installment of "Spam Attack" we promised for this issue has been postponed. Look for it next month.

Non-Sexist Language Tips

The most basic principle involved in non-sexist writing is equal treatment. Often it is difficult to break old habits. But there are ways to manage non-sexist language without being obvious or making it difficult. Here are a few tips.

If you write something about a woman, replace the name with a man's name. If it sounds odd, it's time to revise. For example, there is no point in mentioning that a woman is an attractive wife and mother unless you would also say her male counterpart is a handsome husband and father. Also, avoid stereotypical language such as "typical male brutality."

Most gender-linked occupational terms have easy non-sexist equivalents: man-made/artificial; cleaning lady/housekeeper; manned/staffed; stewardess/flight attendant; workman/worker; man's history/human history; mailman/mail carrier; foreman/supervisor; policeman/police officer; congressman/member of Congress or representative. Use them when you can.

You can handle pronouns in one of three ways:

  1. Use "she or he" (or "he or she") when referring to a person whose gender is unspecified. If this seems awkward or wordy, try option #2.
  2. Use plural nouns and pronouns. For example, "All drivers should fasten their seat belts before starting their automobiles."
  3. Use the pronoun "you." Before you start your automobile engine, you should buckle your seat belt. Switching from third person to second won't work in all situations, but it is appropriate for most.

These are easy changes. And they're worth making.

(Excerpted from"Communiqué," Winter, 1992)

Getting Video Footage from TV

It was on the news last night--the very story that would be perfect material for your next meeting. But you didn't get the VCR in record mode fast enough. Okay, so how do you get a copy of the footage?

Find the Source

To find out how to contact the network source, call a local affiliate station for a phone number or address. Another source is the Internet. Check out the network's Web sites for information.

Put It in Writing

When you write for the footage, explain where and how you will use it. This is important when the news source considers your request. In most cases, an archivist or news editor will review your request, but in some instances, requests will have to be reviewed by someone in their legal department.

Tell them the video format you need. If you want to use the footage in a meeting, perhaps a VHS copy would be sufficient. If you plan on using the footage in an educational video, you'll want to get a broadcast-quality recording (Betacam or 3/4") of the material.

Start the Ball Rolling

Get your request in as soon as possible. It will take time to review your request, and it will also take time for the footage to be retrieved and dubbed.

Pay the Price

You'll find out very quickly that getting footage from a network could cost you some serious dollars.

If you just want to use the footage in an educational meeting, a VHS copy will most likely be cheaper. For instance, a VHS copy of NBC's "Dateline" costs only $29.95. (Remember that there are probably restrictions on the type usage for this sort of copy.)

Cost for copies in a broadcast-quality format can vary. ABC charges $50 for a VHS copy of some of their programs and $150 for Betacam. NBC's "Dateline" charges up to $550 for 30 seconds of footage.

Think Locally

If you live in a large enough city, perhaps the local TV station can become a source. Generally, they charge less than the networks. Many stations run a news monitoring service or have one under contract. To get footage from a local broadcast, contact your local TV station for details.

Choosing and Using Electronic Graphics for Print

Format Choices

Today, with such a large variety of graphics and computer platforms, it's easy to become confused by all the formats and acronyms.

This article discusses the basic graphic file formats available and then focuses on which formats work best for print.

For starters, let's list the basic graphic formats. On the MacIntosh platform there are TIFF, PICT, EPS, JPEG, and GIF file formats. The DOS /Windows and UNIX platforms use TIF, PIC, EPS, PCX, JPEG, GIF, and BMP. Most can be recognized by the suffix on the file name (e.g., "flowers.TIF" or "flowers.BMP").

In many instances, the platform you use restricts your choice of graphic formats. Another important factor is your end product. So, when you begin your project, ask yourself what your final product will be. That will help you choose which format to use.

Formats for Print

These days, there are three primary types of end products in which graphics appear: print (ink/toner on paper), presentations (electronic/transparency delivery), and World Wide Web pages/multimedia.

Print's still the most common, so let's start there. Newsletters, brochures, and handouts are just some of the print products that desktop publishing creates. Publishing software such as Adobe PageMaker®, WordPerfect®, and MicroSoft Word/Word for Windows® require the graphics to be saved in a TIF, PIC, EPS, or (specifically in the Windows® environment) BMP format.

Publishing software programs are designed to output high-resolution, high-quality print materials from both laser and commercial offset printers. TIF, PIC, and BMP formats yield good results in desktop publishing. But in the higher world of commercial printing, EPS has an edge.

Why? Postscript® is the language that drives the printers prepress (negatives) output. EPS, which stands for "Encapsulated PostScript," is much more time-efficient in file loading and processing. The size of the EPS graphic file tends to be a little larger, but it saves time in the film output stage. And at a commercial printer, time is money--ultimately, your time and your money.

Future installments will cover choosing the most appropriate graphics formats for electronic presentations (e.g., PowerPoint) and for Web/multimedia development.

Grammar Trap: Principal vs. Principle

Two different words with two different meanings, but they look similar and sound virtually indistinguishable. How do you tell them apart?

"Principal" means first in rank, importance, or consequence. It can be a noun or an adjective.

Examples: He is the principal of the high school. She was the principal investigator on the research project.

"Principle," on the other hand, is a noun meaning a fundamental truth, motivating force, or rule of conduct.

Example: The most basic principle involved in non-sexist writing is equal treatment.

Tip #1: The principal of the school is the students' pal. (Okay, okay. It's sappy, but it's a handy mnemonic device, anyway.)

Tip # 2: Principle and rule both end in "le."

Thanks to Karl Brandt, Academic Programs, for suggesting this topic, and to Jim Gilligan, Ag Communication, for the "le" rule. If there's a grammar (or usage) trap you'd like me to discuss or you have a tip that will help the rest of us avoid one, please let me know.

We want to hear from you. Do you have a communication question? Do you have a comment on this issue of "On Target"? If so, please e-mail any of our writers.

It is the policy of the Department of Agricultural Communication Service of Purdue University that all persons shall have equal opportunity and access to its programs and facilities without regard to race, color, sex, religion, national origin, age or disability. Purdue University is an Affirmative Action employer. These materials may be available in alternative formats.