You want an error-free publication. The primary aim of copyediting is to have an error-free publication. There’s an obvious match.
Speaking of obvious, nothing detracts from a message more than the prevalence of errors in spelling, grammar, punctuation, inconsistency in titling and numbering, or simply presenting incorrect information.
We know the rigors of editing and proofreading, as well as the immense rewards that come after doing it. Let’s just say that at Quantico, there’s a fine-tooth comb in every back pocket that’s not just for styling a coif. And we run these combs ruthlessly across every piece that comes through the agency. Be it mechanical editing, language editing, or content editing, inconsistencies are obvious to us. And so we do a great job distilling every piece to its finest form.
Copywriting is essentially using words to influence perceptions and generate meaning. Beyond that copywriting has an extremely noble purpose. It is a communicative aspect of your organization or yourself, and is therefore always saying something about you – when you want it to, and despite yourself. Copy – or the words used in a text – connects on two levels simultaneously.
At the first level, editing creates identification between its text and its intended audience through arrangement. Certain words, phrases, even punctuation, when combined in selected ways can powerfully impact people’s perceptions. Here’s an example of how two punctuation marks – the comma, and the colon – can change the entire context of a sentence.
A woman without her man is nothing.
A woman : without her, man is nothing.
Both sentences have the same words, in the same order. In fact, the words and their arrangement are identical. Insert two strategically placed punctuation marks, and the sentences are entirely opposing. This is an example of first-level connections. A person reading these sentences will identify with either the first or the second, or both and start to make sense of the words.
Editing at the second level generates meaning and evokes emotional responses based on the first level connections. Once we understand the context of copy, we start to attach meaning, perception, and socio-cultural perspectives to the words. In a patriarchal society, the second sentence may cause offense. Likewise in societies which make no distinction between gender rights, the first sentence may well result in negative backlashing.
Clever, funny, witty, even insightful words may create identification with audiences, but it is critical to understand that second-level connections will equally influence how well the overall message is received, processed, and placed in your audiences’ minds. There are too many examples of copy that has only taken the first level of connections into considerations, and have ignored, to their peril, the importance of the second level.
Copywriting is a delicate communication tool. It is based on language, and languages are culturally driven. An acceptable word in one language may mean something entirely different in an other.
When Chevrolet launched its Nova line of cars, people in the United States accepted the new-comer with enthusiasm and even pride. When Chevrolet launched in Spain, the snickers travelled from Seville to Zaragoza. Because Nova in Spanish literally means “won’t go.”
There are lots of talented writers in our world. Not all are copywriters. The ability to write in a language is an insufficient qualification to begin copywriting. Yet many pass themselves off as copywriters because they are able to write a funny, or witty tagline.
This is tantamount to someone claiming they are lion-trainers because they regularly visit the zoo. Like all specialized fields that require thorough and rigorous training, copywriting mandates an immersive knowledge and solid training to understand the power and impact of this skill.
The best copy creates connections. Copy that influences perceptions, appeals to emotions, builds experiences, validates existence, and speaks to your spirituality, is copy that is doing its job properly.
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