Journalists, academics, and Wikipedia contributors have widely varying abilities to put together coherent sentences, but they all know this: Unless it’s a firsthand account, something stated as a fact, without a source to back it up, is merely an opinion.

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Anyone who’s been working in a digital-based industry for some time knows that User Experience (UX) is one of the hottest buzzwords around the office. Everything from website design to marketing campaigns is being constructed based on the principles of UX, which essentially focuses on making content easy to understand, access, and navigate for the consumer.

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I used to think I was a great writer.

Of course, that was back in eighth grade, before I had any serious education or formal training in the craft. Back then, all it took to be a great writer (in my mind, at least) was a great vocabulary and a desire to cram big words into small thoughts.

Ahh, it was a simpler time. You can imagine my surprise when I received feedback in my first serious writing class.

I saw red. Lots of red.

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Copywriting is a peculiar thing.

Online copy and business-directed content don’t follow the same rules as other literary and journalistic works. Copywriting is looser in many ways, and it offers more flexibility in tone and style.

However, this doesn’t mean that you can cram your writing with whatever you want and expect it to work for your clients. The goal of most online copy is to educate and engage a readership about a topic, and just slapping words on a screen won’t do the trick.

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Upon receiving my edits on an academic paper recently, the author—a non-native English speaker—questioned why I had changed “for reason of” to “for reasons of,” when there was only one reason cited in that sentence. It was a reasonable question for which I didn’t have a good answer, except that “for reasons of” is much more commonly used in English and therefore “for reason of” just doesn’t look right. Knowing this explanation would be wholly unsatisfying, I then suggested “because of” as an alternative, which probably is what I should have changed it to in the first place.

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They’re tried-and-true, but they’ve been around the block a few times. They’re shopworn, threadbare, and coming apart at the seams. It’s time to put them out to pasture.

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