Friday, 17 August 2018

Resources for Writers and Editors

This information is selected and evaluated for reliability, currency, and usability. Please feel free to make use of — and suggest additions to this resource.

Reference Desk Subject Starters Articles

Librarians' Index to the Internet
TPL: Virtual Reference Library
The Library of Congress
Content Spotlight
Single Search Engines

Meta Search Engines

Writing for the Web

Google Scholar
Search Engine Showdown
Writing Microcontent
Quality Web Content

Content Journals Industry Research
Merriam-Webster Online
Infoplease Encyclopedia
All Things Web
Topic Based Search Engines and Databases [US]
Jupiter Media Metrix
Search Engine Watch
Calendars/Quotations Copyright/Citation Information Geographical References
B'nai B'rith
Electronic Copyright Law
Copyright Website
US Copyright Office
Chicago Citation Style
National Geographic
About: Geography
Infoplease Atlas
Style/Grammar Guides Proofreading   HTML Guides 
Guide to Grammar & Writing
APA Style Guide
Grammar Check
Benefits of Proofreading
Proofreading Symbols & Abbreviations
Proofreaders' Marks
ASCII Symbols
HTML Tips and Tricks
Industry Journals

Quick Facts & Historical Reference


A List Apart
Wired News
E-Commerce News

Ask Jeeves
The History Channel
The History Net
Information Week Online
Web-Site Usability

Sun Microsystems
Content Usability Study

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Web Development Technical Guidelines

1. Hosting Environment 

Web Server Operating System

Web Server Software

Scripting Environment

2. Target Audience Configuration Assumptions

Browser Information including browser, OS Platform, Screen and Colour Statistics.

3. HTML Component

W3C Standard web design and applications such as HTML & CSS.

4. File and Folder Structure and Naming
The site will make use of the following principals of File and Folder Structure and Naming.

File/Folder Structure

The directory structure created for a Web site must be created logically, and must have a structure dictated by the site's generalized elements and content types.

The following sample directory structure demonstrates an element-dictated structure:






/wwwroot /content_directory1/images/*.gif

/wwwroot /content_directory2/

/wwwroot /content_directory2/*.html

/wwwroot /content_directory/images/*.gif

The root directory contains all sub-directories files related to the Web site. For readability and clarity, the application root directory should be named in a way that conveys what the site is about, for example /sitename/. Application root folder names that might be misidentified should be avoided.

Naming Conventions

Directory and file names should be long and descriptive (within reason), ensuring that navigation and file identification by site administrators is as simple as possible. Spaces in directory and file names must be avoided; however a series of words in names may be delimited by the underscore symbol _.

Basic Naming Principles

  • no spaces in file names
  • meaningful file and directory names
  • .html file extension for all HTML files (consistency)
  • subdirectory whenever there is a significant number of similar files (breadth vs. depth)
  • should always be a top level file called index.html or default.html, even if it is a pointer to another file
  • directories should have first letter capitalized
  • files names should be all lower case
  • multiple word file names linked with underscore (_ not -)

Case Conventions

Consistency of character case is imperative. The following conventions should be used:

FILE NAMES: all lowercase characters; multiple word names should be separated with the underscore (_). For example: sitename_listen.html

DIRECTORY NAMES: All site directory names should be lowercase. In the case of multiple word names each new word should be separated with an underscore. For example: sitename_listen.

5. Navigation Systems

There are 3 general characteristics of Web site navigation systems: information organizational strategytechnical implementation, and the user interface.

Organizational Strategy

The typical structure of a web site is a hierarchy with multiple levels and sections of content. Site structures generally allow users to navigate through information, moving from general topics to specific elements and facts. Each time a user clicks on a heading to obtain more specific information, they move down a 'level' in the site's hierarchy. Each time a user clicks to access information found under a different information type, they move across content sections. To maximize usability, an effective navigation system should allow for both types of movement. Users must be able to navigate freely through content sections and levels, in a consistent and continuous manner.

For the site, the main content sections will dictate the global navigational headings, and therefore represent the first level of the site after the user has reached the main page. Within each global navigation heading will be associated subheadings corresponding to the second, and then third, fourth, etc. levels of the web site. The navigation system should allow users access to all of the site's information, easy identification of location, no disorientation, and facilitate easy navigation between levels and sections.

Technical Implementation

The navigation system for the [insert site name here] site can use graphical icons, standard HTML hypertext, and JavaScript rollovers to provide global and sub-navigation opportunities to users. The global (top level) navigation elements can use graphical icons and JavaScript rollovers, while sub-level navigation can be HTML hypertext.

Basic Functionality

Graphical icons created for the global level content sections can use JavaScript rollovers to swap icons on mouseover events, adding flair and interactivity to the interface. Provided that JavaScript is enabled, most commonly used browsers and platforms can accommodate this JavaScript functionality. Users interact with the menu system by moving the mouse over the main navigational headings and clicking on them. The sub-navigation elements on a selected page reflect the user's location in the site. Navigation in levels deeper than the second or third levels is handled locally within the content section. This can be through the use of additional icons, simple hypertext links, or drop-down menu boxes.

6. Additional Functionality

  • Google search
  • HTML-based forms and associated form handling scripts
  • Tools that facilitate the administration of the site
  • Multimedia components and functionality
  • Database interaction
  • Dynamic page / site generation
  • Personalization
  • Cookies
  • Surveys, quizzes, random panels
  • Social media marketing.

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Thursday, 7 June 2018

Still fighting for our rights

They tried to bury us. They didn't know we were seeds

In my reality, it's 1967,  Pata Pata is Number One, Miriam Makeba and Stokely Carmichael are crazy in love. The The Black Power Revolution (Trinidad February 1970) exposes the fact that people around me are being treated differently based solely on what they look like, the colour of their skin. 

In my Nelson's West Indian Reader the Atlantic Slave Trade that brought us across the Atlantic Ocean from the 15th through 19th century seem so far away.

This happened and everyone knows. Finally an apology from the Colonial powers would bring reconciliation.

But it wasn't all over and forgotten.

It's 1996 and Tracy Chapman is still talking about the revolution and flash forward to 2016 and the Trump vs Clinton US election exposes what we knew had not been reconciled.

The underbelly of Hate exposes the truth we have been ignoring – the truth that we all discriminate and we use these tactics to separate, to dominate, to take selfish advantage.

As the visible minority know, this is what you live with everyday. When someone tells you, you're being too sensitive or you're imagining those indiscretions, we can all agree that being ignored, belittled or disrespected did not start with Trump.

We are fortunate to live in a place where the Ontario Human Rights Code gives us a set of rules to live by.
Every person has a right to equal treatment with respect to services, goods and facilities, without discrimination because of race, ancestry, place of origin, colour, ethnic origin, citizenship, creed, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, age, marital status, family status or disability.

The Women's March Toronto January 21st 2017 protest, prompted by Trump's victory, we stood up for women’s rights everywhere.

Women's Rights are Human Rights

I can't believe we are still fighting for Women's rights, Gay rights, Religious rights, ethnic rights

Stop racism. Stop misogyny

MSIT NO 'KMAQ means recognizing and acknowledging the living spirit within all things, encompassing the entire animal kingdom, the spirit within plants, rocks and waters of our world

I share this haiku, written by Teresa Fisico so eloquently expresses our Canadian dream:

"Sea to Sea to Sea.
Diversity defines us.
The Land unites us."

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Tuesday, 5 June 2018

The Creative Brief: 10 questions I ask before starting a project

It's Game on for Youth Soccer fans at The North Toronto Soccer Club starting every Spring.

Writing a Creative Brief helps to summarize all the factors that can impact your communications strategy and the development of a website or product.

10 things you need to know:

1. Company Background
  • Corporate and industry descriptions. What's your business? 
  • Description of the competition. What are you offering that's different?
  • Contact information:
    - who are the decision makers, who´s responsible for what
    - are their any other outside contractors working on the project or materials produced to date that we should be aware of
    - how much time can you commit to this?

2. Project Overview
  • Mission statement. SWOT:  Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats
  • Branding. Is there existing direction or existing assets?
  • What are the important factors for success
    for example
    - integrated web strategy & corporate strategy
    - a web strategy to fit your marketing plans
    - Renovation. repurposing of existing content or information
    - creating a community for dedicated visitors
    - a quality multimedia experience (well executed graphics, writing, navigation)
    - Speed. I'm in a rush to market
    - ease of maintenance
    - doing better than our competition on the web
    - staying within the budget
    - people bookmark the site because they get so much out of it regularly
    - sending the message that we know the web and use it appropriately
  • Are there any plans to measure success

3. Project Goals or Objectives
  • What are the basic goals of this project:
    for example
    - branding and identity reinforcement
    - improving access to information. collect and distribute information
    - online sales, direct sales
    - corporate communication. interacting with customers.

4. Target Audiences
  • Primary web audiences 
  • Secondary web audiences
  • Who is the audience. Who do we want to attract
  • What are the different groups within the audience(s)
  • What jobs/functions/activities do they perform
  • Are they in one or more locations (depts, countries, companies, facilities)
  • Do we have a multilingual audience
Requirements for using/accessing information
  • Will the web site be used for:
    - providing or acquiring product information
    - purchasing products/services
    - answer questions for themselves and others
    - locate related resources
    - gain new knowledge and skills
    - perform procedures
    - conduct research
Knowledge of content
  • What is the primary web audience's knowledge of the content:
    - is it new to them
    - are they familiar with the content
  • What is the secondary web audience's knowledge of the content:
    - is it new to them
    - are they familiar with the content
Experience with technology
  • What is the comfort level with the web and the browser
  • What kind of browsers are they likely to use
  • Are there bandwidth or download issues to consider
  • Is the audience comfortable using a search function and other interactive features
  • Will the audience need to print what they see on the web.

5. Information Summary
What information needs to be included
  • Where will the information come from
  • does the information already exist
  • in what format does it exist.
    How will it be supplied:
    - brochures, current web site, define electronic format and delivery
  • Do we need to:
    - create new content. Writer required.
    - edit existing content. Editor required. 
  • Does video, audio, graphics or animation need to be created to support the topics.
    - Does any already exist. How much and in what form?
Ownership of information
  • Did the information come from inside the company
  • Do we have permission to use it
  • Are there sensitivities regarding the approval process within different business units or partner arrangements
Updates/revisions needed
  • Is any information provided not appropriate for the web
  • How many sets of revisions are anticipated before the information is ready for development
  • Is the information static or dynamic or a combination
  • How often are updates and revisions required
  • Who will be responsible for updates
  • Is the information currently accurate.

6. Branding: Desired Image Attributes
This provides guidance for the tone and manner of the organization's communications and function as criteria for the development and evaluation of the site.
  • Define the image attributes. What it is, what it isn't.
  • Provide illustrative tips for visually (assist in look and feel) and verbally (assist in copy development) defining your desired image attributes.
  • What qualities do you want to emulate on your web site.
  • What sites or companies.

Here are some examples of image attributes

A world-class corporation whose operating companies have recognized reputations and proven track records of performance, experience and expertise in energy transportation, distribution and related services.
  • high quality production and paper stocks
  • use of imagery
  • full colour
  • copy should be, forward-focused, while referencing past successes
  • reference entire organization to convey breadth, depth and expertise
Leading IS:
  • Well-regarded. Evolving. Experienced. Skilled. Visionary. Wise
Leading IS NOT:
  • Complacent. Rigid. Arrogant. Bureaucratic. Risk-averse
A company with the momentum, insight and motivation to continually meet the challenges and seize the opportunities of the evolving energy industry.
  • expansive layouts
  • ample "white space"
  • graphic representations of growth (e.g. charts, maps)
  • speak of initiatives throughout the organization
  • use benchmark measurements to illustrate improvements and set context for growth
Growing IS: 
  • Energetic. Agile. Strategic. International. Proactive. Opportunistic
Growing IS NOT:
  • Unfocused. Reactive. Staid. Short-sighted. Impulsive
A market-oriented company that delivers results and satisfaction by anticipating and meeting customers' needs , requirements and expectations.
  • active people-based illustration and photography
  • developed friendly graphics, clear lines and simple layouts
  • use clear, professional language that communicates expertise and demonstrates understanding
  • benefit-driven copy and headlines
Customer-focused IS:
  • Responsive. Flexible. Understanding. Accessible. Cooperative. Knowledgeable
Customer-focused IS NOT:
  • Inwardly-focused. Condescending. Presumptuous. Complicated. Remote. Uncompromising
A consistently dependable and trusted company that is focused, financially sound, socially responsible and ethically credible.
  • bold use of colour, shapes and graphics
  • use a crisp, confident tone without appearing arrogant
  • use bulleted text to emphasize key points
  • avoid flowery, overly-descriptive prose
Strong IS:
  • Established. Trustworthy. Responsible. Stable. Honest. Consistent
Strong IS NOT:
  • Overbearing. Insincere. Flighty. Over extended. Invincible
A forward thinking, technologically astute company that finds creative, progressive ways to better serve its customers, improve operations and deliver value.
  • unusual cropping of imagery
  • unexpected combinations creating visual interest
  • develop refreshing uses of well known concepts
  • provide status reports and updates
  • solicit input and utilize interactive and electronic formats (e.g. Q & A, intranet)
Innovative IS:
  • Progressive. Leading-edge. Continually improving. Incremental. Creative. Inquisitive
Innovative IS NOT:
  • Traditional. Confined. Historic. Satisfied. Finished


Provide your overall favourite sites and reasons for your choices
- colours, look and feel, user interface, layout
- size of site
- publishing model
- quality of graphics and content
- functional elements.

7. Functionality
  • What functional requirements do you believe are necessary
  • What do you want your visitors to be able to do at the site:
    - download areas (extranet)
    - database-driven
    - catalog, e-commerce
    - applications
    - submit forms
  • Who will update and maintain functionality
  • Are there any security issues or considerations
  • Have you budgeted for hosting and maintenance of the site
  • How will the site be served/hosted
  • What type of database systems are in place
  • What is your longterm plan for the site
  • online catalog of products and have full e-commerce capabilities
  • input on surveys
  • enter contest or promotions
  • member account services including the V.I.P.program.

8. Target Audience Configuration Assumptions 

Operating System and browser compatibility

What platform or device will your audience be viewing your materials on. eg standard desktop browser, laptop, ipad, mobile device etc. Browsers include Google Chrome, Firefox, Safari etc.

HTML Component examples
  • All HTML pages will minimally be developed using the W3C XTML standard. (displayed to end user as HTML 5)
  • Animated GIFs
  • CSS (cascading stylesheets) will be implemented to control the style of the Web documents without compromising its structure. By separating visual design elements (fonts, colors, margins, and so on) from the structural logic of a Web page, CSS gives visual control without sacrificing the integrity of the data - thus maintaining its usability in multiple environments. In addition, defining typographic design and page layout from within a single, distinct block of code - to minimize the use of image maps, <font> tags, tables, and spacer GIFs - allows for faster downloads, streamlined site maintenance, and instantaneous global control of design attributes across multiple pages.
  • JavaScript to extend the capabilities of HTML.
  • User interface rollovers, menu bars, page behaviour, and routines to create dynamic, user-centred design.
  • Layout & CSS scaling design, relative layout, conditional colours, and routines for scripting the design.

9. Final Deliverables
Expectations on project delivery:
  • Design prototype - HTML templates
  • Web Site design components (flattened or layered photoshop files, original jpegs, cut up and optimized graphics)
  • Other format considerations, (Print, TV/Video) branding across multiple media
  • Style Guide - document of development decisions
  • Site Inventory (print outs, style guide, site architecture, content inventory checklist)
  • Partnership considerations
  • Return of supplied materials.

10. Additional requirements
  • Competitive Analysis. What's the competition up to?
  • Search Engine Optimization [SEO]
  • Social Media marketing strategy.

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