[Name of Business]

The Pitfalls of Copy-and-Paste

I fell victim to my own copy-and-paste transgressions this week. I’m not really surprised that it happened, but rather, that it took so long to happen.

I’m working on a feature story about locally-owned bakeries for the upcoming spring/summer issue of our visitor magazine and have been reaching out primarily through Facebook and website contact forms to set up interviews. Yesterday, I sent out the following:

I’m the Senior Content Writer/Editor for BHV magazine. We are planning on doing a feature story on local bakeries in our upcoming Spring/Summer issue and would like to include name of business. Would you have time to meet with me for a few brief questions about your business? If so, let me know if there is a day and time that would be convenient for you.

I spotted my error two seconds after hitting SEND. Sadly, you can’t unsend something on Messenger. Remember when Harry tried to retract his assertion that men and women can’t be friends in When Harry Met Sally and Sally said “you can’t take it back” because “it’s already out there”? Same concept here. Once words have been typed and sent out into the webisphere, you can’t take them back. They’re already out there.

Armed with the irrefutable knowledge that I couldn’t take them back, I did the next best thing: tried to deflect attention from the fact that they had ever appeared by immediately following up with another message. I told them that I’m a big fan of [actual name of business] and no story about Black Hills bakeries would ever be complete without a mention of [actual name of business]. In other words, I pulled out all the stops and kissed ass like crazy.

copypaste

I was sincere in what I said. These guys have been in business longer than any other bakery in town. We used to buy donuts and cakes from them when my dad was stationed at Ellsworth AFB, and that was…

Well. A long time ago, rest assured.

Fortunately, if they noticed my gaffe, they were too polite to point it out. They got back to me and we have an interview scheduled for Thursday morning.

I just really need to be very careful before hitting SEND!

Am I Justified?

I’ve been having an internal conflict over text alignment lately. I’m pretty sure this is something only a writer or designer would think about.

I’m either very visually/spatially oriented or simply neurotic. (For the record, I hope it’s the former. Therapy is expensive.) In any case, for years I have been using justified text on my blog. In case you’re unfamiliar with the term, justified text is aligned with both left and right margins and white space is added between words in order to make all lines equal. I like it because it looks cleaner and neater, though some people find the extra spacing distracting. This paragraph is justified.

By contrast, left-aligned text—as the name implies—is aligned with the left side of the page, leaving a ragged right edge. The ragged edge adds an element of white space. Left-aligned text is considered more informal and friendlier than justified text, and some people consider it easier to read. This paragraph is left-aligned.

Right-aligned text is another option. In this layout, text is aligned with the right side of the page, leaving a ragged left edge. Unless you’re wrapping text around a photo positioned on the left side of the page, I find no earthly reason to ever use right-aligned text. It makes me want to gouge my eyes out, actually. This paragraph is right-aligned.

You can even center-align text, but unless you’re writing a headline, I don’t see the point. This paragraph is center-aligned.

Arguments can be made for either of the first two options, I suppose. Typically, blogs are left-aligned. Informal and friendlier, right? I’ve always been a very organized, detail-oriented person, which is why I’m drawn to justified text. But I am curious to learn what you, as readers, prefer. Does justified text make you cringe, or is it something you’ve never even paid attention to before? If you guys prefer left-aligned text, I am open to change.

Feel free to weigh in with your thoughts. While you’re at it, I’d love to know if you have ever sent an email you wish you could take back.

 

20 Comments on “[Name of Business]

  1. I do get a little distracted by justified text at times. It does look nice, on the whole, but I prefer standard left because I don’t have to think about it. Or notice it.
    Okay, here’s a doozy for you. A coworker writes press releases. It’s my job to proofread them and then ship them out. A media person wrote back that he’d be running the p.r. but wanted to let me know he first added the missing letter “l” to the word public.

    Yep.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Those mistakes are easy to do. I think I’ve received form letters like that, which is really bad because someone had to fold and stuff envelopes and still not notice!

    I like left aligned and justified, but I’m also a fan of center align and use it on my blog at times. Justified looks good on your blog, but I’ve seen it with ridiculous spacing in newspapers where they’ve tried to compensate by putting a half space between letters in words!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think if you’re adding a lot of centered photos on a blog post, centered text looks good and makes sense. Thank you for your input!

      Like

  3. Honestly Mark, I have no idea what it is that you’re referring to because I read your email FOUR times and couldn’t see a single error, it looks perfect to me.

    And yes, I’ve not only sent an email in which I made a mistake (such as a typo), but also on my blog. I’ve done that many times. But I’ve also seen typos and mistakes on other blogs as well (from bloggers who are professional writers). I mean, stuff like that happens to anyone.

    Like

  4. I default to left-justified. I’m ok with full justified, but occasionally the spacing gets a tad excessive, especially with three or four columns and big words. Center justified is good for captions, or maybe occasionally short, single sentences, depending on context. I actually used center at the end of my latest post – just thought it looked better. Right is wrong…

    Liked by 1 person

    • The only time I really despise full justification is when there are two long words separated by a /. Sure, you can insert spacing, but technically that’s grammatically incorrect.

      The people have spoken, here and on Facebook, and it’s pretty apparent I’m going to have to start posting left-justified text.

      Like

  5. Oh no. We spent most of podcast 18 (“Semicolon”) discussing punctuation marks because I felt like a loser (that is to say, I felt like I wasn’t a real writer) for not having a favorite punctuation mark. Now I feel that doubly so because I don’t have a preferred text justification! Even the husband has a strong predilection for full justification. I’m going to have to engage in a lot of positive self-talk today to keep my spirits up. 😉 One positive: I’m very fussy about word choice – in my own writing and others. That’s gotta count for something, right?!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Definitely! Words are more important than punctuation IMHO. Having said that, I’ve gotta go with ellipses as my favorite punctuation mark. They’re a good way to separate two distinct thoughts without resorting to white space, and also, very effective at conveying meaning without actually coming out and saying it…

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I’m a lefter, except professionally, which often looks better justified. Right alignment can just die. What even is the point? Not much a an of center, either, although it supports some poetry…

    I am sorry for your error Name of Business, and cringe with you. Sometimes it’s like that though, and you did a great job of offering your sincere appreciation for Name of Business, and now you have the gig 😀 Well done!

    Liked by 1 person

    • The majority are pro-left alignment but nobody likes right. I wonder if it’s different in Japan, where they read text right to left? Hmm…

      Like

  7. Mark, This is a great reminder for all of us to reread before hitting ‘send.’ I had not really given text alignment much thought. Now that I see what you mean, I won’t be able to erase the images of the various alignments.

    Your last sentence reminds me of a text incident many years ago. I sent a supportive, very personal text to a friend going through a crisis. A short while later I received a text back from a stranger letting me know they had received my text by mistake. They wanted to make sure my friend in crisis would receive my message. This is an example of a text going wrong, then going right and briefly connecting with a caring stranger in cyberspace. Reinforces my faith in humankind. Thanks for jogging my memory, Mark.🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wow, now I feel really bad. I received a wrong text once and ended up playing a practical joke on the sender, lol. But all turned out well in the end and they laughed about it.

      Liked by 1 person

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