Last month I had a client call and report that she had a new staff member who was an awesome writer. “Would it be okay if he did some of their collateral and then have me edit it?” she asked.
Even if you decide to write your own marketing materials, having them edited and proofed by a third-party unbiased professional is an important and critical step to publishing. When I reviewed his materials I found repeated inconsistencies in usage of style (serial commas, hyphenation, ordinals, abbreviations, etc.). I prefer to follow the guidelines published by the Associated Press in their Stylebook and Libel Manual. These are the same rules that most reporters use and there is a special section dedicating to writing for business. The book is updated frequently (2007 release scheduled for this summer) to account for the ever-expanding English language. I still have my 1988 edition but it doesn’t quite address the new terminology of the Internet age as well as the 2006 version.
Will purchasing an AP Stylebook make you a great writer? Probably not, but it will help to ensure a professional appearance to whatever you may be creating. And it would have solved the problem of another client who called yesterday to inquire: Is it better to abbreviate 1,000,000 as 1M or 1MM? AP says neither; write it out as 1 million.