Archive

Activities, resources, and tools

We started our eNewsletter, Inside Jobs, in November 2021. Here are some highlights of what the year looked liked in our infancy.

November 2021. In a nutshell, we create technical, marketing, and business publications, infographics, print and eBooks, eLearning tools, and more. We’ve been at it for 35 years, but who’s counting?

December 2021. We created an infographic that compares our writing process to growing a garden. As we nurture the seedlings of ideas, the results we deliver are the product of a careful, methodical process.

January 2022. We developed The eLearning Companion to Career Success in 12 Easy Steps: A Journal. There’s a Self-Assessment; and there’s My Evolving Story, fill-in-the-blank prompts for writing your own success story.

February 2022. We explored new tools to create new products. Using Jutoh, we first created an eBook, A Step, a Stroll, a Blog, a Book: Collecting My Thoughts, and then created the print book. Both are now available for your reading pleasure.

March 2022. We shared excerpts from Living Well in Froggy’s World of Plenty: Sweet Talk to Read Aloud. In spite of the frivolity of the stories, we asked some sober questions: What toasts do you offer yourself and others? What work does your colony achieve? What hobby makes you limber, lively, and lovely? We’d love to know.

April 2022. You’ll find 20 books that open the mind, touch the heart, and inspire. What better way to spend a rainy day, a snowy day, a sunny day, or just about any day. For a brief description of these books, click here.

May 2022. We shared our spring cleaning tips for both the physical and digital workspace. Also, Judy shared her four books at a book signing and came away with stories you can only get when you venture outside your home office and interact with the world.

June 2022. We shared how it is important to clean out the items we no longer need so that we can be more open to receiving new items and ideas. After cleaning her office of some items that she no longer needed, she attended a crafting afternoon and found a new way to organize her ideas for a new book with a junk journal.

July 2022. Shenouda Associates shared some of the ways we maintain our focus in the office through taking classes outside of the home or indulging in a separate hobby. This month, Judy looked into turning Living Well in Froggy’s World of Plenty: Sweet Talk to Read Aloud into audio. To listen, click here.

August 2022. We spoke about how the end of summer can prompt us to keep learning. Parents get their kids ready for school. Everyone looks for opportunities to grow their professional development or simply look for a way to connect with other like-minded individuals, like at a book event.

September 2022. We looked back at how much knowledge was shared at the book event we attended in addition to how much fun we had meeting local authors and hearing them speak about their wares.

October 2022. We shared what could be our last outings into the great outdoors before the first snow fell. We also pointed out the joy of shopping locally and supporting the non-chain businesses in our community.

November 2022. Starts year two of Inside Jobs. We can’t wait to share with you what’s new.

To subscribe to Inside Jobs, our monthly newsletter, click here. To visit our website, click here.

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by Kerry Roberts, Guest Blogger

When the weather turns from cold to warm, there is an urge to open the windows and let some fresh air in. With that fresh air, we often find a need to clean. Start by wiping down surfaces, moving furniture to clean what is beneath, and reducing any clutter that may have built up over the winter months. Those steps and more can be done in your home office to help rejuvenate your space and welcome the summer months.

What else can you do to clean up your home office? Look no further than your own computer’s desktop.

  • Clean up your desktop, delete any files that are no longer needed, find permanent homes for the files you need to keep, and remove any shortcuts for applications you don’t need to access immediately.
  • Run a scan from your virus protection software to make sure your system is running at its best. After all, you can’t allow your computer to get sick.
  • Update your desktop image. Of course, your current desktop image is still the bee’s knees, but a change of view can keep your mind sharp as you continue to do your work during the coming summer months.

Once your computer is clean, you are ready to tackle this next season.

Declutter the view you see by cleaning up your desktop. (above)
A cleaner view means a clearer head when you sit down for work. (above)

What steps do you take to clean up your home office as part of spring cleaning? Share your tips and tricks in the Leave a Reply section below.


Judy’s Tips

While Kerry talked about cleaning space in the digital realm, here are my tips for managing paper stuff.

  • Use containers, such as boxes, bins, binders, trays, folders, and filing cabinets to store papers that are organized in a way that makes sense for you. For some ideas on ways to organize content, take a look here and here.   
  • During your seasonal cleanup, check the various containers. I learned from organizing guru Marie Kondo to keep what brings you joy. Maybe it’s a special note. I keep those in a feel good folder. Retain the papers for works in progress and, of course, keep business and other important records for as long as they are needed. Refer to record retention guidelines that are pertinent to your situation. When you determine that papers can be tossed, use your discretion. Depending on the content, know what to tear or shred or burn.
  • Remember the idiom, One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Look at your bookshelf. Do you really need that grammar book from junior high school or that reference book you have not opened in years? If it is of no use to you any longer and is in good shape, give it away. In someone else’s hands, it can take on a new life.

Now, back to Kerry’s question and request. What steps do you take to clean up your home office as part of spring cleaning? Share your tips and tricks in the Leave a Reply section below.

The eLearning Companion to Career Success

With a pandemic looming and lingering, a long period of sheltering in place presented an opportunity to move back-burner projects to the forefront. With a pause in client work, both this business owner and employees could focus on some fun stuff. Long-time employee Julia expressed an interest in learning Articulate Storyline 360 to create eLearning content. The question was, “What existing content could we use?”

For 35 years, Shenouda Associates Inc. has created technical and business publications for clients, from guides that show users how a product works to manuals that service engineers use when installing equipment, replacing parts, doing adjustments, and more. Over the past 10 years, I have authored and published my own books, both in print and eBook formats. With the help of my extraordinary employees, these books have been inside jobs, from writing and editing, to designing and publishing, to distributing through online stores. One book, Career Success in 12 Easy Steps: A Journal, proved to be the right candidate to use for eLearning content. Thus, the process began.

Julia explored the capabilities of Articulate Storyline 360. Early on, she wrote, “My first goal was just to see how well the tool could handle users answering the types of questions in the Career Success book.” She found that the tool could handle the book’s essay, multiple-choice, and fill-in-the-blank questions.

Career Success in 12 Easy Steps: A Journal includes a Self-Assessment in which readers begin to explore their strengths, their likes, and their current work situation. The book also includes My Evolving Story, a series of 12 stories (each aligned with one of the 12 steps to career success) in which readers fill in the blanks to write their own story for moving forward at work or in other life endeavors. The Self-Assessment and My Evolving Story are the backbone of the eLearning companion.

Julia continued to learn the tool and communicate her progress. Throughout the development process, I set the direction, reviewed drafts, and offered feedback.

With the eLearning ready to share, the focus now is finding organizations and groups that can benefit from using it as a standalone tool, a companion to the book, or in preparation for an instructor-led workshop.

I applaud Julia’s desire to learn Articulate Storyline 360 and consider the resulting eLearning product impressive and useful.

If you would like to try the eLearning companion and feed back how it worked for you, please provide contact information below.

Give. Share. Be generous.

With Mother’s Day approaching, I can hear my dear mother and her always wise advice to give, share, and be generous. To honor her memory, I have two gifts for you.

Living Well in Froggy’s World of Plenty: Sweet Talk to Read Aloud is a light, whimsical book of flash, slices-of-life stories intended to entertain and inspire. When read aloud, the critters’ sweet talk can enchant even the youngest of listeners.

In A Bisl of This, A Bisl of That: Eating Our Way, you’ll discover ways to take a little of this and that, make a mishmash, cook, bake, eat, kibbitz, and enjoy. Along with the recipes, you’ll find recollections of cooks and kitchens that continue to sustain.

Download Living Well in Froggy’s World of Plenty: Sweet Talk to Read Aloud here.

Download A Bisl of This, A Bisl of That: Eating Our Way here.

The freebies are available on May 7, 8, and 9. I hope you enjoy them.

Happy Mother’s Day to all.

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We spiffed up our website with words wrapped in graphics

Challenge

At Shenouda Associates Inc., we even edit ourselves… continually! To keep pace with evolving technology and taste, our website needed some updates: optimization for the small screens of mobile devices as well as the large screens of computers, with less need to zoom in on or scroll through dense text, and with more visual appeal.

Solution

Several associates had used the application Flare by MadCap Software and considered it an easy choice—the right choice. Its well-designed interface eliminated or minimized the need to know any of the standard languages used in website development. It included several easily modifiable templates and all the tools needed to create a modern, easy-to-use, visually pleasing website, including:

Responsive layouts that can be viewed and navigated with ease on any device

Expandable text that gives the reader the choice of what to read and when

Graphic components—on the Home page and on the Our Work page

On the Home page, we freshened the look by replacing text boxes with panels that introduce, both in words and graphics, the content on the website.

On the Our Work page, we added Read More

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Words of Gratitude from Froggy and His Critter Friends

What fun I had doing this recording of sweet-talking stories from my book, Living Well in Froggy’s World of Plenty: Sweet Talk to Read Aloud for the Writers & Books Literary Partners Reading Series.

You’ll find that Froggy and his critter friends mix and mingle, and work and play. They live with energy, with purpose, and with gratitude. They might just give you a few good ideas for living well in your world of plenty.

For more stories and more ideas for living well, visit Living Well in Froggy’s World of Plenty: Sweet Talk to Read Aloud, available as an ebook or paperback.

 

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The critters know that in any season, in any weather, during hours of light and dark, the time, the moment, and the space are ripe for relaxation, rest, and renewal.

“Renewal, Living Well in Froggy’s World of Plenty: Sweet Talk to Read Aloud

Before 2019 ends, enjoy this gift of the ebook Kindle edition of Living Well in Froggy’s World of Plenty. May the sweet talk of Froggy and his critter friends offer renewal, sustenance, light, laughter, and all that’s good to you and yours.

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A big thank-you to the very talented gardeners at my business, Shenouda Associates Inc., where we write all kinds of business and technical publications, including infographics like this.

Writing is like growing a garden. As we nurture the seedlings of ideas, the results we deliver are the product of a careful, methodical writing process that starts with understanding our readers’ needs and planning how to meet them.

At the start, we take a close look at the environment. We analyze the existing materials and start to picture the finished product. As the scope of work comes into focus, we map out how to move from the existing materials to the finished product. We consider how best to organize and format the deliverables. We assemble tools and break ground by creating a framework with outlines and templates. We sink our hands into the dirt, gather input from subject matter experts, and do our homework to understand the subject matter.

We place content into the right location and shape it into paragraphs, lists, tables, and other text elements. By leaving out whatever is not needed, we streamline ideas, showcasing the most important content and nurturing it to maturity.

We make sure that our creation matches our plans and feels like a balanced, unified whole. We check that the work is accurate and complete, minimizing distraction from jarring details.

As we walk through our garden, we confirm that it is easy to navigate. At harvest time, we publish our work, providing readers a bounty of new food for thought. Mature, published documents continue to grow and change with the seasons. We review and revise. We weed out what is no longer needed. We provide ongoing maintenance.

With the proper care, we allow our garden to grow.

Of course, we can do the same to support your writing needs.

For more information, visit Shenouda Associates Inc.

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Achilles’ heel: A weak or vulnerable factor. From the legend of Greek hero Achilles, who had one vulnerable part of his body, his heel. As an infant, his mother had held him by one heel to dip him in the River Styx to make him invulnerable.

Wordsmith: A word expert who uses language very well

Wordsmith with an Achilles’ heel: Someone who has to check yet again if well or good is the correct word to use in the previous definition

Take a look at what Shenouda employee Donna Muldoon learned from a recent informal and unscientific study of colleagues and their Achilles’ heels.

The rules, they are a changing

In the survey, colleagues noted that once-standard rules have changed, making it necessary to research and confirm they are using the most recent format. For example, some businesses are still unaware that double spaces after a period or full stop are no longer the standard. A change that is more jarring for those who focus on grammar is the more recent revision to the singular subject and plural verb agreement format. It is now common to see variations of “Each owner should have their own copy of the lease.” Through use, and supported by guides such as the APA Style Blog, the new format is becoming acceptable.

A little bit of this, a little bit of that

Even wordsmiths who adeptly manage sentence structure sometimes hesitate when it comes to basic English grammar issues. Writers in the survey gave examples that cause them to rethink what they wrote. Is it that or which? Alternative or alternate? Since or because? On site or on-site or onsite? More than one writer found it necessary to look up when compound adjectives or prefixes take a hyphen. Some writers keep their own customized reference sheet to solve nagging, recurring wordsmithing questions.

While good spelling is common among writers and editors, specific words were an Achilles’ heel nevertheless. Condolences tripped up one writer, license another. An editor who often reviewed documents in both American and British English, would begin to lose focus on which version of fulfill/fulfil, practice/practise, aging/ageing, or program/programme to use. There was also a tendency among writers to watch for repetitive use of certain words, such as so or but. A technical writer who wrote with a controlled language that specified words could only be used in their approved category of noun, verb, or adjective found difficulty writing more creative, less restrictive marketing content. Read More

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Over many years, all of us at Shenouda Associates Inc. have researched, written, edited, and published hundreds (maybe even more) of works both large and small. For us, attention to detail is more than chic or fashionable. It is de rigueur—necessary, required, and proper. Shenouda team member, Donna Muldoon, knows a thing or two about guides to stylish writing. Here is her take on the subject.

Of all the tools that a writer employs, a style guide may be the most used, most reliable, and most important in the day-to-day work of that writer. A style guide that is well organized, complete, and easy to use can save a writer the time and frustration of continually looking up information.

Just as an encyclopedia is a reference source that provides information that can be found in several other sources, a style guide can also act as a compendium of much of the information needed by a writer. A style guide is part Bible, part cookbook, part dictionary, part game rule book, and part fashion magazine. Like the Bible, a style guide proclaims what you shall and shall not do. As a cookbook, it outlines the recipes for font, color, dimensions, and icon usage. It serves as a shortcut dictionary for both common and product-specific words. Like a game rule book, a style guide can make referee-type decisions by reinforcing legal and corporate standards in matters of dispute. And the fashion magazine aspect is characterized through guidelines on tone, voice, and the presentation of content.

The main purpose of a style guide is to provide uniform, consistent standards throughout a group—whether it is a company, a field, a community, or a publication. The standards can form a unified voice and appearance that create a single brand image for all content creation including web pages, video, and marketing collateral. But most importantly, it ensures that multiple writers, contributors, and editors write with a common consistency.

So many options

There are several well-known commercial style guides such as the Associated Press (AP) Stylebook, The Chicago Manual of Style, and the newly updated Microsoft Writing Style Guide. These are acknowledged sources of editorial guidance used and approved by various writing communities. The Plain Writing Act of 2010 requires federal agencies to use clear governmental communication that the public can understand and use. The U.S. government website (www.plainlanguage.gov) includes excellent general writing advice, including addressing your audience, using concise language, attending to visual design, and testing your content.

Read More