Get out the red pencil

Recent travels took my wife Sandy and I to North Carolina, Florida, Virginia and points between. Our trip was a driving trip and consequently the highpoint of many hours of sometimes seemingly unending driving were the “welcome centers” as we arrive in each state.

Florida is our favorite welcome center. Each time we arrive, they welcome us with our choice of fresh orange or grapefruit drink. (This is always the busiest of the welcome centers we stop at.)

I suppose I had too much time on my hands this trip, but I noticed a sign in one of the rest rooms at the welcome centers and in restaurants that intrigued me.

I’m sometimes over the top about expressing things as clearly and succinctly as possible, so my eye is drawn to things that don’t seem right to me. For example, this ever-popular sign that I saw along the way –– I think this was Maryland or Virginia, but I can’t be sure.

Maryland or Virginia

It was absolutely to the point. I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Here’s another one… from Florida. It’s pretty clear. But it doesn’t come directly answer the question “where are they leaving from.” My initial question was, “leaving the planet?”

Florida

But the one I found to be the most distressing is this next one… from North Carolina. We could, of course, do without the commas in the middle of the sentence… and we could do without the capitalized first letters of each word.

North Carolina

There was and is such as easier way to say the same thing.

In my Private Marketing Writing Coaching Program, I recommend that people write the way they talk… and that the best test for any marketing writing is to read it aloud. That’s the ultimate test for whether it sounds right.

I really try not to be so critical of how people express themselves when they write. But when I see something like this (and know that there was such a clearer and more direct way to say the same thing) it’s like fingernails on the old chalkboard.

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