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Lighter, Brighter, Tighter Descriptions Barbara McLachlan Nov 4, 2009 For Fall 2009 Web Conference Series.

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Presentation on theme: "Lighter, Brighter, Tighter Descriptions Barbara McLachlan Nov 4, 2009 For Fall 2009 Web Conference Series."— Presentation transcript:

1 Lighter, Brighter, Tighter Descriptions Barbara McLachlan Nov 4, 2009 For Fall 2009 Web Conference Series

2 Executive Summary

3  Style Guide standard for Description field  Elements of Description  Dos and don’ts  Strategies and planning  Questions and answers What We’ll Cover Today

4  Traditionally – sentences, lots of punctuation, variable length and detail  Changing times – point form; browsers not readers; wider audience  Probably the most challenging aspect of data management  Only small portion of provincial collection currently reflects this standard Our Descriptions

5 The Good, The Bad & The Ugly The Good…. Private adoption service * handles both matched and unmatched adoptions * offers counselling for birth parents * information on adoption placement * conducts home study assessments for domestic and international adoptions The Bad…. There's no reason to live with pain. You can do something about it. We have more than a dozen advanced services and therapies to restore and maintain your optimum health. Whatever your symptoms, you are guaranteed an honest assessment of your needs. & The Ugly…. Stella Dean Crisp brings to her work in the field of Grief and Bereavement, knowledge that has been learned through personal life experiences, extensive and varied volunteer involvement and ongoing academic training. Offers Grief Support - one on one or in groups, workshops & training of volunteers, presentations on grief & bereavement and coping skills. Pet loss support. Guest speakers available on all aspects of grief and bereavement.

6 Structure

7  Be obvious about purpose or function › Not all services use the same name  Don’t assume readers will already know about the service › Audience includes:  newcomers of all kinds  different users  literacy levels  knowledge of social services  Precise and short (avg 6 words); lots of examples in Style Guide  capitalize the general statement only Structure -- General Statement

8  Examples of vague vs precise A small, family-run day program for children sanctioned by.... › becomes….licenced day care Clients, released from federal and provincial correctional institutions, are supervised by.... › becomes….Probation and parole services If a child is in danger, contact us to investigate for abuse and neglect... › becomes….Child protective services Structure -- General Statement

9  Heart of the service  Clear, plain language (no jargon)  Relevant Information  avoid using all CAPITALS; try bolding  capitalize appropriate words (program name but NOT generic name) -- Breaking Loose (name of program) vs foot care clinic (generic service) Structure -- Service Details

10  Optional details in most cases  Capacity info for shelters, hostels, meal programs, child care centres, residential/group homes, and long term care facilities – eg 16 beds  use ‘licensed’ all child care centres  Indicate accreditation, and the specific accrediting body, for home support services and retirement homes Structure -- Capacity/ Licensing

11  In order of importance (primary before minor services – eg. counselling before resource library)  split up large, multi-service listings when a strong division is needed between programs (if all info kept within 1 record; otherwise, make new ones)  Identify any relationships, memberships, etc as required (service of larger group when connection is not obvious; member of Chamber of Commerce)  Supplementary details Structure -- In Order of Priority

12 You’ll be surprised to discover all the things a service DOESN’T do as you make your descriptions “lighter, tighter and brighter” Before: Our wonderful agency offers literacy training, child care, food bank and much more After: Literacy classes for immigrant women * child-minding for registered clients * provides vouchers for food bank And won’t that make indexing / taxonomy work easier!!! The Real Story

13  Use of * between phrases (preferred for online; can be changed in wordprocessing)  Minimize use of commas  No periods, question marks or exclamation points  Follow HTML rules Other Pieces – Punctuation

14  Consider other related fields, such as: › Eligibility › Application › Fees  Repeat portions as needed for clarity but ensure all details are in the appropriate field  Are your details consistent between and among fields? No Description is an Island

15  Source of Information › Organization representative › Their brochures or flyers › Their website  It’s tempting to just block and copy but…. › Our info is 3 rd party neutral › Just the facts ….leave the PR to others › You’re the editor, so edit for content Is it Real or Copied?

16 Description Etiquette Replace this….With this…… please call ahead call ahead I, We, Ours, My We welcome walk-in patients to use this service as well as our current patients if they are unable to schedule an appointment to meet their schedule. third party neutral statements service for registered and non- registered patients of the practice

17 Description Etiquette (cont’d) Mission statements… We are committed to promoting the growth of midwifery in Ontario by providing learning opportunities for students of the Midwifery Education Program. An opening, summary statement Midwifery education and support services PR statements - Real help, right now! - This award-winning service - we have bright, cheery rooms and friendly staff/highly qualified staff - delete it! Right now! - licenced; accredited - 2-bed suites, shared rooms * licenced staff

18 Strategies towards Standard  In-house › Develop a plan › Give yourself lots of time › If service details are unclear, ASK! › Do in sections  All health organizations  All child care services DON’T do in A-Z order; you need that consistency between records

19 Strategies towards Standard  For Service Providers › Give explanation for change (ie switching to new standard)  In  Cover letter  update form › Benefits - easier to comprehend; easier to update; more compact (less work) › Provide the new Descriptions; don’t expect the agency to do that work

20 Strategies towards Standard  For Service Providers (continued) › Expect resistence › Expect extra work › Embrace opportunity to:  Educate providers on data needs  Educate providers about online updating  Educate providers on YOUR service

21 Strategies towards Standard  Net results › easier, streamlined updating next time around › Improved data › Smaller, more consistent publications / online data › Improved customer satisfaction › Savings for hardcopy materials ($, paper)

22 Questions and Answers


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