Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Snip Snip Tool for Writers

Throughout my day as a writer and editor, I use a number of Internet tools. They make my work easier as a writer. I’m continually adding to my list of tools (another key bit of advise).  Today I’m going to highlight one particular tool called Snipurl. There are several of these types of tools online. Another one is tinyurl.com, which works well but does not allow you to save, individualize or recall your shortened URLs—where Snipurl includes this flexibility.

OK, first let’s pinpoint the problem so you can understand the importance of using it. You spot a terrific article on the Christian Post that you want to send to a friend or point out in an online forum. This article is about the Christian Retail Show recently in Denver. Typically, you cut and paste this URL into your email: http://www.christianpost.com/article/ministries/1311/section/thousands.trek.to.colorado.for.intl.christian.retail.show/1.htm

While it worked for your browser, what happened when you sent it? Often, it is split and ends up in at least two parts. Here’s where you use Snipurl. Before you use it, go over to the section labeled, Mysnipurl and register. Registration is simple. You pick a username, password, confirm your password and include your email address. Why register? So you can take full advantage of the features plus be able to individualize your various URLs store them and search for them.

Because you have logged on to the Mysnipurl portion of the site, now cut and paste your URL into the program. You will see your long URL posted into the right place—but also notice the “optional” Nickname. Because you have registered, you can select a memorable nickname with between 5 and 20 characters. I selected “ttrek” for the first few words of the headline, “Thousands Trek.”

Suddenly my 124 character URL has been shortened to 23 letters or 19% of the original. It has become: http://snipurl.com/ttrek or http://snipurl.com/gifm. Great—but you aren’t finished yet. Take one more step.

In the last few months, I have snipped over 300 various long URLs into Mysnip URL section. It is impossible to remember all of my various nicknames. Immediately I return to Mysnipurl. My latest snip is at the top of the screen. Select the button on the right that says, “Edit URL.” You will have the opportunity to add a “Title.” In this field, you can add some additional information that will help you recall the reason for the URL and a better reference for it. Finally you hit the button that says “Update Snipped URL.”

Why add the title? Because Mysnipurl has a search feature at the bottom of the screen. Months after snipping a particular URL, you can return to that search feature and type in a few words, then easily find your snipped URL. The search feature will look for your title words. For example, I have the guidelines for my publisher on one of these shortened urls at: http://snipurl.com/guide or I have the page with various ways to purchase Book Proposals That Sell at: http://snipurl.com/waysto And if I forget what I called it (as I just did), then I search under the word “ways” and immediately I found it.

Often these free Internet tools don’t come with a lot of instructions. You have to experiment a bit to learn to use the tool. But from my perspective as a writer and editor, it saves a great deal of time in the long run.

I learned about this tool—and others from Sreenath Sreennivasan who held an excellent workshop at the American Society of Journalists and Author meetings. You can discover additional tools from his links page. I’d encourage you to try a new tool from time to time. You will be amazed at how it will help your writing life.

1 Comment:

At 11:00 AM, Blogger Unknown Left a note...

Thanks, Terri. I will definitely use this tool from now on.


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