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Business Writing: <body class="layout-three-column"> <div id="container"> <div id="container-inner" class="pkg"> <!-- banner - rev2 --> <div id="banner"> <div id="banner-inner" class="pkg"> <h1 id="banner-header"><a href="http://www.syntaxtraining.com" accesskey="1">Business Writing</a></h1> <h2 id="banner-description"></h2> </div> </div> <div id="pagebody"> <div id="pagebody-inner" class="pkg"> <div id="alpha"> <div id="alpha-inner" class="pkg"> <!-- sidebar1 --> <!-- user photo --> <table border="0" align="center" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" id="about"> <tr> <td valign="top" class="photo"><a href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/about.html"><img src="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/.a/6a00d8341c02a553ef01a3fa91debe970b-pi" alt="Lynn Gaertner-Johnston" border="0" title="Lynn Gaertner-Johnston"/></a></td> <td width="80" valign="top"><ul class="aboutus"> <li><a href="http://syntaxtraining.com/">Visit Lynn's Website</a></li> <li><a href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/about.html">About Lynn</a></li> <li><a href="http://syntaxtraining.com/contact_us.html">Contact Lynn</a></li> </ul> <strong>Subscribe</strong> <ul class="subscriber"> <li class="email"><a href="http://www.feedburner.com/fb/a/emailverifySubmit?feedId=2863746&loc=en_US" title="Receive a link to the latest post in your inbox.">Email</a></li> <li class="rss"><a href="http://feeds.feedburner.com/businesswritingblog/BwB09" title="Receive the latest post to your favorite newsreader or Outlook.">RSS</a></li> </ul> </td> </tr> </table> <!-- about page link --> <div id="syntax_training" class="module-typelist module"> <h2 class="module-header">Syntax Training</h2> <div class="module-content"> <ul class="module-list"> <li class="module-list-item"><a title="Read about upcoming public classes, both online and in person. "href="http://syntaxtraining.com/upcomingclasses.html">Business Writing Classes Coming Up </a></li> <li class="module-list-item"><a title="Get tips and monthly e-newsletter. "href="http://www.syntaxtraining.com/signup.html">Email Tips: 25 Tips for Email Etiquette</a></li> <li class="module-list-item"><a title="The main article of the current issue is titled "Take Control of Your Jargon.""href="http://www.syntaxtraining.com/signup.html">Free Monthly Ezine on Business Writing</a></li> <li class="module-list-item"><a title="Visit Lynn's website for more articles on business writing."href="http://syntaxtraining.com/articles.html">Lynn's Articles on Writing </a></li> <li class="module-list-item"><a title=""href="http://syntaxtraining.com/heart.html">"Business Writing With Heart": Lynn's New Book</a></li> <li class="module-list-item"><a title="Lynn talks about "Business Writing With Heart""href="http://youtu.be/VXsKN3YeKdY">YouTube Book Interview</a></li> <li class="module-list-item"><a title=""href="http://www.syntaxtraining.com">Visit Lynn's Website</a></li> </ul> </div> </div> <div id="writing_resources" class="module-typelist module"> <h2 class="module-header">Writing Resources</h2> <div class="module-content"> <ul class="module-list"> <li class="module-list-item"><a title="Fine blog on writing, marketing, and business"href="http://badlanguage.net">Bad Language</a></li> <li class="module-list-item"><a title="Lynn's picks for best books"href="http://www.syntaxtraining.com/recommended_books.html">Business Writing Books</a></li> <li class="module-list-item"><a title="Tips from Syntax Training"href="http://www.syntaxtraining.com/business_writing_tips.html">Business Writing Tips</a></li> <li class="module-list-item"><a title="Q&A on questions of style and consistency"href="http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/CMS_FAQ/new/new_questions01.html">Chicago Manual of Style</a></li> <li class="module-list-item"><a title="Useful statistics on Internet use and traffic"href="http://www.clickz.com/stats">ClickZ Stats Toolbox</a></li> <li class="module-list-item"><a title="Hundreds of errors listed alphabetically"href="http://www.wsu.edu/~brians/errors/index.html">Common Errors in English</a></li> <li class="module-list-item"><a title="Review 440 lessons in grammar and punctuation in the archives"href="http://www.dailygrammar.com">Daily Grammar</a></li> <li class="module-list-item"><a title="Photos to inspire and stretch"href="http://dailywalks.com/">Daily Walks | Diane Varner</a></li> <li class="module-list-item"><a title="Thought-provoking pieces on marketing "href="http://www.ducttapemarketing.com/weblog.php">Duct Tape Marketing Blog</a></li> <li class="module-list-item"><a title="With 150 excellent interactive quizzes"href="http://grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/grammar/">Guide to Grammar and Writing</a></li> <li class="module-list-item"><a title="Over 1000 interactive quizzes at varying levels of difficulty"href="http://a4esl.org">Interactive ESL Quizzes</a></li> <li class="module-list-item"><a title="Games and exercises for everyone, including native English speakers"href="http://www.manythings.org">Interesting Things for ESL/EFL Students</a></li> <li class="module-list-item"><a title="Resources for lawyers who write"href="http://raymondpward.typepad.com/newlegalwriter/">Legal Writer</a></li> <li class="module-list-item"><a title="In celebration of punctuation"href="http://www.nationalpunctuationday.com">National Punctuation Day</a></li> <li class="module-list-item"><a title="Get results from as many as 18 dictionaries"href="http://www.onelook.com">OneLook Dictionary Search</a></li> <li class="module-list-item"><a title="Join the fight for clear writing"href="http://www.plainenglish.co.uk">Plain English Campaign</a></li> <li class="module-list-item"><a title="Proofreading symbols listed and illustrated"href="http://www.journalismcareers.com/articles/proofreadingsymbols.shtml">Proofreading Symbols</a></li> <li class="module-list-item"><a title="Explore the site for MLA & APA Style guidance, rules, exercises, and presentations "href="http://owl.english.purdue.edu/">Purdue's Writing Lab</a></li> <li class="module-list-item"><a title="Test your spelling at five levels of difficulty"href="http://eslus.com/LESSONS/SPELL/SPELL.HTM">Spelling Tests</a></li> <li class="module-list-item"><a title="Words spelled differently in British, Canadian, and American English"href="http://www3.telus.net/linguisticsissues/BritishCanadianAmerican.htm">Spelling: British, Canadian, American</a></li> <li class="module-list-item"><a title="Syntax Training (Lynn's company) website"href="http://www.syntaxtraining.com">Syntax Training</a></li> <li class="module-list-item"><a title="A test on which Lynn got 3 wrong! "href="http://books.guardian.co.uk/quiz/questions/0,5957,1303707,00.html">Tough Spelling Test</a></li> <li class="module-list-item"><a title="Take a free typing test. Available in English, Spanish, German, French, Italian, Portuguese, Dutch, Swedish, and Finnish. "href="http://www.typingtest.com">TypingTest.com </a></li> <li class="module-list-item"><a title="Words with different meanings in British, Canadian, and American English"href="http://www3.telus.net/linguisticsissues/britishcanadianamericanvocab.html">Vocabulary: British, Canadian, American</a></li> <li class="module-list-item"><a title="A list that allows you to search by misspellings--not correct spellings"href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:List_of_common_misspellings">Wikipedia: List of Common Misspellings </a></li> <li class="module-list-item"><a title="New words defined, a great resource"href="http://www.wordspy.com">Word Spy</a></li> <li class="module-list-item"><a title="A search engine to hundreds of online dictionaries, and much more"href="http://www.yourdictionary.com">YourDictionary.com</a></li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div id="beta"> <div id="beta-inner" class="pkg"> <div id="sharethis" style="text-align:right;"> <span class='st_twitter' displayText='Tweet'></span> <span class='st_facebook' displayText='Facebook'></span> <span class='st_linkedin' displayText='LinkedIn'></span> <span class='st_pinterest' displayText='Pinterest'></span> <span class='st_sharethis' displayText='ShareThis'></span> <span class='st_email' displayText='Email'></span> </div> <script type="text/javascript"> window.ZemantaBlogSettings = ""; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://content.zemanta.com/static/typepad/js/recommend.js"></script> <!-- entries --> <h2 class="date-header">January 28, 2015</h2> <div class="entry-category-email entry-category-proofreading entry-author-lynn_gaertnerjohnston entry-type-post entry" id="entry-6a00d8341c02a553ef01b7c740e776970b"> <div class="entry-inner"> <h3 class="entry-header"><a href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2015/01/whats-missing-from-this-reminder.html">What's Missing From This Reminder?</a></h3> <div class="entry-content"> <input type="hidden" name="zemanta-related" val="" /> <div class="entry-body"> <p>My husband, Michael, is planning to participate in an event on Saturday. Below is the entire content of the reminder email he received today. Can you identify what's missing?</p> <p>Subject: Three More Days Until the Run! </p> <p>We hope you are getting excited about participating in Saturday's group run/walk! A few things to remember:</p> <ol> <li>Please plan on arriving early to find parking.</li> <li>Bring a food donation for the University Food Bank (optional).</li> <li>We are meeting at the basketball courts (if you look to the east, you can see Starbucks).</li> <li>If you have any questions, don't hesitate to contact us at (425) 610-XXXX.</li> <li>Please LIKE us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/XXXXXXX</li> <li>GO SEAHAWKS!</li> </ol> <p>If you were sending this reminder to people who had registered for the event, what essential information would you also include? </p> <p>Proofreading is not just identifying errors. Sometimes it involves recognizing what isn't there. If you would like to increase your proofreading skills and confidence, take our Proofreading Like a Pro class online on Wednesday, February 11. <a href="http://syntaxtraining.com/PDF/Proofreading_Like_a_Pro_Feb_11_2015.pdf" target="_self" title="Learn more">Read about the proofreading class</a>. </p> <p><em><span style="color: #0000bf;">Lynn</span></em><br /><a href="http://syntaxtraining.com" target="_self" title="Visit Lynn's company website">Syntax Training</a></p> </div> <!-- SIGNATURE --> </div> <div class="entry-footer"> <p class="entry-footer-info"> <span class="post-footers">January 28, 2015 in <a href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/email/">Email</a>, <a href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/proofreading/">Proofreading</a> </span> <span class="separator">|</span> <a class="permalink" href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2015/01/whats-missing-from-this-reminder.html">Permalink</a> <span class="separator">|</span> <a class="entry-comments" href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2015/01/whats-missing-from-this-reminder.html#comments">Comments (9)</a> <span class="separator">|</span> <a class="entry-trackbacks" href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2015/01/whats-missing-from-this-reminder.html#trackback">TrackBack (0)</a> </p> <!-- technorati tags --> <!-- post footer links --> </div> </div> </div> <h2 class="date-header">January 26, 2015</h2> <div class="entry-author-lynn_gaertnerjohnston entry-type-post entry" id="entry-6a00d8341c02a553ef01b7c73d9c1b970b"> <div class="entry-inner"> <h3 class="entry-header"><a href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2015/01/who-are-you-tell-resume-readers-fast.html">Who Are You? Tell Resume Readers Fast</a></h3> <div class="entry-content"> <input type="hidden" name="zemanta-related" val="" /> <div class="entry-body"> <p>The other night I helped a young friend with her resume by phone and email. I have known "Alicia" for many years, so I know her story--her job and education history, her strengths, and her accomplishments. I know the essential Alicia.</p> <p>But her resume readers--potential employers--would know nothing about her at first glance, and Alicia needed to fill that information gap instantly. But instead, her resume draft went from contact information to Work Experience, then Education, all in the typical bullet point format. Readers would not have a clear picture of who Alicia is until the very end of the resume--if they got there. </p> <p>The resume was missing an opening summary. And Alicia was missing an opportunity to shape her readers' first impression of her. </p> <p>Variously labeled Summary, Summary of Qualifications, Professional Summary, Skills Summary, and Professional Profile, it's a section that appears after the name and contact information. It helps readers see the whole picture in a quick snapshot. And it helps them avoid having to create a picture on their own, pulling together all the resume pieces. </p> <p>Notice in these examples how the writer presents a clear picture of his or her qualifications: </p> <p>**********************************</p> <p><strong>Summary of qualifications<br /></strong></p> <ul> <li>Significant experience in a print production environment. </li> <li>Strong mechanical aptitude and trouble-shooting skills.</li> <li>Excellent attendance, with years of perfect attendance on the job.</li> <li>Reliability, focus, inventiveness, and good common sense.</li> </ul> <p>**********************************</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong><strong>SUMMARY</strong></strong></p> <p style="text-align: left;">Award-winning communications manager with proven ability in project management, strategic planning, business writing, and mass communication. Strong background in communicating corporate messages through wide-ranging media, including social media, publications, films, exhibits, conferences, and special events. Expert in Word, Excel, and InDesign. Fluent in Spanish.</p> <p>**********************************</p> <p><strong>Professional Profile</strong><br />An accomplished manager and individual contributor with solid experience in corporate and educational settings, providing management and information technology solutions.</p> <ul> <li><strong>Systems and software experience:</strong> Solomon, Ceridian, and CAMS; Paradox, object PAL, Crystal Reports, SQL, HTML, ASP, and MS Office.</li> <li><strong>Traits:</strong> Resourcefulness, adaptability, optimism, empathy, and calm under pressure. </li> <li><strong>Satisfiers:</strong> Facilitating the work of others, simplifying processes, solving problems, establishing good relationships, and providing high-quality reports and information.</li> </ul> <p>**********************************</p> <p><strong>Summary: Warehouse and Shipping Professional</strong> <br />Over 11 years in warehouse and shipping. Experienced training and supervising seasonal workers. Accustomed to working in fast-paced, high-volume environments focused on first-class customer service. Recognized for reliability, safety, and excellent attendance.</p> <p>**********************************</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Summary Statement</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center; text-align: left;">10+ years of experience supporting the success of individuals, groups, and organizations. Notable achievements as a non-profit director, project manager, and consultant. Excellent presentation, writing, and relationship-building skills developed through working with diverse groups. Methodically organized yet energized by change.</p> <p><strong>**********************************</strong></p> <p>When adding an opening summary to your resume, consider these tips about its content:</p> <ol> <li>Include words and phrases your readers will be looking for: <em>manager, project management, trouble-shooting, training design, non-profit, diversity, MS Office, Arabic.</em></li> <li>Use words that paint a positive picture: <em>award-winning,</em> <em>achievements, success, significant, strong, excellent, expert, proven, </em><em>accomplished.</em></li> <li>Use phrases that summarize: "warehouse and shipping professional," "10 years of experience in," "experience handling large portfolios," "background in operations, sales, and customer service."</li> <li>Choose words that describe you precisely while avoiding clichés. For instance, rather than calling yourself a "results-driven self-starter," use words that uniquely describe you. </li> <li>Consider a maximum length of about 75 words. The examples above range from 33 to 69 words, including their headings. </li> <li>Include areas you want to highlight, and omit others. For example, if your resume includes five years as a kindergarten teacher but you are looking for a job as a technical writer, do not mention kindergarten in the summary. </li> <li>Tell the truth. Do not exaggerate or mislead in the summary or anywhere in your resume. </li> <li>Write your resume first. Then create your qualifications summary. </li> </ol> <p>Yesterday Alicia sent me her revised resume featuring a summary of qualifications. The summary transformed her resume from lists of details to a powerful strategic document. It packaged her six years of experience (some of it in college) as a solid professional background.  </p> <p>Now readers of Alicia's resume can know her as I do in just a glance. That's the power of a professional summary. </p> <p>Do you have comments or questions about qualifications summaries, including the ones above? Please share them. </p> <p><span style="color: #0000bf;"><em>Lynn</em></span><br /><a href="http://syntaxtraining.com%20" target="_self" title="Visit Lynn's company website">Syntax Training</a></p> </div> <!-- SIGNATURE --> </div> <div class="entry-footer"> <p class="entry-footer-info"> <span class="post-footers">January 26, 2015 </span> <span class="separator">|</span> <a class="permalink" href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2015/01/who-are-you-tell-resume-readers-fast.html">Permalink</a> <span class="separator">|</span> <a class="entry-comments" href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2015/01/who-are-you-tell-resume-readers-fast.html#comments">Comments (2)</a> <span class="separator">|</span> <a class="entry-trackbacks" href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2015/01/who-are-you-tell-resume-readers-fast.html#trackback">TrackBack (0)</a> </p> <!-- technorati tags --> <!-- post footer links --> </div> </div> </div> <h2 class="date-header">January 20, 2015</h2> <div class="entry-category-proofreading entry-category-punctuation_pointers entry-author-lynn_gaertnerjohnston entry-type-post entry" id="entry-6a00d8341c02a553ef01b7c73b3033970b"> <div class="entry-inner"> <h3 class="entry-header"><a href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2015/01/need-a-punctuation-class-try-this-test.html">Need a Punctuation Class? Try This Test.</a></h3> <div class="entry-content"> <input type="hidden" name="zemanta-related" val="" /> <div class="entry-body"> <p>In response to client requests, I have designed a new online class, <a href="http://syntaxtraining.com/PDF/Punctuation_for_Pros_class_March_19_and_26_2015.pdf" target="_self" title="Flyer for the class">Punctuation for Professionals</a>. It's a lively, interactive review of the essential rules of punctuation.  </p> <p>Would you benefit from a punctuation class? See whether you can identify punctuation errors in 8 of the 16 sentences below. </p> <ol> <li>We submitted the proposal last week, however, we have not received approval yet.<br /><br /></li> <li>The plan includes: goals, timelines, and a budget.<br /><br /></li> <li>Several one-hour webinars are available as complimentary downloads.<br /><br /></li> <li>Lori needs a weeks notice to arrange catering for meetings.<br /><br /></li> <li>Appendix 7 includes details on all four transportation companies (see page 294).<br /><br /></li> <li>Hiroko is taking an early shuttle to Los Angeles and Han is planning to drive his car.<br /><br /></li> <li>Thank you, Clare, for filling in at the reception desk last week.<br /><br /></li> <li>Bill and Hillary Clintons’ home is in New York.  <br /><br /></li> <li>Teo moved from Vancouver, British Colum­bia, to Seattle before settling in Calgary.<br /><br /></li> <li>Two employees’ cars were under the awning when it collapsed.<br /><br /></li> <li>When customers click this button a dropdown box with three choices appears.<br /><br /></li> <li>Here are the winners: Michael Grace, Accounting; Davida Banks, Finance; and Elray Davis, Member Services.<br /><br /></li> <li>December 15, 2014, is the last day we accepted the vouchers.<br /><br /></li> <li>Carl will manage the volunteers on Friday; Renee will manage them on Saturday.<br /><br /></li> <li>Hala has asked that everyone review the long range plan before the meeting.<br /><br /></li> <li>The course he wants to take is “Leadership in the Nonprofit Sector.” </li> </ol> <p>This <a href="http://syntaxtraining.com/PDF/punctuationtest.pdf" target="_self" title="Answer key for the punctuation test">answer key</a> indicates the errors but not the corrections. To learn more, take Punctuation for Professionals!</p> <p><span style="color: #0000bf;"><em>Lynn</em></span><br /><a href="http://syntaxtraining.com" target="_self" title="Visit Lynn's company website">Syntax Training</a></p> </div> <!-- SIGNATURE --> </div> <div class="entry-footer"> <p class="entry-footer-info"> <span class="post-footers">January 20, 2015 in <a href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/proofreading/">Proofreading</a>, <a href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/punctuation_pointers/">Punctuation Pointers</a> </span> <span class="separator">|</span> <a class="permalink" href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2015/01/need-a-punctuation-class-try-this-test.html">Permalink</a> <span class="separator">|</span> <a class="entry-comments" href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2015/01/need-a-punctuation-class-try-this-test.html#comments">Comments (0)</a> <span class="separator">|</span> <a class="entry-trackbacks" href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2015/01/need-a-punctuation-class-try-this-test.html#trackback">TrackBack (0)</a> </p> <!-- technorati tags --> <!-- post footer links --> </div> </div> </div> <h2 class="date-header">January 19, 2015</h2> <div class="entry-category-email entry-category-teaching_business_writing entry-category-writing_tips entry-author-lynn_gaertnerjohnston entry-type-post entry" id="entry-6a00d8341c02a553ef01b8d0c2c250970c"> <div class="entry-inner"> <h3 class="entry-header"><a href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2015/01/how-email-readers-differ-from-dogs.html">How Dog Training Differs From Emailing</a></h3> <div class="entry-content"> <input type="hidden" name="zemanta-related" val="" /> <div class="entry-body"> <p>Outside the supermarket the other day, I walked past a man who was trying to get his dog to sit. He said, "Sit. Sit. Sit. Sit, Rudy. Sit." Each word was followed by a short pause during which the man's dog, an American Staffordshire Terrier, did not sit.</p> <p>I have learned not to butt in when my help has not been requested. But I wanted to tell the man that he was teaching his dog the command "Sit. Sit. Sit. Sit, Rudy. Sit." Dog owners should say a command just once, "Rudy, sit." If the dog does not sit, then the owner should put the dog in a sit position. That way, the dog learns the command "Sit" rather than "Sit. Sit. Sit. Sit. Sit."  <a class="asset-img-link" href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/.a/6a00d8341c02a553ef01b7c739b715970b-pi" style="display: inline;"><img alt="American Stafforshire Terrier" border="0" class="asset asset-image at-xid-6a00d8341c02a553ef01b7c739b715970b img-responsive" src="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/.a/6a00d8341c02a553ef01b7c739b715970b-800wi" title="American Stafforshire Terrier" /></a></p> <p>Email readers are different from dogs. Readers of email need to receive the command--the request for action--repeatedly in order to pay attention to it and respond the right way. </p> <p>Take this example:</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">Subject: Agenda Items for Jan. 27 Planning Meeting: Please Submit by Jan. 21 [Sit.]</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">Hello everyone,</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">By Wednesday, Jan. 21, please send me your agenda items for the Jan. 27 planning meeting. [Sit.]</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">If I receive your items by Jan. 21 [Sit], I will include them in the final agenda I send out on Jan. 22. </p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">I look forward to receiving your agenda items. [Sit.]</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">Gail </p> <p>Sit. Sit. Sit. Sit. If the email writer had said "Sit" only once--let's say in the first sentence--the reader would likely overlook the request while speeding through an email inbox. The specific request for action needs to appear in the subject AND in the first sentence AND typically in one other place in the message. </p> <p>Do you agree about this difference between dog training and email communicating? Feel free to extend the analogy. </p> <p><em><span style="color: #0000bf;">Lynn</span></em> <br /><a href="http://syntaxtraining.com" target="_self" title="Visit Lynn's company website">Syntax Training </a></p> </div> <!-- SIGNATURE --> </div> <div class="entry-footer"> <p class="entry-footer-info"> <span class="post-footers">January 19, 2015 in <a href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/email/">Email</a>, <a href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/teaching_business_writing/">Teaching Business Writing</a>, <a href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/writing_tips/">Writing Tips</a> </span> <span class="separator">|</span> <a class="permalink" href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2015/01/how-email-readers-differ-from-dogs.html">Permalink</a> <span class="separator">|</span> <a class="entry-comments" href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2015/01/how-email-readers-differ-from-dogs.html#comments">Comments (5)</a> <span class="separator">|</span> <a class="entry-trackbacks" href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2015/01/how-email-readers-differ-from-dogs.html#trackback">TrackBack (0)</a> </p> <!-- technorati tags --> <!-- post footer links --> </div> </div> </div> <h2 class="date-header">January 12, 2015</h2> <div class="entry-category-frequently_asked_questions entry-category-grammar_and_usage entry-author-lynn_gaertnerjohnston entry-type-post entry" id="entry-6a00d8341c02a553ef01b8d0be66cd970c"> <div class="entry-inner"> <h3 class="entry-header"><a href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2015/01/comprised-of-vs-composed-of-a-test.html">"Comprised of" vs. "Composed of": A Test</a></h3> <div class="entry-content"> <input type="hidden" name="zemanta-related" val="" /> <div class="entry-body"> <p>At lunch today I read the following sentence in an advertising supplement in <em>The New York Times:</em></p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">Our wine team is comprised of devoted wine lovers who are some of the most respected professionals in the industry. </p> <p>Your test: Is the phrase "comprised of" correct, or should "composed of" replace it? Why? </p> <p>The phrases "composed of" and "comprised of" appear in business documents daily, raising doubts in writers' and readers' minds. Which one is correct? Or are both correct? </p> <p>The word <em>comprise</em> means "contain" or "consist of." With that definition in mind, let's replace <em>comprise </em>in the original sentence:</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">Our wine team is contained of devoted wine lovers.</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">Our wine team is consisted of devoted wine lovers.</p> <p>How do those sound to you?</p> <p>The word <em>compose </em>means "make up" or "form." If we replace <em>comprise </em>in the original sentence with those definitions, we get:</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">Our wine team is made up of devoted wine lovers.</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">Our wine team is formed of devoted wine lovers. </p> <p>Better? </p> <p>Yes, "composed of" is the correct form. The phrase "comprised of" is <em>never</em> correct to usage purists despite its regular appearance in writing. If you want to be correct in the eyes of discriminating readers, use "composed of." </p> <p>If you like the look and sound of <em>comprise, </em>you can still use it correctly. Be guided by its meaning "contain" or "consist of":</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">Our wine team comprises devoted wine lovers. </p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">The trio comprised two violins and a cello. </p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">The panel comprises experts from four industries. </p> <p>Fill in these blanks with correct words or phrases:</p> <ol> <li>The new book ___________ four sections. </li> <li>The team ____________ Joe Black, Andrea Rogers, and Rabin Gupta. </li> <li>The benefits package ____________ salary, health insurance, and three weeks of vacation.</li> </ol> <p>Did you choose a phrase or a single word for your answers?</p> <p>For each item, you may correctly use either "is composed of" or "comprises." </p> <p>Remember, even though you see "comprised of" often (even in <em>The New York Times</em>) careful writers use "composed of" and "comprises." </p> <p>Which phrasing do you prefer? </p> <p>Our <a href="http://syntaxtraining.com/errorquests.html" target="_self" title="Learn more about Error Quests">Error Quests</a> booklet contains 50 short paragraphs, each with just one error. Test yourself! </p> <p><em><span style="color: #0000bf;">Lynn</span></em><br /><a href="http://syntaxtraining.com" target="_self" title="Visit Lynn's company website">Syntax Training</a> </p> </div> <!-- SIGNATURE --> </div> <div class="entry-footer"> <p class="entry-footer-info"> <span class="post-footers">January 12, 2015 in <a href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/frequently_asked_questions/">Frequently Asked Questions</a>, <a href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/grammar_and_usage/">Grammar and Usage</a> </span> <span class="separator">|</span> <a class="permalink" href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2015/01/comprised-of-vs-composed-of-a-test.html">Permalink</a> <span class="separator">|</span> <a class="entry-comments" href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2015/01/comprised-of-vs-composed-of-a-test.html#comments">Comments (5)</a> <span class="separator">|</span> <a class="entry-trackbacks" href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2015/01/comprised-of-vs-composed-of-a-test.html#trackback">TrackBack (0)</a> </p> <!-- technorati tags --> <!-- post footer links --> </div> </div> </div> <h2 class="date-header">January 06, 2015</h2> <div class="entry-category-teaching_business_writing entry-category-writing_tips entry-author-lynn_gaertnerjohnston entry-type-post entry" id="entry-6a00d8341c02a553ef01b7c72fd8ac970b"> <div class="entry-inner"> <h3 class="entry-header"><a href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2015/01/dont-make-us-slog-through-long-sentences.html">Don't Make Us Slog Through Long Sentences</a></h3> <div class="entry-content"> <input type="hidden" name="zemanta-related" val="" /> <div class="entry-body"> <p>People often complain about jargon slowing down and confusing readers. But long sentences create as much drag on readers as unexplained abbreviations.</p> <p>This opening sentence from a recent news article throws too much at readers at once: </p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">The frustration and defiance of the nation’s police officers were on display again Sunday in New York City, where tens of thousands of them gathered for the funeral of the second of two officers who were slain at the height of the ongoing protests and scrutiny after several high-profile deaths of unarmed black males.</p> <p>Count the ideas crammed into that 54-word sentence. How many do you notice? </p> <p>If it were a clear, clean sentence, you would count one or two ideas--not these four:  </p> <ol> <li>The frustration and defiance of the nation’s police officers were on display again Sunday in New York City.</li> <li>New York City is where tens of thousands of them gathered for the funeral of the second of two officers.</li> <li>The officers were slain at the height of the ongoing protests and scrutiny.</li> <li>The protests and scrutiny come after several high-profile deaths of unarmed black males.</li> </ol> <p>I was doing okay with the complicated sentence until "slain at the height of the ongoing protest" tripped me up. If the protests are ongoing, can we determine when the height is? I probably would have made it past that oddity if I were not already holding about 37 words' worth of ideas in my head, waiting for the conclusion. </p> <p>I like Ann Handley's comment on length. In her terrific book <em>Everybody Writes, </em>she states, "The longer the word, sentence, or paragraph, the longer the brain has to postpone comprehending ideas until it can reach a point where all of the words, together, make sense." That 30-word sentence is rich and dense, but it communicates just one idea, beautifully. </p> <p>Take a moment to break that news article sentence into several logically flowing ones, with each sentence communicating just one or two ideas. Try it before reading my revision below. Feel free to change the wording. </p> <p> </p> <p> </p> <p> </p> <p>My revision uses three sentences of 18, 17, and 17 words:</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">The frustration and defiance of the nation’s police officers were on display again Sunday in New York City. Tens of thousands of them gathered there for the funeral of the second of two slain officers. The two were slain as protests and scrutiny continue, following several high-profile deaths of unarmed black males.</p> <p>Each of those short sentences allows readers to understand its meaning quickly. There is no need to suspend comprehension until a long-anticipated end.</p> <p>Don't make us slog through long sentences! </p> <p>Was your revision similar to mine? And do you have any long sentences to share? I would love to read any that are giving you trouble as a writer or reader. </p> <p><em><span style="color: #0000bf;">Lynn</span></em><br /><a href="http://syntaxtraining.com" target="_self" title="Visit Lynn's company website">Syntax Training</a></p> </div> <!-- SIGNATURE --> </div> <div class="entry-footer"> <p class="entry-footer-info"> <span class="post-footers">January 06, 2015 in <a href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/teaching_business_writing/">Teaching Business Writing</a>, <a href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/writing_tips/">Writing Tips</a> </span> <span class="separator">|</span> <a class="permalink" href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2015/01/dont-make-us-slog-through-long-sentences.html">Permalink</a> <span class="separator">|</span> <a class="entry-comments" href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2015/01/dont-make-us-slog-through-long-sentences.html#comments">Comments (6)</a> <span class="separator">|</span> <a class="entry-trackbacks" href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2015/01/dont-make-us-slog-through-long-sentences.html#trackback">TrackBack (0)</a> </p> <!-- technorati tags --> <!-- post footer links --> </div> </div> </div> <h2 class="date-header">December 31, 2014</h2> <div class="entry-category-frequently_asked_questions entry-category-grammar_and_usage entry-category-punctuation_pointers entry-author-lynn_gaertnerjohnston entry-type-post entry" id="entry-6a00d8341c02a553ef01b7c72b54c7970b"> <div class="entry-inner"> <h3 class="entry-header"><a href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2014/12/top-three-writing-errors-of-2014.html">Top Three Writing Errors of 2014</a></h3> <div class="entry-content"> <input type="hidden" name="zemanta-related" val="" /> <div class="entry-body"> <p>In my work as a business writing teacher, I read samples of writing from managers and employees at all levels around the country and the globe. In 2014 I repeatedly saw three errors. Two of them are punctuation mistakes; one falls into the grammar pot.</p> <p>Can you find the top three errors in this fictionalized message? Each of the top errors appears twice, so look for six errors. </p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">*************************</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">Lynn thank you for permitting us to reprint your recent business writing article in our newsletter. The content and your approach is extremely helpful.</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">I always appreciate your practical tips, however, I did not understand one of the points in a recent blog post. Why is "me" correct in the sentence "Please let Reggie and me know when you leave"? I always thought "I" was the proper pronoun, however, you indicated that "me" is correct.</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">Thanks Lynn. Your advice and feedback is much appreciated. </p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">*************************</p> <p>Did you find six errors? </p> <p><strong>Error 1:</strong> The most common error of 2014 appears at the beginning of the first and last paragraphs in the sample above. When the writer used my name in a sentence, directly addressing me, a comma should have set off my name:</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">Lynn<span style="background-color: #ffff00;">,</span> thank you for permitting us . . . . </p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">Thanks<span style="background-color: #ffff00;">,</span> Lynn. </p> <p>If my name appeared in the middle of the sentence, two commas would set it off: </p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">Thanks, Lynn, for granting permission. </p> <p>People are forgetting this comma because we have dropped it in email greetings:</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">Hi Jeff,</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">Hello Maureen,</p> <p>Nevertheless, the "direct address comma" still belongs in sentences to indicate that we are talking <em>to </em>the reader, not <em>about</em> him or her. </p> <p><strong>Error 2: </strong>Mistakes with <em>however</em><em> </em>between sentences keep popping up, and writers should know better. When the word <em>however </em>connects two sentences (independent clauses), a semicolon--not a comma--must come before <em>however</em>:<em> </em></p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">I always appreciate your practical tips<span style="background-color: #ffff00;"><strong>;</strong></span> however, I did not understand one of the points in a recent blog post.</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">I always thought "I" was the proper pronoun<span style="background-color: #ffff00;"><strong>;</strong> </span>however, you indicated that "me" is correct.</p> <p><em>However </em>is not like <em>and </em>or <em>but. </em>Those conjunctions can connect sentences with just a comma. But <em>however </em>is an adverb like <em>nevertheless </em>and <em>nonetheless</em>; it needs a semicolon before it when it connects two sentences. </p> <p><strong>Error 3:</strong> Mistakes in subject-verb agreement are everywhere these days. The sample passage contained these two:</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">The content and your approach <span style="background-color: #ffff00;">is</span> extremely helpful. (<em>Is </em>should be <em>are.</em>)</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">Your advice and feedback <span style="background-color: #ffff00;">is</span> much appreciated. (Again, <em>is </em>should be <em>are.</em>)</p> <p>Writers know that plural subjects such as "advice and feedback" need a plural verb, but they are moving too fast to think about it. </p> <p>Can you help eliminate these errors in 2015? Spread the word! Unfortunately, our grammar and spelling checkers won't help us. Mine found just two of the six mistakes, and it encouraged me to make an additional error. </p> <p>Which errors most often blemished the pieces you read in 2014? </p> <p>Happy new year! </p> <p><em><span style="color: #0000bf;">Lynn</span></em> <br /><a href="http://syntaxtraining.com" target="_self" title="Visit Lynn's company website">Syntax Training</a> </p> </div> <!-- SIGNATURE --> </div> <div class="entry-footer"> <p class="entry-footer-info"> <span class="post-footers">December 31, 2014 in <a href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/frequently_asked_questions/">Frequently Asked Questions</a>, <a href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/grammar_and_usage/">Grammar and Usage</a>, <a href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/punctuation_pointers/">Punctuation Pointers</a> </span> <span class="separator">|</span> <a class="permalink" href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2014/12/top-three-writing-errors-of-2014.html">Permalink</a> <span class="separator">|</span> <a class="entry-comments" href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2014/12/top-three-writing-errors-of-2014.html#comments">Comments (14)</a> <span class="separator">|</span> <a class="entry-trackbacks" href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2014/12/top-three-writing-errors-of-2014.html#trackback">TrackBack (0)</a> </p> <!-- technorati tags --> <!-- post footer links --> </div> </div> </div> <h2 class="date-header">December 18, 2014</h2> <div class="entry-category-courteous_writing entry-category-email entry-category-etiquette entry-author-lynn_gaertnerjohnston entry-type-post entry" id="entry-6a00d8341c02a553ef01bb07c7c2db970d"> <div class="entry-inner"> <h3 class="entry-header"><a href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2014/12/john-hopkins-apology-how-it-fell-short.html">Johns Hopkins' Apology: How It Fell Short</a></h3> <div class="entry-content"> <input type="hidden" name="zemanta-related" val="" /> <div class="entry-body"> <p>You may have read <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/johns-hopkins-mistakenly-says-yes-to-hundreds-of-rejected-applicants/2014/12/16/20b5f9f4-8575-11e4-b9b7-b8632ae73d25_story.html?wpisrc=nl-most&amp;wpmm=1" target="_self" title="Read the story online">The Washington Post</a> story about Johns Hopkins University sending early-acceptance emails to 294 students who had not been accepted. Here's the story in brief: </p> <p>Nine of the 294 students had already received deferrals to the regular admission process (not early acceptance), and 285 had already been denied admission. Unfortunately, a contractor company, ApplicationsOnline, used an incorrect email list and welcomed the 294 applicants with a joyful 144-word email whose subject was "Embrace the YES!" According to <em><a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/e-mail-text-the-johns-hopkins-admissions-misfire/2014/12/17/9fbf9826-8607-11e4-9534-f79a23c40e6c_story.html%20" target="_self" title="Read the emails">The Washington Post</a>, </em>it began:</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">Dear ______, [with the student's first name]</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">Welcome to the Class of 2019! We can’t wait for you to get to campus.</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">Until then, as one of the newest members of the family, we hope you’ll show your Blue Jay pride. </p> <p>The acceptance email went on to talk about the cool communications in the student's future: </p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">You’re among the first with the right to use #JHU2019. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are waiting for you. (And so are we! We’ll be collecting your tweets, updates, and photos to share with the whole JHUniverse.)</p> <p>Then, hours later, came the second rejection, with the subject "Apology for Email Error":</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">Dear ________, [with the student's first name]</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">Earlier today, you may have received an email from us with the subject line: Embrace the YES!</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">Please note that this email was sent in error.</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">The decision posted on the decision site reflects the accurate result of your Early Decision application.</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">We regret this technical mistake and any confusion it may have caused.</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">Sincerely,<br />The Office of Undergraduate Admissions<br />The Johns Hopkins University</p> <p>Is that 54-word apology sufficient? No, it's a mechanical, hasty message sent out quickly to correct an error.  </p> <p>Having recently gone through the college application process with my daughter, I can imagine how some of the misinformed students may have felt: confused, guardedly excited, and eventually heartbroken--again. After all, this was their second rejection email from the prestigious JHU. </p> <p>In his excellent book <em>On Apology, </em>Dr. Aaron Lazare, retired dean of the University of Massachusetts Medical School, identifies four parts of an effective apology:</p> <ol> <li>Acknowledging the offense </li> <li>Explaining what happened</li> <li>Communicating feelings such as remorse, shame, humility, and sincerity</li> <li>Making or offering reparations </li> </ol> <p>The Johns Hopkins "apology" falls short in all four parts.</p> <p>1. It barely acknowledges the offense. The sentence "Please note that this email was sent in error" does not accept blame for the erroneous email or acknowledge its potential harm. </p> <p>2. It does not explain what happened.</p> <p>3. It falls short in communicating feelings. The words "apology" in the subject and "regret" in the email do not communicate sincerity or remorse. In contrast, David Phillips, vice provost for admissions and financial aid at Johns Hopkins, told <em><a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/johns-hopkins-mistakenly-says-yes-to-hundreds-of-rejected-applicants/2014/12/16/20b5f9f4-8575-11e4-b9b7-b8632ae73d25_story.html" target="_self" title="Read the story">The Washington Post</a>:</em></p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">We apologize to the students affected and to their families. Admissions decision days are stressful enough. We very much regret having added to the disappointment felt by a group of very capable and hardworking students, especially ones who were so committed to the idea of attending Johns Hopkins that they applied early decision.</p> <p>That kind of language should have been in the apology--not a perfunctory "We regret this technical mistake." The mistake was much more than technical in its possible hurtfulness. </p> <p>Also, the apology should have come from Mr. Phillips or another person in charge of the admissions process--not from the faceless Office of Undergraduate Admissions.</p> <p>4. It makes no reparations. Granted, real reparations would be difficult if not impossible to make. But a sincere, complete, contrite apology would have gone a long way in repairing the relationship.</p> <p>According to <em>The Washington Post's </em>reporting, other colleges have made similar mistakes in welcoming students who were then barred from admission: Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Fordham, Vassar, and University of California at Davis. Perhaps universities (and their contractors) ought to follow Santa Claus's behavior of "Making a list, checking it twice" before sending out emails broadcasting acceptance. </p> <p>And when they make a mistake, college admissions departments (or their contractors) should put more thought and heart into their apologies to students and their families.</p> <p>Read more on writing effective apologies in the chapter "Write Apologies to Mend Fences and Support Relationships" in my book, <a href="http://syntaxtraining.com/heart.html" target="_self" title="Order the book"><em>Business Writing With Heart</em></a>.</p> <p>How do you feel about the Johns Hopkins incident?</p> <p><span style="color: #0000bf;"><em>Lynn</em></span><br /><a href="http://syntaxtraining.com" target="_self" title="Visit Lynn's company website">Syntax Training</a></p> </div> <!-- SIGNATURE --> </div> <div class="entry-footer"> <p class="entry-footer-info"> <span class="post-footers">December 18, 2014 in <a href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/courteous_writing/">Courteous Writing</a>, <a href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/email/">Email</a>, <a href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/etiquette/">Etiquette</a> </span> <span class="separator">|</span> <a class="permalink" href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2014/12/john-hopkins-apology-how-it-fell-short.html">Permalink</a> <span class="separator">|</span> <a class="entry-comments" href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2014/12/john-hopkins-apology-how-it-fell-short.html#comments">Comments (7)</a> <span class="separator">|</span> <a class="entry-trackbacks" href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2014/12/john-hopkins-apology-how-it-fell-short.html#trackback">TrackBack (0)</a> </p> <!-- technorati tags --> <!-- post footer links --> </div> </div> </div> <h2 class="date-header">December 11, 2014</h2> <div class="entry-category-frequently_asked_questions entry-category-teaching_business_writing entry-category-writing_tips entry-author-lynn_gaertnerjohnston entry-type-post entry" id="entry-6a00d8341c02a553ef01b7c71d4e01970b"> <div class="entry-inner"> <h3 class="entry-header"><a href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2014/12/do-bullet-points-belong-in-letters-.html">Do Bullet Points Belong in Letters? </a></h3> <div class="entry-content"> <input type="hidden" name="zemanta-related" val="" /> <div class="entry-body"> <p>This month I worked with a team of people who often write letters to the public. Their letters include a variety of helpful details. </p> <p>When you have a lot of information to communicate in a letter, do you use traditional paragraphs only? Or do you add headings, bullet points, and other kinds of formatting where they make sense? </p> <p>My client's team was hesitant to add formatting. They wondered: Aren't paragraphs the only building blocks of letters? </p> <p>What do you think? </p> <p>Imagine that you are an accountant (my clients were not). You have a quick message to send to a client who needs to return a refund check to the IRS (Internal Revenue Service, the agency in charge of income taxes in the United States).</p> <p>Which of these two letter is better? Why? </p> <p><strong>Message 1<br /></strong>Dear Mr. Smith:</p> <p>Please find enclosed the letter to be sent by you to the IRS regarding the refund check you mistakenly received from them. Please write “VOID” on the signature line on the back of the refund check. Sign the letter and enclose it with the voided refund check, 2014 voucher, and signed letter in the enclosed envelope and mail it to the IRS.</p> <p>If you have any questions, please contact me at [phone number and email address].</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>Message 2<br /></strong>Dear Mr. Smith:</p> <p>Enclosed are a letter and a 2014 Form 1040-ES voucher for you to send to the IRS with the refund check you received mistakenly from them. Also enclosed is an envelope for your use.</p> <p>Please take the following steps:</p> <ol> <li>Write “VOID” on the signature line on the back of the check.</li> <li>Sign the letter. Enclose it with the voided refund check and the voucher in the envelope.</li> <li>Stamp and mail the envelope to the IRS.</li> </ol> <p>If you have any questions, please contact me at [phone number and email address].</p> <p> </p> <p>Yes, the two short letters are different in a few ways. One important difference is the list of steps. Do you think the list will help Mr. Smith? </p> <p>I use headings and bullet points to help readers scan messages and find what they need quickly--even in letters. Such formatting highlights the content for readers. A heading at the beginning of each paragraph, for example, signals readers about what the paragraph covers. Consider these helpful run-in headings in a letter of agreement:</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;"><strong>Responsibilities:</strong> We will provide a continental breakfast, an LCD projector (with cables), an easel with a flip chart pad, markers, name tents, and a class roster. You are responsible for bringing a laptop computer for your presentation, along with all participant materials, which will include a Life Skills Inventory and a 30-page handout for each participant.</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;"><strong>Payment:</strong> We agree to pay you $1950 for facilitating the workshop and $30 per participant for materials and the Inventory. You will bill us after you complete the session, and we will pay your invoice within 10 business days.</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;"><strong>Rescheduling:</strong> If we must reschedule the workshop for any reason, we may do so with no additional fee if we notify you by June 28. After June 28, we will pay a fee of $550 to cancel or reschedule the workshop.</p> <p>Do you use bolding, bullet points, numbered lists, headings, and other formatting in business letters? Would you like to?</p> <p><em>Lynn</em><br /><a href="http://syntaxtraining.com" target="_self" title="Visit Lynn's company website">Syntax Training</a> </p> </div> <!-- SIGNATURE --> </div> <div class="entry-footer"> <p class="entry-footer-info"> <span class="post-footers">December 11, 2014 in <a href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/frequently_asked_questions/">Frequently Asked Questions</a>, <a href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/teaching_business_writing/">Teaching Business Writing</a>, <a href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/writing_tips/">Writing Tips</a> </span> <span class="separator">|</span> <a class="permalink" href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2014/12/do-bullet-points-belong-in-letters-.html">Permalink</a> <span class="separator">|</span> <a class="entry-comments" href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2014/12/do-bullet-points-belong-in-letters-.html#comments">Comments (11)</a> <span class="separator">|</span> <a class="entry-trackbacks" href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2014/12/do-bullet-points-belong-in-letters-.html#trackback">TrackBack (0)</a> </p> <!-- technorati tags --> <!-- post footer links --> </div> </div> </div> <h2 class="date-header">December 03, 2014</h2> <div class="entry-category-etiquette entry-category-teaching_business_writing entry-category-writing_tips entry-author-lynn_gaertnerjohnston entry-type-post entry" id="entry-6a00d8341c02a553ef01bb07bbaa86970d"> <div class="entry-inner"> <h3 class="entry-header"><a href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2014/12/uas-make-you-look-bad.html">UAs Make You Look Bad</a></h3> <div class="entry-content"> <input type="hidden" name="zemanta-related" val="" /> <div class="entry-body"> <p>How did you feel when you read that title? Puzzled? Curious? Irritated? Perhaps I lost potential readers who did not recognize <em>UAs,</em> didn't want to take time to figure it out,<em> </em>and moved on to another website. </p> <p>UAs = undefined abbreviations, an abbreviation I made up to make a point. It's like <em>TLA</em>, three-letter acronym. (But<em> TLA</em> itself is an initialism, not an acronym. <a href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2005/09/ceo_is_not_an_a.html" target="_self" title="The difference between abbreviation and acronym">Find out why</a>.) </p> <p>Last night I visited the website of an association I am a new member of. I wanted to find out whether any events were coming up that I might add to my calendar. </p> <p>These abbreviations in the event listings were for sister organizations of my association:</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">SMC</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">SPJ</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">AAJA</p> <p>I was not sure what any of the three stood for, although I had an educated guess for <em>SPJ</em>. Clicking on the event links and reading detailed descriptions of the events did not help. For all three, I had to leave the site and use Google to find out what the abbreviations stood for. </p> <p>Who is at fault? Would you blame me for not recognizing Social Media Club, Society of Professional Journalists, and Asian American Journalists Association? Or should the writers have helped me out?  </p> <p>In business writing classes, when I suggest that people spell out or define their abbreviations and acronyms, occasionally someone asks, "Why should I do that? My readers OUGHT to know what these stand for." Yes, perhaps I ought to have recognized those associations by their initials. But I didn't. And I am not alone. </p> <p>It takes just seconds to spell out abbreviations. If you do it just once on a web page or in a message, you can ensure that you are communicating with your readers rather than frustrating them. Here are three easy ways:</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">Better Business Writing (BBW) </p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">Better Business Writing [followed in the next sentence with <em>BBW</em>]</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">BBW (Better Business Writing) </p> <p>Yes, some abbreviations are so well known that you may not need to spell them out, depending on your audience. <em>The Associated Press Stylebook </em>gives <em>CIA, FBI, </em>and <em>GOP </em>as such examples but adds, "That does not mean that its [the abbreviation's] use should be automatic." </p> <p>Undefined abbreviations can make you look bad because they suggest that you either did not think about your audience or did not care. </p> <p>What is your view? Have acronyms and abbreviations confused you? Or do you like to close your email with <em>BR</em>? </p> <p>Best regards,</p> <p><em><span style="color: #0000bf;">Lynn</span></em><br /><a href="http://syntaxtraining.com" target="_self" title="Visit Lynn's company website">Syntax Training</a> </p> </div> <!-- SIGNATURE --> </div> <div class="entry-footer"> <p class="entry-footer-info"> <span class="post-footers">December 03, 2014 in <a href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/etiquette/">Etiquette</a>, <a href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/teaching_business_writing/">Teaching Business Writing</a>, <a href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/writing_tips/">Writing Tips</a> </span> <span class="separator">|</span> <a class="permalink" href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2014/12/uas-make-you-look-bad.html">Permalink</a> <span class="separator">|</span> <a class="entry-comments" href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2014/12/uas-make-you-look-bad.html#comments">Comments (13)</a> <span class="separator">|</span> <a class="entry-trackbacks" href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2014/12/uas-make-you-look-bad.html#trackback">TrackBack (0)</a> </p> <!-- technorati tags --> <!-- post footer links --> </div> </div> </div> <div class="pager-bottom pager-entries pager content-nav"> <div class="pager-inner"> <span class="pager-right"> <a href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/page/2/"><span class="pager-label">Next</span> <span class="chevron">»</span></a> </span> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div id="gamma"> <div id="gamma-inner" class="pkg"> <!-- sidebar2 --> <!-- Google Search --> <script type = "text/javascript"> function clickFocus(input){ input.className = 'focus'; if (input.value == input.defaultValue){ input.value = ''; } } function unFocus(input){ input.className = 'entered'; if (input.value == ''){ input.value = input.defaultValue; input.className = 'normal'; } } </script> <form method="get" action="http://www.google.com/search"> <div class="googlebox"> <input type="hidden" name="ie" value="UTF-8" /> <input type="hidden" name="oe" value="UTF-8" /> <div align="center"><input type="text" name="q" size="14" maxlength="255" value="Search This Blog" class="searchbox" onfocus="clickFocus(this)" onblur="unFocus(this)" /> <input type="submit" name="btnG" value="Go" style="padding:0; margin:0; text-align:center; width:28px; font-family:Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-weight:bold; font-size:11px;" /></div> <span style="font-size:0px;"> <input type="hidden" name="domains" value="www.businesswritingblog.com" /> <input type="hidden" name="sitesearch" value="www.businesswritingblog.com" /> </span> <div align="center"> <a href="http://www.google.com/"><img src="http://www.google.com/logos/Logo_40wht.gif" alt="Google" width="128" height="53" border="0" /></a> </div> </div> </form> <!-- end Search --> <!-- photo adspot --> <a href="http://syntaxtraining.com/heart.html"><img src="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/assets/images/business-writing-with-heart.png" alt="Business Writing with Heart - How to Build Great Work Relationships One Message at a Time" width="177" height="292" style="margin-left:8px;" title="Learn about Lynn’s award-winning book"/></a> <!-- End photo adspot --> <!-- rss / bookmarking --> <div class="subscribebox"><h2>Subscribe</h2> <!-- social subscribe --> <div id="followthis" style="text-align:center; padding:10px 0;"> <span class='st_twitterfollow' displayText='Twitter Follow' st_username='SyntaxLynn'></span> <iframe src="https://www.facebook.com/plugins/likebox.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fsyntaxtraining&width=180&height=270&colorscheme=light&show_faces=true&header=true&stream=false&show_border=false&appId=649758471713658" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" style="padding:0; border:none; overflow:hidden; width:180px; height:270px;" allowTransparency="true"></iframe> </div> <!-- end social --> <div class="module-syndicate module" style="padding:0px; margin:0px;"> <div class="module-content" style="padding:4px 0px 0px 0px; margin:0px; border-bottom:0px #C4D4E5 solid;"> <strong style="font-size:13px;">By Email</strong><br /> <a href="http://www.feedburner.com/fb/a/emailverifySubmit?feedId=2863746&loc=en_US" target="_blank"><span style="font-size:12px; line-height:14px;">Have the latest posts delivered to your inbox!</span></a> <p> <strong style="font-size:13px;">By RSS Feed</strong><br /> <a href="http://feeds.feedburner.com/businesswritingblog/BwB09" title="Works with all email clients such as Outlook, Yahoo! 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