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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. 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"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"> <!-- social sharing --> <div id="beta-inner" class="pkg"> <div id="sharethis" style="text-align:right;"> <span class='st_twitter' st_via='SyntaxLynn' 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">February 05, 2016</h2> <div class="entry-author-lynn_gaertnerjohnston entry-type-post entry" id="entry-6a00d8341c02a553ef01b8d19bf003970c"> <div class="entry-inner"> <h3 class="entry-header"><a href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2016/02/how-would-you-revise-this-sign-.html">How Would You Revise This Sign? </a></h3> <div class="entry-content"> <input type="hidden" name="zemanta-related" val="" /> <div class="entry-body"> <p>This signed appeared today on the door of my local post office. Oh no! The lobby of the post office is closing? How will the people with post office boxes get their mail? But wait . . . maybe . . . .</p> <p>How would you revise the sign so its message is instantly clear? </p> <p><a class="asset-img-link" href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/.a/6a00d8341c02a553ef01b8d19bef73970c-pi" style="display: inline;"><img alt="PO photo" border="0" class="asset asset-image at-xid-6a00d8341c02a553ef01b8d19bef73970c image-full img-responsive" src="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/.a/6a00d8341c02a553ef01b8d19bef73970c-800wi" title="PO photo" /></a></p> <p> </p> <p><em><span style="color: #0000bf;">Lynn</span></em><br /><a href="http://syntaxtraining.com" title="Learn more about business writing">Syntax Training</a></p> </div> <!-- SIGNATURE --> </div> <div class="entry-footer"> <p class="entry-footer-info"> <span class="post-footers">February 05, 2016 </span> <span class="separator">|</span> <a class="permalink" href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2016/02/how-would-you-revise-this-sign-.html">Permalink</a> <span class="separator">|</span> <a class="entry-comments" href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2016/02/how-would-you-revise-this-sign-.html#comments">Comments (0)</a> </p> <!-- technorati tags --> <!-- post footer links --> </div> </div> </div> <h2 class="date-header">February 03, 2016</h2> <div class="entry-category-email entry-category-etiquette entry-author-lynn_gaertnerjohnston entry-type-post entry" id="entry-6a00d8341c02a553ef01bb08b57f7d970d"> <div class="entry-inner"> <h3 class="entry-header"><a href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2016/02/10-things-not-to-tell-your-email-readers.html">10 Things NOT to Tell Your Email Readers</a></h3> <div class="entry-content"> <input type="hidden" name="zemanta-related" val="" /> <div class="entry-body"> <p>Sometimes people say things in email that would be better left unsaid. This list of 10 examples will alert you to statements that can weaken your messages and your business relationships.</p> <p>1. “My manager told me to handle it this way, but I'm not sure he knows what he is talking about.”</p> <p>Why it’s bad: Telling customers or other individuals that you disagree with your manager diminishes your manager—and the entire company. It suggests the company has bad management and bad decision makers. Besides that, the statement presents you as tactless and arrogant. Criticizing your company’s policies sends the same negative message.</p> <p>Instead, inspire confidence: “According to my manager, this is the best way to handle your situation.”</p> <p> </p> <p>2. “I would like to have the contract for you this week, but our legal department takes forever to approve things.”</p> <p>Why it’s bad: Similar to Number 1, criticizing a department like legal, information technology, or human resources belittles the company. For instance, if legal takes “forever,” it is either understaffed, incompetent, or uncooperative rather than nimble, competent, and responsive. Why would someone want to deal with an organization that has mediocre teams?</p> <p>Instead, express support: “I will be sure this contract gets to you as soon as possible.”</p> <p> </p> <p>3. “I am new on the job, and I'm not sure what I am doing yet.”</p> <p>Why it’s bad: Although admitting inexperience can inspire empathy, it can also diminish your readers’ regard for your company and you. It can make readers wonder why your company did not train you before having you do the job, or why you did not learn from your training.</p> <p>Instead, show care and common sense: “Let me confirm the best approach before we move forward.”</p> <p> </p> <p>4. “My assistant does the check requests, and she is out on vacation until the 15th. Then Accounts Payable usually takes a week to cut a check.”</p> <p>Why it’s bad: Details about your internal processes, especially when processes plod along not focused on customers’ or others’ needs, do nothing to satisfy readers. In fact, they make readers doubt your company’s efficiency: Can’t anyone besides your assistant complete a check request? Why does it take a week to cut a check? Justifying a delay by explaining that you are very busy at a particular time of year does not reassure readers either. It makes them wonder why you could not plan and staff for a predictably busy time.</p> <p>Instead, accept responsibility: “I will see that your check is processed as quickly as possible.”</p> <p> </p> <p>5. “I would have had this information for you sooner, but I had a colonoscopy, and it seems to have revealed some problems I was not aware of.”</p> <p>Why it’s bad: Personal information can embarrass readers and make them feel awkward about how and whether they should respond. Unless you have a close relationship with your readers, personal details such as health concerns, legal problems, and small or grown children’s struggles do not belong in your communications. The information might make readers wonder whether you are able to give their needs sufficient attention.</p> <p>Instead, be discreet: “Here is the information you requested. I am sorry for the slight delay.</p> <p> </p> <p>6. “You could’ve gotten free tickets if you had let me know yesterday, but we gave them all away.”</p> <p>Why it’s bad: “Could’ve” and “Should’ve” statements make readers feel bad. And the cold words on the screen can suggest that you enjoy letting people know about their lost opportunity. There is no point in sharing information that readers cannot benefit from.</p> <p>Instead, say nothing or communicate empathy: “I wish I had free tickets for you.”</p> <p> </p> <p>7. “Your email ended ‘Bet wishes’—what’s that supposed to mean?”</p> <p>Why it’s bad: Pointing out someone’s typo, inconsequential error, or minor imperfection wins no friends. Your remark may come across as mean spirited and condescending. Such behavior is like pointing out a pimple on someone’s face. There’s not much he or she can do about it. If you are a supervisor who is coaching an employee on eliminating errors, that’s a different story. But you would communicate about the error without sarcasm.</p> <p>Instead, be tactful and ignore the error.</p> <p> </p> <p>8. “Why did you ask for Friday off when you know I can’t give it to you?”</p> <p>Why it’s bad: It’s impossible to ask such a question in email without endangering a relationship. Readers appreciate neither the assumption that they know certain things nor the questioning of their motives.</p> <p>Instead, respond without suspicion: “I am sorry that taking Friday off is impossible. It’s the start of inventory.” (Provide the appropriate reason.)</p> <p> </p> <p>9. “You probably don’t need this information, but . . . .” (The writer continues with the information.)</p> <p>Why it’s bad: Readers get bogged down in information they do not need. That means they will not be able to focus on what they do need, and you won’t get the results you seek.</p> <p>Instead, offer to provide more information: “If you need more information, just let me know.”</p> <p> </p> <p>10. “I will have this information for you by the end of the day.”</p> <p>Why it’s bad—sometimes: The statement is bad if you will struggle to meet that deadline and may even miss it. Making yourself struggle and potentially missing the deadline are both bad—if the other person never communicated a required time limit.</p> <p>Instead, ask about the reader’s degree of urgency: “I will be happy to get this information. When do you need it?”</p> <p>What would you add to this list? </p> <p>Here are three other blog posts about potentially damaging email content:</p> <p><a href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2011/12/who-should-save-face-you-or-your-reader-.html">"Who Should Save Face--You or Your Reader?"</a><br /><a href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2015/03/10-questions-to-flag-sensitive-situations.html">"10 Questions to Flag Sensitive Situations"</a><br /><a href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2015/08/caution-read-the-thread-before-you-send.html">"Caution: Read the Thread Before You Send"</a></p> <p>This article appeared in slightly different form in the e-newsletter <em><a href="http://www.syntaxtraining.com/newsletter-signup" title="Subscribe.">Better Writing at Work</a>. </em></p> <p><em>Lynn<br /></em><a href="http://syntaxtraining.com" title="Visit the website">Syntax Training</a></p> </div> <!-- SIGNATURE --> </div> <div class="entry-footer"> <p class="entry-footer-info"> <span class="post-footers">February 03, 2016 in <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/2016/02/10-things-not-to-tell-your-email-readers.html">Permalink</a> <span class="separator">|</span> <a class="entry-comments" href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2016/02/10-things-not-to-tell-your-email-readers.html#comments">Comments (9)</a> </p> <!-- technorati tags --> <!-- post footer links --> </div> </div> </div> <h2 class="date-header">January 27, 2016</h2> <div class="entry-category-courteous_writing entry-category-email entry-author-lynn_gaertnerjohnston entry-type-post entry" id="entry-6a00d8341c02a553ef01bb08b26441970d"> <div class="entry-inner"> <h3 class="entry-header"><a href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2016/01/read-carefully-before-you-write-that-email.html">Read Carefully Before You Write That Email</a></h3> <div class="entry-content"> <input type="hidden" name="zemanta-related" val="" /> <div class="entry-body"> <p>Emails have their problems. They can suffer from old subject lines, too many topics, lack of focus, and bad punctuation. But one serious, time-wasting email problem has nothing to do with writing. That problem is reading. Actually it's <em>poor </em>reading--reading an email too fast or only partway before responding. </p> <p>My friend Tina (not her real name) confessed to this example at lunch yesterday: She got an email from a new acting team leader, telling team members about their new roles on the team. Tina got upset when she saw that the new leader had placed a certain older, very experienced person, Jerome, in a junior role on the team. Tina crafted a sensitive email--taking a long time to get it right--explaining why the leader's decision would cause problems for Jerome and others. She recommended that the new leader rethink the roles.</p> <p>Before Tina clicked <strong>Send</strong>, she wisely took a moment to reread the team leader's original message. That's when she realized she had misread it. Jerome would still be in a leadership role. Tina had read the message quickly and mixed up the names. </p> <p>Tina shuddered to think of how much damage her email might have caused. The team leader might have been confused at first, then irritated and angry, then wary of Tina's motives--all because Tina had not slowed down to read the message carefully. </p> <p>Sure, it is possible--even likely--that the original email wasn't written well. But a rereading of the message made it immediately clear to Tina that she had misunderstood.</p> <p>Can you think of times when you have not read an email closely and ended up writing a nonsensical or an unnecessary reply? Or have you received an email whose author had obviously fluttered through your message? </p> <p>I remember replying to a client to ask when she wanted to schedule a class. Too late I realized she had included the preferred date in her original message. Ouch. No harm done, but my reply made me look sloppy.</p> <p>From conversations in business writing classes, I know that unread and hastily read emails lead to millions of unnecessary clarifying, questioning, and problem-solving follow-up messages. </p> <p>Read your email with a sense of responsibility, and I will do the same. Yes, writers can slow us down and drive us nuts because of the way they write. But we can't use people's writing as an excuse to avoid doing our jobs. If we click <strong>Delete</strong> or <strong>Reply </strong>before a careful journey to the end of the message, we share the blame for mix-ups, conflicts, and games of email Ping-Pong. </p> <p>Are you with me? </p> <p><span style="color: #0000bf;"><em>Lynn</em></span><br /><a href="http://syntaxtraining.com">Syntax Training</a>--See our complete list of upcoming classes. </p> </div> <!-- SIGNATURE --> </div> <div class="entry-footer"> <p class="entry-footer-info"> <span class="post-footers">January 27, 2016 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> </span> <span class="separator">|</span> <a class="permalink" href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2016/01/read-carefully-before-you-write-that-email.html">Permalink</a> <span class="separator">|</span> <a class="entry-comments" href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2016/01/read-carefully-before-you-write-that-email.html#comments">Comments (9)</a> </p> <!-- technorati tags --> <!-- post footer links --> </div> </div> </div> <h2 class="date-header">January 20, 2016</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-6a00d8341c02a553ef01bb0810173e970d"> <div class="entry-inner"> <h3 class="entry-header"><a href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2016/01/how-to-change-your-writing-style.html">How to Change Your Writing Style</a></h3> <div class="entry-content"> <input type="hidden" name="zemanta-related" val="" /> <div class="entry-body"> <p>My friend John has a graceful, sophisticated writing style in which paragraph follows elegant paragraph. John wants to change his style so that it takes him less time to communicate in letters, emails, and other pieces. He also wants his writing to be faster to read.</p> <p>To help John (and you) make a writing style change, I offer these tips: </p> <p><strong>1. If your style is sophisticated like John's:</strong><br />Your rich, deep vocabulary and compound-complex sentences can challenge fast-moving readers of email and web content. Try these tactics:</p> <ul> <li>Shorten your words. For each long word, find a shorter, simpler version. Use a thesaurus to replace <em>comprehensible </em>with<em> clear, prerogative </em>with<em> choice, </em>and<em> injudiciously </em>with<em> carelessly.</em></li> <li>Shorten your sentences. Make sure no sentence is longer than about 35 words, and strive for an average sentence length of 20 words or less. Avoid semicolons, the signposts of complex sentence structures.</li> <li>Use short chunks of text, including bullet points, rather than relying on lengthy, well-developed paragraphs.</li> </ul> <p> </p> <p><strong>2. If your style is careful and formal:</strong><br />You will need to adapt your style for informal pieces. For example, newsletter articles, blog posts, and most presentations require a style that connects more personally with the audience. Try these tips:</p> <ul> <li>Shorten your sentences. Avoid long, flowing, complex sentence structures. </li> <li>Use <em>you</em> to address the reader rather than writing “the reader,” “one,” or “a shareholder.” </li> <li>Use first names rather than last names. </li> <li>Use exclamation points occasionally. </li> <li>Break the traditional rules. For instance, write sentences that end with prepositions (“This is the information you have been looking for”), begin with conjunctions (“But the results surprised us”), and contain contractions (“We’re here to help”). </li> <li>Use phrases to replace crisp words. For example, instead of the word <em>occasionally</em>, use “from time to time” or “now and then.” Such phrases are less concise but feel more casual. </li> </ul> <p> </p> <p><strong>3. If your style is informal:</strong><br />When you need to write formally—for example, in site visit reports and proposals—avoid the suggestions in Number 2 above. These steps will help you be formal:</p> <ul> <li>Use complete sentences. Avoid sentence fragments such as “Good to know” or “No surprise.” </li> <li>Use punctuation properly—avoid sprinkling in dashes when you are not sure how to punctuate—as in this incorrect sentence. </li> <li>End your sentences with periods rather than letting them trail off with ellipses, which are illustrated here . . . </li> <li>Avoid smiley faces, unnecessary graphics, and background wallpaper in email. </li> <li>Avoid quotations after your signature in email. </li> </ul> <p> </p> <p><strong>4. If your style is friendly:</strong><br />Recognize that friendly is not always the right tone. For example, when you are denying a claim, writing to eminent scholars, or producing executive meeting notes, you need a more formal tone. Consider the suggestions in No. 3 above, along with these:</p> <ul> <li>Use last names rather than first names.</li> <li>Avoid slang and contractions. Rather than “We’re psyched to meet you!” write “We are looking forward to meeting you.”</li> <li>Avoid writing about your kids’ recitals, your exciting weekend, and other personal news.</li> <li>Avoid mentioning anything personal about your reader. For example, avoid “Hope you had a good weekend” and “I heard you were sick. Hopefully you are feeling better.”</li> </ul> <p> </p> <p><strong>5. If your style is concise:</strong> <br />Conciseness is a virtue in nearly all business writing. But very concise writing can seem abrupt. When you need to “bulk up” your writing so it feels warmer, follow these tips:</p> <ul> <li>Use your reader’s name.</li> <li>Use your own first name—don’t let your messages go unsigned in email.</li> <li>Use complete sentences rather than “Fine” or “Thanks.”</li> <li>Include words and phrases that communicate warmth: <em>happy to, pleased, delighted</em>, etc.</li> <li>Read your message aloud and listen for places to elaborate.</li> <li>Avoid the words <em>immediately</em> and <em>now</em>, which often sound pushy.</li> </ul> <p> </p> <p><strong>6. If your style is wordy:</strong> <br />A flowing conversational style can succeed in fiction and other creative forms of writing. But it can fail in business writing, which usually requires efficient, concise communication. When you need to get your point across concisely, try these tips:</p> <ul> <li>Supply short explanations rather than long ones. Think of them as snacks rather than full meals. Add the note “Let me know if you need more.”</li> <li>Tell yourself that your reader has 100 other pieces to read, and then write accordingly.</li> <li>After you write a message, review the beginning to see whether it includes unnecessary background information or “throat-clearing.” Delete anything that precedes the real message.</li> <li>Take the 10 percent challenge. Whenever you write a piece, force yourself to cut it by at least 10 percent.</li> </ul> <p> </p> <p><strong>7. If your style is analytical:</strong> <br />Good business is built on solid analysis. But most business documents must focus on action and implementation. To shift your writing from analysis to application, take these steps:</p> <ul> <li>Use the heading “Action Required” in your document to focus yourself and the reader on action rather than analysis.</li> <li>Ask yourself, “What is the most important part of this message? What do I want the reader to do?” When you know the answer to those questions, be sure the right information stands out for the reader.</li> <li>Insert an executive summary—not “background”—at the beginning of a long document. Share your conclusions, in brief, in the summary.</li> <li>Use links and attachments for additional information rather than including extra content that may bog down your reader.</li> <li>If you are writing about a product, recognize that your reader will not need to build it—just use it or sell it.</li> <li>Pick up the phone and call. A conversation can get much faster results than a carefully constructed memo, which may not even be read.</li> </ul> <p><br /><strong>8. If your style is dry:</strong> <br />If you excel at facts and figures, you may at times need to enrich your style to be more compelling and persuasive. Try the techniques mentioned in Numbers 1, 2, and 7 above, and apply these tips:</p> <ul> <li>Before you write, think about the most exciting part of what you have to convey. Will it excite your reader? If so, use that part as a recurring theme. For example, if a 10 percent increase in employee retention is most exciting, write “Here is how we achieved that 10 percent” and later “Here is how we will increase retention beyond 10 percent.”</li> <li>Use <em>you, I, </em>and<em> we</em>. Using pronouns will make your writing more down to earth and engaging.</li> <li>Bring data to life with anecdotes and analogies.</li> <li>Replace columns of data with a table or chart that communicates quickly.</li> <li>Add visual interest to an article or report. Use a text box to display an interesting quote, or use color for key headings.</li> </ul> <p><br />If you feel resistant to changing your style, compare a style change to a change in clothing. The clothes you wear grocery shopping would not be appropriate at a fancy wedding. Similarly, the style you use in an email to a friend won’t work well in your project status report to senior executives. And what is in vogue today may seem odd tomorrow.</p> <p>What have you done to change your writing style or to help others change theirs? </p> <p>A version of this article appeared in <em><a href="http://www.syntaxtraining.com/products/clarity" title="Find out more">Clarity, Conciseness, Zing, and More: 262 Ways to Take Business Writing Beyond the Basics</a>.</em></p> <p><em><span style="color: #0000bf;">Lynn</span><br /></em><a href="http://syntaxtraining.com" 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, 2016 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/2016/01/how-to-change-your-writing-style.html">Permalink</a> <span class="separator">|</span> <a class="entry-comments" href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2016/01/how-to-change-your-writing-style.html#comments">Comments (6)</a> </p> <!-- technorati tags --> <!-- post footer links --> </div> </div> </div> <h2 class="date-header">January 11, 2016</h2> <div class="entry-category-frequently_asked_questions entry-category-grammar_and_usage entry-author-lynn_gaertnerjohnston entry-type-post entry" id="entry-6a00d8341c02a553ef01bb08a241c0970d"> <div class="entry-inner"> <h3 class="entry-header"><a href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2016/01/cut-unnecessary-prepositions-but-not-these.html">Cut Unnecessary Prepositions--But Not These</a></h3> <div class="entry-content"> <input type="hidden" name="zemanta-related" val="" /> <div class="entry-body"> <p>When you cut words to make your business writing more concise, be sure to keep the prepositions you need. Some prepositions bring structure and clarity to your sentences. Learn which ones below. </p> <p>A client wrote to me asking whether he needed to use the prepositions in these sentences:</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">We finished <span style="background-color: #ffff00;">on</span> December 2, 2015.</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">The new project will begin <span style="background-color: #ffff00;">in</span> February 2016.</p> <p>He wanted to write:</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">We finished December 2, 2015.</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">The project will begin February 2016.</p> <p>Cutting those prepositions is a bad idea. They did not "finish December 2"--it finished itself. And the project will not "begin February." February will simply begin. The sentences need those little prepositions. </p> <p>These expressions also need their prepositions, according to <em>The Gregg Reference Manual </em>and <em>Garner's Modern American Usage:</em></p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">"depart from": The plane departs from Heathrow at noon. (not "departs Heathrow")</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">"type of": Which type of wine do you prefer? (not "type wine") </p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">"couple of": Just a couple of members have not yet renewed. (not "couple members") </p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">"graduate from": Did he graduate from NYU? (not "graduate NYU") </p> <p><br />Also, be sure to keep prepositions in each part of a series if the preposition changes:</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">He has appeared <span style="background-color: #ffff00;">on</span> stage, <span style="background-color: #ffff00;">in</span> films, and <span style="background-color: #ffff00;">on</span> television. </p> <p>Use just one preposition when it applies to every element in the series:</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">He has appeared <span style="background-color: #ffff00;">in</span> films, plays, and commercials. </p> <p> </p> <p>Which prepositions can you cut? Each of the sentences below has an extra preposition. Can you recognize and eliminate it?  </p> <ol> <li>The meeting is already over with. </li> <li>Where is Dave at today? </li> <li>The recommendation focuses in on ways to eliminate the budget shortfall. </li> <li>You will work alongside of Martine today. </li> <li>Please take this service charge off of my bill. </li> <li>I don't know where Christine is going to after work. </li> <li>Her partner, with whom she spent 27 years with, died last week. </li> </ol> <p><br />These versions are correct:  </p> <ol> <li>The meeting is already over. </li> <li>Where is Dave today? </li> <li>The recommendation focuses on ways to eliminate the budget shortfall. </li> <li>You will work alongside Martine today. </li> <li>Please take this service charge off my bill.</li> <li>I don't know where Christine is going after work. </li> <li>Her partner, whom she spent 27 years with, died last week. (OR: Her partner, with whom she spent 27 years, died last week.)</li> </ol> <p>These blog posts answer more questions about prepositions:</p> <ul> <li><a href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2005/08/rules_from_grad.html">Rules From Grade School</a>, on ending a sentence with a preposition.</li> <li><a href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2010/02/words-to-capitalize-in-titles-and-headings.html">Words to Capitalize in Titles and Headings</a>, with tips on which prepositions to capitalize.</li> <li><a href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2012/06/start-sentences-with-any-word-you-want-.html">Start Sentences With Any Word You Want</a>, reminding you that prepositions can go anywhere.</li> <li><a href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2009/09/nouns-in-a-streamwhat-do-they-mean-.html">Nouns in a Stream--What Do They Mean?</a>, reminding you of the value of prepositions to guide your readers. </li> </ul> <p>Preposition trivia: Do you know the longest one-word preposition? I just found a preposition that is longer than the one I would have guessed. I'll share it later <span style="text-decoration: line-through;">on</span>. </p> <p><span style="color: #0000bf;"><em>Lynn</em></span><br /><a href="http:syntaxtraining.com" 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 11, 2016 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/2016/01/cut-unnecessary-prepositions-but-not-these.html">Permalink</a> <span class="separator">|</span> <a class="entry-comments" href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2016/01/cut-unnecessary-prepositions-but-not-these.html#comments">Comments (1)</a> </p> <!-- technorati tags --> <!-- post footer links --> </div> </div> </div> <h2 class="date-header">December 31, 2015</h2> <div class="entry-category-frequently_asked_questions entry-category-grammar_and_usage entry-category-proofreading entry-category-punctuation_pointers entry-author-lynn_gaertnerjohnston entry-type-post entry" id="entry-6a00d8341c02a553ef01b8d18a69a3970c"> <div class="entry-inner"> <h3 class="entry-header"><a href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2015/12/top-10-writing-errors-of-2015.html">Top 10 Writing Errors of 2015</a></h3> <div class="entry-content"> <input type="hidden" name="zemanta-related" val="" /> <div class="entry-body"> <p>Let's face it. In 2015 typos hid undetected in our writing. So did errors in grammar and punctuation that we would have recognized if we weren't racing to upload, print, or click <strong>Send.</strong> Mistakes happen. </p> <p>But some mistakes happen over and over--not just from moving too fast but from lack of understanding. The 10 items below illustrate the top 10 errors I found in people's writing in 2015. Can you find them? One error per item. </p> <ol> <li>Most of my correspondence is email, however, I also write reports and presentations. <br /><br /></li> <li>Thanks for your time, I appreciate it. <br /><br /></li> <li>Please feel free to contact Jesse Rosen or myself if you have questions.<br /><br /></li> <li>He is responding to a RFP from the public utility.<br /><br /></li> <li>Carmen thanks for your help with the newsletter.<br /><br /></li> <li>A last minute change in one executive's bio delayed the proposal.  <br /><br /></li> <li>When the download is complete the device automatically reboots.<br /><br /></li> <li>We are honored to have partnered with you on this important project and we look forward to our work together next year. <br /><br /></li> <li>Best Regards,<br /><br /></li> <li>Please attend the potluck for new members on January 11th. </li> </ol> <p style="padding-left: 30px;"> </p> <p>Did you find one common error per item? </p> <p><strong>Hints</strong></p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">Punctuation is the problem in Items 1, 2, 5, 6, 7, and 8. </p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">A grammar problem appears in Number 3. </p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">Usage is a problem in Number 4. </p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">Capitalization ruins Number 9. </p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">The rendering of a number mars Item 10. </p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;"> </p> <p><strong>Answer Key With Explanations </strong></p> <ol> <li>Use a semicolon before <em>however </em>when it connects two sentences. In this example, the first sentence is "Most of my correspondence is email." The second is "I also write reports and presentations." If you choose to, you can start a new sentence with <em>however. </em>But if you link two sentences with <em>however, </em>you must use a semicolon before it and a comma after it, like this:<br /><br />    It is cold outside; however, it is not snowing yet. <br /><br /></li> <li>Do not connect two sentences with just a comma. If you do, your sentence will be a run-on. In this example, the first sentence is "Thanks for your time." The second is "I appreciate it." The best way to correct the run-on is to make two sentences. Here's another example: <br /><br />    Call me with any questions. I'm here to help. <br /><br /></li> <li>Use the pronoun <em>me</em>--not <em>myself</em>--as an object in a sentence: "Please feel free to contact <em>me</em>." If you get confused about whether you need <em>I, me, </em>or <em>myself, </em>remove other people from the sentence (as I removed Jesse Rosen). Doing so should help you choose the correct pronoun. Use <em>myself </em>only to emphasize an <em>I </em>used earlier in the sentence, like these: <br /><br />    I called everyone myself. <br />    I myself am responsible for the accounts. <br /><br /></li> <li>Use the article <em>an</em>--not <em>a--</em>before a word or an abbreviation that starts with a vowel sound: <em>an</em> RFP. Here are more correct examples in which the abbreviation starts with a vowel sound: <br /><br />    an FDA recall   an HIV epidemic   an LED screen   <br />    an MBA   an NSA directive   an SUV <br /><br />Note that sometimes an abbreviation is an acronym, which is pronounced as a word:<br /><br />    a NASA news story   a FICO score adjustment <br /><br /></li> <li>Use a comma to set off the reader's name in a sentence. Item 5 needs a comma after <em>Carmen. </em>If you address the reader in the middle of a sentence, you need two commas, like this:<br /><br />    Congratulations, Robby, on your new job!  <br /><br /></li> <li>When you use a combined adjective (such as <em>last-minute</em>)<em> </em>before a noun (such as <em>change</em>), connect the parts of the adjective with hyphens. You can recognize combined adjectives because the parts of the adjective cannot stand alone. Examples: <br /><br />    first-quarter sales (not first sales) <br />    two-door vehicles (not two vehicles) <br />    end-of-year activities (not year activities)<br /><br /></li> <li>Use a comma after an introductory clause. Introductory clauses begin with words such as <em>when, if, although, while, </em>and <em>as. </em>Examples: <br /><br />    When the process completes, the device reboots. <br />    If he calls, please let me know. <br />    While you were out, this package arrived. <br />    As I was saying, this book is wonderful. <br />   </li> <li>Insert a comma between two sentences that you connect with the conjunction <em>and, or, but, nor, for, yet, </em>or <em>so. </em>The comma belongs before the conjunction. In Item 8, the comma belongs before <em>and. <br /><br /></em></li> <li>Capitalize only the first word of the complimentary close: <em>Best regards. <br /><br /></em></li> <li>Do not use ordinal number endings such as <em>th </em>and<em> st</em><em> </em>when you express a date in month-day order. Render the date the way it appears on a calendar. These are correct: <br />    January 11<br />    December 12<br />    March 5 <br />    <br />You can use ordinal numbers when you write the day before the month, as in "See you on the 11th of January." </li> </ol> <p> </p> <p>Which errors did you see too often in 2015? Feel free to share them. </p> <p>Happy new year! </p> <p><span style="color: #0000bf;"><em>Lynn</em></span><br /><a href="http://syntaxtraining.com" title="Visit our company website">Syntax Training </a></p> </div> <!-- SIGNATURE --> </div> <div class="entry-footer"> <p class="entry-footer-info"> <span class="post-footers">December 31, 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>, <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/2015/12/top-10-writing-errors-of-2015.html">Permalink</a> <span class="separator">|</span> <a class="entry-comments" href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2015/12/top-10-writing-errors-of-2015.html#comments">Comments (5)</a> </p> <!-- technorati tags --> <!-- post footer links --> </div> </div> </div> <h2 class="date-header">December 11, 2015</h2> <div class="entry-category-teaching_business_writing entry-category-writing_tips entry-author-lynn_gaertnerjohnston entry-type-post entry" id="entry-6a00d8341c02a553ef01b8d1825e3c970c"> <div class="entry-inner"> <h3 class="entry-header"><a href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2015/12/dear-manager-please-stop-doing-this.html">Dear Manager, Please Stop Doing This!</a></h3> <div class="entry-content"> <input type="hidden" name="zemanta-related" val="" /> <div class="entry-body"> <p>Managers across the globe get in the way of their employees’ growth as writers. They rewrite to suit their whims, correct errors that do not exist, and obstruct employee writing performance in other ways. I know about these behaviors because employees share their frustrations in business writing classes.</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;"><span style="background-color: #ffffbf;">(If you are an employee, feel free to share your frustrations as a comment.)</span></p> <p>If you are a manager, are you tired of not getting the kind of writing you want from your employees? Does rewriting, correcting, and fine-tuning their writing eat up valuable time? Surprise! You may be part of the problem.</p> <p>Consider these eight unhelpful manager behaviors and ways to change them.</p> <p><strong>1. Living in the past.</strong>You live in an earlier century when it comes to writing if you do this: Find fault when your employees end a sentence with a harmless preposition, start a sentence with a powerful “I” or the conjunction “And,” or space once between sentences. Some of the rules that may seem important to you never actually existed. And if they did, they are dead and insignificant now.</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;"><strong>Solution: Step into the 21st century. </strong>Get a current style guide and study it. Make sure your rules exist. You can find recommended resources on my <a href="http://www.syntaxtraining.com/recommended-books/">website</a>.</p> <p><strong>2. Living in your own empire</strong>. Do you issue ultimatums such as “I won’t read an email if it’s more than three sentences!” and “No memos more than a page long!”? Do you instruct writers to “Say it in 25 words or less” or “Write it so all the information fits on my phone’s LCD”? If so, your expectations are tying employees in needless knots. No playing emperor! Plenty of information doesn’t fit within arbitrary limits.</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;"><strong>Solution: Walk on the same ground your employees tread. </strong>Yes, your time is limited, but so is theirs. Don’t make them put their message on a matchbook. Understand that an email may need 10 sentences, and the content of a memo may require a second page. Set realistic expectations.</p> <p><strong>3. Obstructing traffic. </strong>If you require your employees to get your approval for their writing—and then let it sit for days in your inbox—you throw off everyone’s schedule. Even if you end up saying that the piece is perfect, you have slowed the flow of work. And if you require major changes after days have dragged by, you may trigger an emergency, with everyone careening around to meet a deadline.</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;"><strong>Solution</strong>: <strong>Reserve time in your schedule to review</strong> the proposals, reports, and other documents you know are due. Allow yourself 24 hours if that is realistic in your company. Then release the documents and let others get on with their jobs.</p> <p><strong>4. Being a virtuoso. </strong>Some work requires the highest degree of care and precision, but most writing doesn’t. Not approving an employee’s document until you fine-tune “cloudy” to “overcast,” or “expensive” to “costly,” wastes your time and exasperates your employee. Those adjustments add little or nothing, but they take away the employee’s complete responsibility for the work. They make it partly yours.</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;"><strong>Solution:</strong> <strong>Only fiddle with a document when your fiddling</strong> makes the piece significantly better. Only make changes when you can explain to the employee why your wording makes the difference between a successful, professional composition and an inferior product.</p> <p><strong>5. Taking your employees’ job. </strong>If it is your employees’ job to write, don’t steal it away from them. Do not make yourself responsible for their work by rewriting. If you do rewrite, you will have that job forever. Employees will say to themselves and others, “She’ll rewrite it anyway, so there’s no point in doing my best work.”</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;"><strong>Solution:</strong> <strong>Sit down with each employee and go through the writing.</strong> Coach by saying “I don’t know what this long sentence is about. Can you break it up and simplify it?” Instruct with “These acronyms may lose readers. Spell them out the first time you use them.” Yes, this approach takes time, but not a lifetime of rewriting.</p> <p><strong>6. Holding on to the keys. </strong>The person with the keys holds the power, opening doors no one else can. When you make changes to employees’ writing but don’t explain why your way is more effective, you leave employees without the keys to their success. And you set yourself up as the person who is always necessary to make changes.</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;"><strong>Solution:</strong> <strong>Share the keys to effective writing.</strong> Explain to employees what a document needs and how to achieve it. Show them great examples. Give them training and writing resources so they can open doors themselves.</p> <p><strong>7. Keeping them guessing. </strong>When you do not give employees positive feedback on their work, they never know that they have done a good job. They don’t recognize their writing strengths, and they can’t reuse or build on them. Since they can’t see that they have hit the bull’s-eye, their next piece may miss the mark completely.</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;"><strong>Solution:</strong> <strong>Tell writers what they are doing well, and be specific.</strong> Don’t say just “Great job!” Instead say “Very concise, clear, beautifully formatted, and focused on the necessary actions”; then elaborate on those points.</p> <p><strong>8. Lazing on the beach. </strong>When you yourself choose to write badly—in two-word puzzles, torrential rivers, or pitted makeshift sentences, you signal employees that writing doesn’t matter. Lazy writing tells employees that they too might as well relax their standards. As a result, the work that goes out may be second-rate—even when it needs to win confidence and clients.</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;"><strong>Solution:</strong> <strong>Keep your writing professional.</strong> Model the standards you want employees to follow. Wait until your hard-earned vacation to lounge carefree on the beach.</p> <p><strong>Employee writing skills require your investment. </strong>Take time and effort now to help them build their skills, and you will reap long-term benefits.</p> <p>Comments? Please share them.</p> <p>P.S. This article appeared in this month's <em>Better Writing at Work </em>e-newsletter, which includes a coupon code for $20 off my<em> </em>guide <a href="http://www.syntaxtraining.com/products/help-employees" title="Learn more about the guide">Help Employees Write Better: A Guide for Managers, Trainers, and Others Who Care About Business Writing</a><em>. <a href="http://www.syntaxtraining.com/newsletter-signup">Subscribe</a></em> to receive the issue and code. </p> <p><em><span style="color: #0000bf;">Lynn</span></em><br /><a href="http://syntaxtraining.com">Syntax Training</a></p> </div> <!-- SIGNATURE --> </div> <div class="entry-footer"> <p class="entry-footer-info"> <span class="post-footers">December 11, 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/2015/12/dear-manager-please-stop-doing-this.html">Permalink</a> <span class="separator">|</span> <a class="entry-comments" href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2015/12/dear-manager-please-stop-doing-this.html#comments">Comments (11)</a> </p> <!-- technorati tags --> <!-- post footer links --> </div> </div> </div> <h2 class="date-header">December 09, 2015</h2> <div class="entry-category-courteous_writing entry-category-etiquette entry-category-frequently_asked_questions entry-author-lynn_gaertnerjohnston entry-type-post entry" id="entry-6a00d8341c02a553ef01bb089b9265970d"> <div class="entry-inner"> <h3 class="entry-header"><a href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2015/12/names-to-use-for-greetings-and-envelopes-.html">Names to Use for Greetings and Envelopes </a></h3> <div class="entry-content"> <input type="hidden" name="zemanta-related" val="" /> <div class="entry-body"> <p>First name? Last name? His name? Her name? THEIR names? At this time of year, when many people mail holiday greetings, the big questions involve how to render people's names in the greeting and on the printed envelope: How do I write to two doctors? Whose name goes first, the woman's or the man's? How do I address same-sex couples? </p> <p>Below are guidelines and FAQs (frequently asked questions) for what follows “Dear” and appears on envelopes. A comma--not a colon--follows all greetings in these personal messages. In a professional business message, follow your greeting with a colon. </p> <p><strong>When you know your reader and your relationship is friendly, </strong>use his or her first name in the greeting. On the envelope, use a courtesy title or just first and last name.</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;"><strong>Use this greeting:          </strong>Dear Kim,          </p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;"><strong>On the envelope use:    </strong>Ms. Kim Batcher   <br />     <strong>                       OR:</strong>    Kim Batcher </p> <p> </p> <p><strong>When your relationship is formal,</strong> use a courtesy title or a professional title and a last name. Examples of formal relationships are student to professor and nonprofit employee to donor.</p> <p><strong>        Greeting: </strong>Dear Mr. Alfano,                      </p> <p><strong>        Envelope:</strong> Mr. Albert Alfano<strong>        </strong></p> <p><strong>        <br />        Greeting:</strong> Dear Professor Cook,               </p> <p><strong>        Envelope: </strong>Professor Amanda R. Cook</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>When you write to someone who is much older than you or highly esteemed</strong>, use a title and a last name.</p> <p><strong>        Greeting: </strong>Dear Reverend Carlock,          </p> <p><strong>        Envelope: </strong>Reverend Anita Carlock</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>        Greeting:</strong> Dear Dr. Mak,                          </p> <p><strong>        Envelope:</strong> Dr. Ronald D. Mak<br />                <strong>  OR:</strong> Ronald D. Mak, M.D<strong>.</strong></p> <p> </p> <p><strong>When you write to someone you do not know very well,</strong> greet the reader using a title and last name, or use both first and last names without a courtesy title.</p> <p>        <strong>Greeting: </strong>Dear Ms. Yang,      <strong>OR:</strong>  Dear Monica Yang,<br />        <br />        <strong>Envelope: </strong>Ms. Monica Yang<br />                  <strong>OR:</strong> Monica Yang</p> <p><strong>Unless you are certain that a woman prefers the courtesy title <em>Miss </em>or <em>Mrs.,</em></strong> use the title <em>Ms. </em>or leave the title out. Pay attention to women’s signature blocks and online bios and profiles to see whether they communicate a preference. </p> <p><strong>Use <em>Mx</em>. when you write to someone who prefers a gender-neutral courtesy title. </strong>If you have trangender friends and associates, find out which courtesy titles they prefer. </p> <p><strong>Be sure not to switch between a first-name and last-name basis with someone. </strong>If you do, Salma may wonder what she did to suddenly become “Dr. Bishara.” If you have an assistant who prepares your correspondence, be sure he or she knows which approach you want to use.</p> <p><strong>Do not use an academic degree</strong> <strong>(<em>M.S., M.D.</em>) or professional designation (<em>SPHR, Esq.</em>)</strong> in the greeting. On the envelope, if you include an academic degree or professional designation after a person’s name, do not use a courtesy title that indicates the same achievement (for example, do not use <em>Dr.</em> and <em>Ph.D.</em> together). You may use a title and a degree on the same line if doing so is not redundant.<strong>   </strong></p> <p> <strong>    Greeting:    </strong>Dear Dr. Abramson, <br />           <strong>  OR:</strong>     Dear Rabbi Abramson,</p> <p><strong><em><strong>    </strong></em><strong>Envelope:</strong><em><strong>    </strong></em></strong>Rabbi Sydney Abramson, D.D.</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>    Greeting:</strong>     Dear Dr. Pelley,                                </p> <p><strong>    Envelope:</strong>    Olive Pelley, Ph.D.                                                                      </p> <p> <strong>   Greeting:</strong>     Dear Mr. Lowe,</p> <p>    <strong>Envelope:    </strong>Jason Lowe, CPA</p> <p>  </p> <p><strong><em>Jr</em>., <em>Sr</em>., and roman numerals such as <em>III</em> </strong>are normally included on the envelope, unless a message is informal. However, do not include them in your greeting.</p> <p><strong>    Greeting:</strong>     Dear Nicholas,                                  </p> <p>    <strong>Envelope:    </strong>Mr. Nicholas Parson Jr.</p> <p><strong>    </strong></p> <p><strong>    Greeting:</strong>     Dear Mr. Noss,</p> <p><strong>    Envelope:     </strong>Mr. Jonathan Noss III                                                             </p> <p><strong>The modern way to address couples</strong> is to include both spouses' (or partners') names and both of their titles if titles are included. On the envelope, render the names either on the same line or one beneath the other. List first the name of the person with a special title or the primary recipient (for instance, the person you know better).</p> <p><strong>    Greeting:     </strong>Dear Anne and Bruce,</p> <p><strong>    Envelope:    </strong>Anne and Bruce Wright</p> <p>   </p> <p>    <strong>Greeting: </strong>    Dear Anne and Bruce Wright,       </p> <p>    <strong>Envelope:    </strong>Ms. Anne Wright<br />                       Mr. Bruce Wright Jr. </p> <p>   </p> <p><strong>    Greeting:  </strong>   Dear Mr. and Mrs. Wright, </p> <p><strong>    Envelope:  </strong>  Mr. Bruce Wright Jr. and Mrs. Anne Wright</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>The traditional way to greet male-female married couples </strong>is with the man’s title first, then the woman’s title followed by the last name. On the envelope, only the man’s first name appears. This old-fashioned approach irritates many people (including me) because it diminishes the wife's importance.</p> <p><strong>    Greeting:    </strong>Dear Mr. and Mrs. Wright,                          </p> <p><strong>    Envelope:   </strong>Mr. and Mrs. Bruce Wright Jr.</p> <p>    </p> <p>    <strong>Greeting:</strong>    Dear Dr. and Mrs. Terry,     </p> <p>    <strong>Envelope:   </strong>Dr. and Mrs. James Terry</p> <p>    </p> <p>    Greeting:    Dear Senator and Mrs. Smith,  </p> <p>    Envelope:   Senator and Mrs. Gordon Smith </p> <p><strong>   </strong></p> <p><strong>In messages to two people (married, coupled, or not), </strong>include the name of the person with a special title first, or list the main recipient first. Whenever you know your readers well and want to communicate in a friendly way, use first names in the greeting. But avoid using an abbreviated form of a person’s name unless he or she uses it. For example, do not call a Juan Carlos “JC” or an Emily “Em” unless the individual does so.</p> <p><strong>    Greeting:   </strong>Dear Ms. Donne and Mr. Trujillo,    <br />             <strong>OR: </strong>  Dear Drenda and Alex,                                    </p> <p><strong>    Envelope:   </strong>Ms. Drenda Donne<br />                      Mr. Alessandro Trujillo<strong><br /></strong></p> <p>   </p> <p><strong>    Greeting:   </strong>Dear Jules and Ellen,                                         </p> <p><strong>    Envelope:  </strong>Jules Bardo and Ellen Metzler</p> <p> </p> <p><em>Mses. </em>is for more than one woman with the title <em>Ms</em>. You may also use <em>Ms. </em>with each name. </p> <p><strong>    Greeting:</strong>   Dear Mses. Woodard,  <br />           <strong>  OR:</strong>   Dear Loretta and Chanel,   </p> <p>    <strong>Envelope:  </strong>Ms. Loretta Woodard<br />                     Ms. Chanel Woodard<br />             <strong> OR:  </strong>Mses. Loretta and Chanel Woodard</p> <p> </p> <p><em>Messrs.</em> is for more than one man with the title <em>Mr.</em> Its use is quite formal and traditional. You may use <em>Mr.</em> with each man’s name instead.       </p> <p>    <strong>Greeting:</strong>   Dear Messrs. Stone and Raj,<br />          <strong>   OR: </strong>  Dear Mr. Stone and Mr. Raj,</p> <p><strong>    Envelope:</strong>  Mr. Joseph Stone<br />                    <span style="font-size: 8pt;"> </span> Mr. Alain Raj</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>Know which titles to spell out.</strong> Never spell out the titles <em>Mr., Ms., Mrs.,</em> <em>Mx.</em>, and <em>Dr. </em>Do spell out these titles and similar ones: <em>Professor, Dean, Sister, Rabbi, Imam, Senator, Governor, Admiral, </em>and<em> Judge.</em> </p> <p><strong>    Greeting:   </strong>Dear Captain Klein and Professor Klein, </p> <p><strong>    Envelope:  </strong>Captain Erika I. Klein<br />                      Professor Roger K. Klein</p> <p><strong>   </strong></p> <p><strong>    Greeting:   </strong>Dear Reverend Paul and Mr. White,     <br />             <strong>OR: </strong>  Dear Tim and Dan,                                    </p> <p><strong>    Envelope:   </strong>Reverend Timothy Paul <br />                      Mr. Daniel White</p> <p><strong>       </strong></p> <p><strong>    Greeting:</strong>   Dear Drs. Gerber and Singh, <br />          <strong>   OR: </strong>  Dear Dr. Gerber and Dr. Singh,      </p> <p><strong>    Envelope:</strong>   Dr. Robin Gerber<br />                      Dr. Gaurav Singh</p> <p> </p> <p>    <strong>Greeting:</strong>   Dear Dr. and Mrs. Ellis, [or Ms.]       <strong>   </strong>      </p> <p><strong>    Envelope:</strong>   Dr. Moises Ellis [or cut <em>Dr.</em> and use <em>M.D.</em>]<br />                      Mrs. Renee Ellis [or <em>Ms.</em>]</p> <p> </p> <p>    <strong>Greeting:</strong>    Dear Drs. Moody,           <strong>  </strong></p> <p><strong>    Envelope:</strong>   Dr. Claire P. Moody<br />                      Dr. James M. Moody</p> <p> <strong>    </strong></p> <p><strong>    Greeting:   </strong>Dear Mr. Lee and Ms. Roy-Lee,                       </p> <p><strong>    Envelope:  </strong>Mr. Anthony Lee Jr.<br />                     Ms. Susan Roy-Lee<strong><br /></strong></p> <p>  </p> <p><em>Mesdames</em> is for more than one woman with the title <em>Mrs</em>. Like <em>Messrs</em>., it is formal and traditional. You may use <em>Mrs. </em>with each name.             </p> <p>    <strong>Greeting:</strong>  Dear Mesdames Hain and Pham,     <br />          <strong>   OR: </strong> Dear Mrs. Hain and Mrs. Pham,    </p> <p><strong>    Envelope:</strong> Mrs. Marie Hain<br />                    Mrs. Lu Pham</p> <p>                                 </p> <p><strong>Answers to Frequently Asked Questions </strong></p> <p><strong>1. Is it acceptable to use <em>& </em>(the ampersand) between names in the salutation?</strong></p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">No. It is traditionally not acceptable to use the ampersand for <em>and </em>in the salutation.</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>2. If the person I am writing to uses two last names, do I use both or only one of them in the greeting?</strong></p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">You use both names in the greeting. </p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">Dear Mr. Garcia Lopez,     Dear Ms. Gaertner-Johnston,</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;"> </p> <p><strong>3</strong>. <strong>Is it better to err on the side of friendliness or formality?</strong></p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">You will virtually always be correct if you use a courtesy title or a professional title such as <em>Ms., Mr., Dr., Father, </em>or<em> Dea</em>n for your recipient. But think about whether you want the communication to feel personal or professional, informal or formal. </p> <p> </p> <p><strong>4.</strong> <strong>If I am writing to a family and each person has the same last name, what is the proper greeting?</strong></p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">The easiest way is to use first names.                         </p> <p style="padding-left: 60px;"><strong>Greeting:</strong> Dear Don, Julie, and Julian,                         <br /><strong>Envelope:</strong> Don, Julie, and Julian Burke</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>5. When writing to an entire family, should everyone’s name be on the envelope and in the greeting?</strong></p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">Rather than crowd envelopes and greetings with many names, you can use the parents’ names with “and Family.” For example, address the envelope to “Ernest and Kate Elgin,” with a greeting to “Dear Ernest, Kate, and Family.” Or use just the last name in both places: on the envelope “The Robinsons” and for a greeting “Dear Robinsons.” </p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;"> </p> <p>6. <strong>Should I use <em>Miss</em> or <em>Ms.</em> for a young girl? </strong></p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;"><em>Emily Post’s Etiquette </em>suggests the use of <em>Miss </em>until age 16 to 18, then <em>Ms. The Gregg Reference Manual </em>recommends addressing teenage girls as <em>Ms. </em>or <em>Miss, </em>following the girl’s preference when you know it. For younger girls, <em>Gregg </em>indicates that you may use a title or omit it.</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;"><strong>For boys, </strong><em>Emily Post’s Etiquette </em>recommends the title <em>Master </em>until age 6 to 7, then no title until age 16 to 18 years, then <em>Mr.</em> In contrast, <em>The Gregg Reference Manual </em>recommends addressing a boy as <em>Mr. </em>when he becomes a teenager. <em>Gregg </em>notes that <em>Master </em>is rarely seen.</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>7. If I am sending a letter to many people, may I use a greeting such as “Dear Stephen et al.”? </strong></p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;"><em>Et al.</em>, which is Latin for “and others,” is not appropriate in a greeting. Many people will stumble over it, detracting from your message, and it's too clinical for a relationship-building message. If you need to greet up to five people, use all of their names. If you have more than five readers, try a group greeting such as:</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">Dear Chamber Members,          </p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;"> </p> <p>These ideas come from my <a href="http://www.syntaxtraining.com/products/heart" title=""Business Writing With Heart"">award-winning book</a>, <em>Business Writing With Heart: How to Build Great Work Relationships One Message at a Time.</em> Get this<em> </em>excellent gift for yourself or anyone who wants to build business relationships. </p> <p><span style="color: #0000bf;"><em>Lynn</em></span><br /><a href="http://syntaxtraining.com" title="Visit our company website">Syntax Training</a></p> </div> <!-- SIGNATURE --> </div> <div class="entry-footer"> <p class="entry-footer-info"> <span class="post-footers">December 09, 2015 in <a href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/courteous_writing/">Courteous Writing</a>, <a href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/etiquette/">Etiquette</a>, <a href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/frequently_asked_questions/">Frequently Asked Questions</a> </span> <span class="separator">|</span> <a class="permalink" href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2015/12/names-to-use-for-greetings-and-envelopes-.html">Permalink</a> <span class="separator">|</span> <a class="entry-comments" href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2015/12/names-to-use-for-greetings-and-envelopes-.html#comments">Comments (2)</a> </p> <!-- technorati tags --> <!-- post footer links --> </div> </div> </div> <h2 class="date-header">November 13, 2015</h2> <div class="entry-category-proofreading entry-category-punctuation_pointers entry-author-lynn_gaertnerjohnston entry-type-post entry" id="entry-6a00d8341c02a553ef01b7c7ec1adc970b"> <div class="entry-inner"> <h3 class="entry-header"><a href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2015/11/correct-this-sign-.html">Correct This Sign </a></h3> <div class="entry-content"> <input type="hidden" name="zemanta-related" val="" /> <div class="entry-body"> <p>This sign includes several subtle errors. Can you find and correct them? Please share your brief corrections--no need to rewrite the content.</p> <p>I will post my corrections on November 16. Enjoy the weekend!</p> <p><a class="asset-img-link" href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/.a/6a00d8341c02a553ef01bb08904ca0970d-pi" style="display: inline;"><img alt="Eye Protection" border="0" class="asset asset-image at-xid-6a00d8341c02a553ef01bb08904ca0970d image-full img-responsive" src="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/.a/6a00d8341c02a553ef01bb08904ca0970d-800wi" title="Eye Protection" /></a></p> <p> </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">November 13, 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/2015/11/correct-this-sign-.html">Permalink</a> <span class="separator">|</span> <a class="entry-comments" href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2015/11/correct-this-sign-.html#comments">Comments (12)</a> </p> <!-- technorati tags --> <!-- post footer links --> </div> </div> </div> <h2 class="date-header">November 03, 2015</h2> <div class="entry-category-frequently_asked_questions entry-category-punctuation_pointers entry-author-lynn_gaertnerjohnston entry-type-post entry" id="entry-6a00d8341c02a553ef01b7c7e70a48970b"> <div class="entry-inner"> <h3 class="entry-header"><a href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2015/11/do-not-use-apostrophes-to-make-plurals.html">Do Not Use Apostrophes to Make Plurals</a></h3> <div class="entry-content"> <input type="hidden" name="zemanta-related" val="" /> <div class="entry-body"> <p>Please--don't do it. Don't use apostrophes to make expressions plural, like this:</p> <p><a class="asset-img-link" href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/.a/6a00d8341c02a553ef01bb088adec6970d-pi" style="display: inline;"><img alt="Apostrophe plural" border="0" class="asset asset-image at-xid-6a00d8341c02a553ef01bb088adec6970d image-full img-responsive" src="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/.a/6a00d8341c02a553ef01bb088adec6970d-800wi" title="Apostrophe plural" /></a></p> <p>This photo of a plumbing supply company storefront is NOT for a company owned by people named Spa and Pool. If it were, <em>Spa's & Pool's</em> might be the perfect sign. </p> <p><em>Spas & Pools</em>--that's what the sign should say. </p> <p>Google knows better. When I typed <em>Spa's and Pool's</em> into the search box, it responded: </p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">Did you mean: spas and pools</p> <p>Yes, Google, the owner of the company meant <em>Spas & Pools--</em>the sign is simply wrong. </p> <p>You may be wondering whether it is ever correct to use an apostrophe to form a plural. Yes, occasionally that use makes sense. These rules and examples are taken from <em>The Gregg Reference Manual (Gregg), </em>with additional notes from <em>Garner's Modern American Usage (Garner's) </em>and <em>The Associated Press Stylebook (AP). </em></p> <ol> <li>Capital letters and abbreviations ending with capital letters are made plural by adding <em>s </em>alone. Examples: three Rs, two Cs, HMOs, FAQs, Ph.D.s, DVDs<br />However, use an apostrophe before the <em>s </em>where confusion might otherwise result. Examples: three A's, too many I's, two U's (The plurals might otherwise be seen as <em>As, Is, </em>and<em> Us</em>.)<br /><br /><em><em>AP </em><span style="font-style: normal;">agrees with </span><em>Gregg. <br /><br /></em>Garner's </em>recommends an apostrophe with capitalized abbreviations that contain periods. Example: M.B.A.'s. <br /><br /></li> <li>For the sake of clarity, uncapitalized letters and most uncapitalized abbreviations are made plural by adding an apostrophe and an <em>s. </em>Examples: dotting the <em>i</em>'s, wearing pj's, <em>p</em>'s and <em>q</em>'s, bbc's<br /><em><br />Garner's </em>agrees with <em>Gregg</em>, citing <em>gif's </em>as an example. <br /><br /><em>AP </em>does not discuss uncapitalized letters; for single letters, it uses the apostrophe, citing <em>p's </em>and <em>q</em>'s. <br /><br /></li> <li>If the plural form is unfamiliar or is likely to be misread, use an apostrophe and an <em>s </em>to form the plural. Examples: <em>or</em>'s or <em>nor</em>'s, <em>which</em>'s and <em>that</em>'s (rather than <em>ors </em>or<em> nors, whiches </em>and<em> thats</em>). <br /><em><br /><em>AP </em><span style="font-style: normal;">does not use an apostrophe in these situations, just simple plurals. <br /><br /></span>Garner's </em>prefers using typography rather than apostrophes in these situations, with the word itself in italic type and the <em>s </em>in roman type. Example: Trim the number of <em>of</em>s to tighten prose. <br /><br />Everyone agrees that if the singular form contains an apostrophe, add only an <em>s </em>to form the plural. Examples: <em>ain't</em>s, <em>don't</em>s<br /><br /></li> </ol> <p>When I learned the rules of plurals many years ago, I think I learned to add an apostrophe to make numbers plural, things like 1970's<em> </em>and temperatures in the 80's. My copy of the <em>Handbook of Business English, </em>published in 1914 (No, I'm not <em>that </em>old! I got it from my 100-year-old cousin), says to use the apostrophe to indicate the plural of figures.</p> <p>However, these days we use only an <em>s </em>to make numbers plural: 1970s, 80s, W-2s, 1099s, MP3s, etc. <em>Gregg, Garner's </em>and <em>AP </em>agree on these number plurals without apostrophes. Still, the <em>New Oxford Style Manual </em>points out that "find all the number 7's" may be useful. Without that apostrophe, readers might look for the number 7 with a letter <em>s </em>after it. </p> <p>In my business writing classes, the word that people most often render incorrectly is <em>memos, </em>into which they have inserted an apostrophe. But <em>memos </em>is the correct plural. The term <em>memo's </em>is correct only when you intend it to be possessive: The memo's subject line is too long. </p> <p>Except for the few exceptional situations above, don't use an apostrophe to form a plural. It will grab your readers' attention, but not for a good reason. </p> <p>If you and your team argue about apostrophes and other punctuation marks, why not take our upcoming online class <a href="http://www.syntaxtraining.com/media/Punctuation_Dec_8_and_15_2015.pdf" target="_self" title="Learn about the class">Punctuation for Professionals</a> together? A group discount applies. Our website always has information about <a href="http://www.syntaxtraining.com/classes/upcoming-classes/" target="_self" title="Learn about classes">upcoming classes</a>.</p> <p>Feel free to share your bad <span style="text-decoration: line-through;">example's</span> examples of apostrophes for plurals here. </p> <p><em><span style="color: #0000bf;">Lynn</span></em><br /><a href="http://syntaxtraining.com" target="_self" title="Visit our company website">Syntax Training</a></p> <p> </p> </div> <!-- SIGNATURE --> </div> <div class="entry-footer"> <p class="entry-footer-info"> <span class="post-footers">November 03, 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/punctuation_pointers/">Punctuation Pointers</a> </span> <span class="separator">|</span> <a class="permalink" href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2015/11/do-not-use-apostrophes-to-make-plurals.html">Permalink</a> <span class="separator">|</span> <a class="entry-comments" href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2015/11/do-not-use-apostrophes-to-make-plurals.html#comments">Comments (12)</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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