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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">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 (9)</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> <h2 class="date-header">November 25, 2014</h2> <div class="entry-category-frequently_asked_questions entry-category-how_to_write_____ entry-category-teaching_business_writing entry-category-writing_tips entry-author-lynn_gaertnerjohnston entry-type-post entry" id="entry-6a00d8341c02a553ef01bb07b4d3a2970d"> <div class="entry-inner"> <h3 class="entry-header"><a href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2014/11/how-to-write-the-opening-sentence-.html">How to Write the Opening Sentence </a></h3> <div class="entry-content"> <input type="hidden" name="zemanta-related" val="" /> <div class="entry-body"> <div>In an <a href="http://syntaxtraining.com/PDF/Writing_Tune-Up_Dec_4_and_5_2014.pdf" target="_self" title="Learn about the class">online Writing Tune-Up</a> class, an attendee wrote what he wanted to get from the class: "My most time-consuming task is developing a good opening sentence. Any tips on that?" </div> <div> </div> <div>Yes! The first sentence <em>can</em> be the trickiest one to write--not just for novelists and essayists, but for business writers too. Here are three tips and many examples to help you write your first sentence with less effort and more confidence.</div> <p>1.<strong> In your first sentence, answer the question your readers are asking: What is this about?</strong></p> <div>Examples:</div> <blockquote dir="ltr"> <div>"This report explains our plan for refurbishing returned, damaged products."</div> <p>"This recommendation offers a solution to the problem of delayed responses to customer inquiries." </p> <p>"During a recent claims adjusting process, we discovered some concerns with your property that must be addressed."</p> <p>"I am pleased to inform you that we have hired a new Vice President of Human Resources."</p> </blockquote> <p>Too often writers open with ineffective "throat clearing" that loses readers and gets in the way of the real message. Answering the question "What's this about?" at the start of the communication will help you avoid wordy, unproductive openings.</p> <p><strong>2. Start your first sentence with "I am writing to . . ."</strong></p> <p>Examples:</p> <blockquote dir="ltr"> <p>"I am writing to update you on changes in our travel policy."</p> <p>"I am writing to request permission to reprint your recent article on finding the right mentor." </p> </blockquote> <p>You may think this approach is inelegant and obvious. Maybe someone chided you, saying, "Of course, you're writing! You don't need to tell people that!" Nevertheless, the opening "I am writing to . . ." helps you and your readers recognize the purpose of your message.</p> <p>Once you have drafted your message, you may be able to eliminate or edit the opening "I am writing to." For example, you can remove those words from this opening sentence:</p> <blockquote dir="ltr"> <p>"<span style="text-decoration: line-through;">I am writing to</span> Thank you for your generous contribution to the auction benefiting the senior soccer team."</p> </blockquote> <p dir="ltr">You can shorten "I am writing to request permission" to "I am requesting permission."</p> <p><strong>3. For a persuasive message, include <em>you</em> or <em>your</em> or both words</strong> in your first sentence to focus on your reader and your reader's needs.</p> <p>Examples:</p> <blockquote dir="ltr">"When you think about your financial future, do you feel confident or anxious?" <p>"Get answers to all your benefits questions at this Friday's Benefits Fair and Field Trip."</p> <p>"You and your team can get first choice of interns by participating in our new recruiting program."</p> <p>"If you are interested in offering your executive communication classes in Canada, please consider hiring me, a Canadian consultant with significant experience in persuasive speaking."</p> </blockquote> <div> </div> <div><strong>Use these opening sentences as models for a variety of writing tasks:</strong></div> <blockquote dir="ltr"> <div><strong>Respond to a letter of complaint:</strong> Thank you for writing to us about your experience in the airport last week.</div> <p><strong>Confirm an agreement:</strong> I am happy to confirm our agreement about the summer institute.</p> <p><strong>Provide a reference:</strong> Jessica Dell has asked me to provide information to you in support of her job application, and I am pleased to do so.</p> <div><strong>Request a letter of reference:</strong> I am applying to graduate schools in marine biology, and I would be very grateful if you would write a letter of reference for me.</div> <div> </div> <div><strong>Request approval:</strong> I would appreciate your approval to attend a training program on project management to meet my annual performance goals. Here are the details:</div> <div> </div> <div><strong>Request information:</strong> I am seeking the answers to two questions about customs declarations for a shipment to Russia.</div> <div> </div> <div><strong>Share information:</strong> I received some important information from Dr. Owens, and I believe it will be useful to you as you analyze the research data.</div> <p><strong>Explain a change in policy:</strong> I want to let you know about a new tuition reimbursement policy we will implement in January.</p> <div><strong>Report on a site visit:</strong> This report covers observations on your hazmat program by the Safety Inspection team that visited your site on November 12.</div> <div> </div> <div><strong>Deny a request:</strong> Thank you for writing to ask about attending the conference in Baltimore. I wish I could approve your request.</div> <p><strong>Apologize:</strong> Please accept my apology for missing the meeting yesterday. I am sorry that a medical appointment prevented my attending.</p> <p><strong>Congratulate:</strong> Congratulations on successfully passing the bar exam. Your hard work has paid off!</p> <div><strong>Invite: </strong>You are invited to Venture Capital Chat on Thursday, December 4, from 4 to 6 p.m. at the Arena Theater.  </div> <div> </div> <div><strong>Market a training program:</strong> Do you ever feel awkward or lost at networking events? This 90-minute program, Networking Made Easy . . .</div> <div> </div> <div><strong>Introduce a procedure:</strong> This procedure explains how to complete an action form to request services from Building Maintenance.</div> <div> </div> <div><strong>Introduce a new employee:</strong> I am pleased to introduce Kathlyn Vargas, Manager of Training and Development.</div> <div> </div> <div><strong>Introduce yourself:</strong> As a second-year student in the Executive MBA program, I am writing to request a brief meeting with you to discuss opportunities in market research.</div> <div> </div> </blockquote> <div>If you cannot decide how to begin, even using the tips and examples above, go on to the next section of your message or document. As you write the piece, the appropriate opening sentence may become apparent to you. You may even realize that your intended second sentence or section is perfect as the opening.</div> <div> </div> <div>Don't struggle with openings. Many business readers prefer that you get to the point rather than presenting an elegant, clever opening. Think "efficiency" rather than "masterpiece."</div> <div> </div> <div>Note: This article originally appeared in my monthly newsletter, <em><a href="http://syntaxtraining.com/signup.html" target="_self" title="Subscribe here">Better Writing at Work</a>. </em>For more tips that take your writing from adequate to excellent, get <em><a href="http://www.syntaxtraining.com/clarity.html" target="_self" title="Learn more about the "Clarity" guide">Clarity, Conciseness, Zing, and More: 262 Ways to Take Business Writing Beyond the Basics</a>. </em></div> <div> </div> <div>Which types of messages are hardest for you to start? </div> <div> </div> <div><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></div> </div> <!-- SIGNATURE --> </div> <div class="entry-footer"> <p class="entry-footer-info"> <span class="post-footers">November 25, 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/how_to_write_____/">How to Write ____</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/2014/11/how-to-write-the-opening-sentence-.html">Permalink</a> <span class="separator">|</span> <a class="entry-comments" href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2014/11/how-to-write-the-opening-sentence-.html#comments">Comments (3)</a> <span class="separator">|</span> <a class="entry-trackbacks" href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2014/11/how-to-write-the-opening-sentence-.html#trackback">TrackBack (0)</a> </p> <!-- technorati tags --> <!-- post footer links --> </div> </div> </div> <h2 class="date-header">November 19, 2014</h2> <div class="entry-category-positive_language entry-category-teaching_business_writing entry-author-lynn_gaertnerjohnston entry-type-post entry" id="entry-6a00d8341c02a553ef01bb07aeb2e3970d"> <div class="entry-inner"> <h3 class="entry-header"><a href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2014/11/challenge-can-you-make-safety-sound-fun.html">Can You Make Safety Sound Fun?</a></h3> <div class="entry-content"> <input type="hidden" name="zemanta-related" val="" /> <div class="entry-body"> <p>At a park in beautiful Florida this week, I found a great play structure in the shape of a ship. A safety brochure covered the rules (below).</p> <p>Challenge: Can you revise the rules so they make safety sound cool, with a focus on safe fun rather than on regulations? After all, it's a play structure, not a prison.</p> <p>Suggestions: Turn negative statements to positive or neutral, communicate calmly, and focus on what TO do rather than what NOT to do. </p> <p> I included a typed version to work with.  </p> <p><strong><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><a class="asset-img-link" href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/.a/6a00d8341c02a553ef01bb07aeb536970d-pi" style="display: inline;"><img alt="Ship rules" border="0" class="asset asset-image at-xid-6a00d8341c02a553ef01bb07aeb536970d image-full img-responsive" src="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/.a/6a00d8341c02a553ef01bb07aeb536970d-800wi" title="Ship rules" /></a><br /></span></strong></p> <p> </p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;"><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong>RULES</strong></span></p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;"><strong>ADULT SUPERVISION REQUIRED</strong></p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;"><strong>NO</strong> unattended children!</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">Play at your own risk!</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">Play area intended for children 2-12 years of age!</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">Remove all loose cords, belts, ties or ribbons from clothing or hats!</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;"><strong>NO</strong> bare feet!</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">Proper footwear required!</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;"><strong>NO</strong> food or drink on the structure!</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;"><strong>NO</strong> running, pushing, or shoving!</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;"><strong>NO</strong> climbing on the trees! </p> <p> </p> <p>I will post my revision tomorrow after the long flight home.</p> <p>Have fun! </p> <p><a href="http://syntaxtraining.com" target="_self" title="Visit Lynn's website"><em><span style="color: #0000bf;">Lynn</span></em></a><br /><a href="http://syntaxtraining.com" target="_self" title="Visit Lynn's website">Syntax Training </a></p> </div> <!-- SIGNATURE --> </div> <div class="entry-footer"> <p class="entry-footer-info"> <span class="post-footers">November 19, 2014 in <a href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/positive_language/">Positive Language</a>, <a href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/teaching_business_writing/">Teaching Business Writing</a> </span> <span class="separator">|</span> <a class="permalink" href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2014/11/challenge-can-you-make-safety-sound-fun.html">Permalink</a> <span class="separator">|</span> <a class="entry-comments" href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2014/11/challenge-can-you-make-safety-sound-fun.html#comments">Comments (6)</a> <span class="separator">|</span> <a class="entry-trackbacks" href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2014/11/challenge-can-you-make-safety-sound-fun.html#trackback">TrackBack (0)</a> </p> <!-- technorati tags --> <!-- post footer links --> </div> </div> </div> <h2 class="date-header">November 18, 2014</h2> <div class="entry-category-frequently_asked_questions entry-category-grammar_and_usage entry-author-lynn_gaertnerjohnston entry-type-post entry" id="entry-6a00d8341c02a553ef01b7c7086db5970b"> <div class="entry-inner"> <h3 class="entry-header"><a href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2014/11/10-non-errors-to-stop-correcting.html">10 Non-Errors to Stop Correcting</a></h3> <div class="entry-content"> <input type="hidden" name="zemanta-related" val="" /> <div class="entry-body"> <p>Have you been correcting non-errors? Test your knowledge in the 10 items below. Only two sentences contain an error in grammar or usage. Can you recognize which two? Those two represent errors editors sometimes introduce into sentences that were originally correct. </p> <p>Do not edit for style--focus on true errors. Choose the two sentences with errors. Then compare your answers with mine. </p> <ol> <li>I feel bad about the way I handled your questions at the meeting. </li> <li>Please ask to speak with whomever is in charge of printing the programs. </li> <li>This is a historical event that children should learn about in school. </li> <li>Let's home in on the most urgent issues we are facing. </li> <li>Ranodda has offered to give Clarice and I a ride to the luncheon. </li> <li>The group is composed of two project managers and two training specialists. </li> <li>The error appears farther down the page. </li> <li>We have got to find a November date for this workshop. </li> <li>If I were Pathmasiri, I would move rather than commute so far.</li> <li>She has been teaching English for over 20 years. </li> </ol> <p><br /><strong>Note:</strong> This article appeared in last month's <em>Better Writing at Work. <a href="http://syntaxtraining.com/signup.html" target="_self" title="Subscribe here">S</a></em><a href="http://syntaxtraining.com/signup.html" target="_self" title="Subscribe here">ubscriptions </a>are free. </p> <p> </p> <p><strong>Answer Key</strong></p> <ol> <li>"Feel bad" is correct. Just as we would correctly say "feel happy" rather than "feel happily," and "feel sad" rather than "feel sadly," we correctly use "feel bad."</li> <li>This sentence contains an error. The word "whomever" should be "whoever." The reason is that the verb phrase "is in charge of" needs a subject pronoun, which is "whoever." Some people would incorrectly choose "whomever" (and mistakenly correct others) because it follows the preposition "with." However, the entire clause "whoever is in charge of printing the programs" is the object of that preposition.</li> <li>"A historical" is not an error--it's correct. Some people do use "an historical" because they pronounce the word "istorical." Their use is also acceptable. It's correct to use "an" before words that begin with a vowel sound.</li> <li>"Home in" is correct. Many people use "hone in" because they have grown up using it; however, careful writers use "home in," and experts recommend it.</li> <li>The use of "Clarice and I" is wrong. The sentence requires the object pronoun "me." You can recognize the correct pronoun by removing Clarice from the situation: "Ranodda has offered to give me a ride to the luncheon." Do not correct the object pronoun "me" used correctly. <em><br /></em></li> <li>"Composed of" is correct. Some people would incorrectly change it to "comprised of," but "comprise" means "contain" or "include." If you prefer using "comprise" in your own writing, you can restructure the sentence this way: "The group comprises two project managers and two training specialists." Do not "correct" other people's use of "composed of."</li> <li>This sentence includes a correct use of "farther," which involves actual distance. "Further" is appropriate for figurative distances, such as "Let's take this discussion further." Most people would also accept "further" in the example. </li> <li>The use of "have got" is correct in this sentence. Changing it to "have" rather than "have got" would lessen the emphasis of the statement. Both "have got" and "have gotten" are correct as past participle forms of "get." Both forms have their places.</li> <li>"If I were" is correct in this sentence. It is the subjunctive form of the verb. Careful writers use the subjunctive form to indicate wishes ("I wish I were") and things that are contrary to fact ("if she were your mother").</li> <li>"Over" is correct as a synonym for "more than." There is no reason to change "over" unless it is for word variety. </li> </ol> <p><br />Surprised? Confused? How did you do? You can get more information in a current dictionary or style guide. The <a href="http://www.syntaxtraining.com/recommended_books.html#reference_manuals" target="_self" title="Visit Lynn's website">style guides I recommend</a> appear on my website.</p> <p>If you would like to improve your proofreading skills, take <a href="http://syntaxtraining.com/PDF/Proofreading_Like_a_Pro_Feb_11_2015.pdf" target="_self" title="Learn about the class">Proofreading Like a Pro</a> on February 11. </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 18, 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> </span> <span class="separator">|</span> <a class="permalink" href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2014/11/10-non-errors-to-stop-correcting.html">Permalink</a> <span class="separator">|</span> <a class="entry-comments" href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2014/11/10-non-errors-to-stop-correcting.html#comments">Comments (14)</a> <span class="separator">|</span> <a class="entry-trackbacks" href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2014/11/10-non-errors-to-stop-correcting.html#trackback">TrackBack (0)</a> </p> <!-- technorati tags --> <!-- post footer links --> </div> </div> </div> <h2 class="date-header">November 13, 2014</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-6a00d8341c02a553ef01b7c7059498970b"> <div class="entry-inner"> <h3 class="entry-header"><a href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2014/11/shift-in-thoughts-change-paragraphs-.html">Shift in Thoughts? Change Paragraphs.</a></h3> <div class="entry-content"> <input type="hidden" name="zemanta-related" val="" /> <div class="entry-body"> <p>Several times a day I receive an email that lists reporters' requests for sources. It's called the HARO, Help a Reporter Out. Business owners like me receive the HARO to find ways to get publicity. </p> <p>At the start of each HARO email is a paragraph promoting a product or service. I rarely read the promo because it's one huge paragraph. I avoid the intimidating block of text and move on to the short chunks of text beneath it. </p> <p>Below is one of this week's HARO opening paragraphs, a 186-word wall. How would you break it into shorter chunks of text? Here's an easy rule to follow: Shift in thoughts? Change paragraphs. </p> <p>********************</p> <p>Are you looking for a new strategy to earn publicity for your product or client? The team at PTPA Media are your people! From influencer programs to the top trending Twitter parties, they have a community of over 100,000 families who are just waiting to hear about your product or service! Over the past year they were featured on T<em>he Steve Harvey Show, Ricki Lake, HLN, Marie Osmond,</em> and <em>EXTRA!</em> Do you have a product that you would love to get in front of moms? Now is the time to get it tested by PTPA! Their awards program is the most recognized across North America! Even better? PTPA Media has over 1,000 bloggers in their network who write for them. These guys have the credibility and the connections. HARO members, submit your application form before December 31 and you'll receive a $200 discount on premium submissions using the coupon code "____." Go to <a href="http://bit.ly/NJpkb6">http://bit.ly/NJpkb6</a> to set up your profile, or click here (<a href="http://ptpamedia.uberflip.com/t/151114">http://ptpamedia.uberflip.com/t/151114</a>) to download their media kit. Get going! It's not often you come across a company that can do this much for your brand!</p> <p>********************</p> <p>Did you notice the powerful writing? The writer grabs our attention, keeps us interested, and offers steps for us to take. He or she comes on strong, positive, and focused--the coach before the big game.  </p> <p>How did you or would you break up the block to make it more accessible, less imposing? Compare your paragraph breaks with mine below. </p> <p> </p> <p>********************</p> <p>Are you looking for a new strategy to earn publicity for your product or client? The team at PTPA Media are your people! From influencer programs to the top trending Twitter parties, they have a community of over 100,000 families who are just waiting to hear about your product or service! Over the past year they were featured on T<em>he Steve Harvey Show, Ricki Lake, HLN, Marie Osmond, </em>and<em> EXTRA!</em></p> <p>Do you have a product that you would love to get in front of moms? Now is the time to get it tested by PTPA! Their awards program is the most recognized across North America! Even better? PTPA Media has over 1,000 bloggers in their network who write for them. These guys have the credibility and the connections.</p> <p>HARO members, submit your application form before December 31 and you'll receive a $200 discount on premium submissions using the coupon code "____." Go to <a href="http://bit.ly/NJpkb6">http://bit.ly/NJpkb6</a> to set up your profile, or click here (<a href="http://ptpamedia.uberflip.com/t/151114">http://ptpamedia.uberflip.com/t/151114</a>) to download their media kit.</p> <p>Get going! It's not often you come across a company that can do this much for your brand!</p> <p>********************</p> <p>You want your audience to pay attention to your writing, so don't build walls of text that turn readers away. Shift in topics? Change paragraphs. </p> <p>Was your revised version the same as mine? Feel free to share your suggestions.</p> <p>If you want to continue to tune up your writing, take my online <a href="http://syntaxtraining.com/PDF/Writing_Tune-Up_Dec_4_and_5_2014.pdf" target="_self" title="Learn more about the class and sign up">Writer's Tune-Up for Peak Performance</a> on Dec. 4 and 5. </p> <p><span style="color: #0000bf;"><em>Lynn</em></span><br /><a href="Visit%20Lynn's company website" target="_self" title="http://syntaxtraining.com">Syntax Training</a></p> </div> <!-- SIGNATURE --> </div> <div class="entry-footer"> <p class="entry-footer-info"> <span class="post-footers">November 13, 2014 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/2014/11/shift-in-thoughts-change-paragraphs-.html">Permalink</a> <span class="separator">|</span> <a class="entry-comments" href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2014/11/shift-in-thoughts-change-paragraphs-.html#comments">Comments (6)</a> <span class="separator">|</span> <a class="entry-trackbacks" href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2014/11/shift-in-thoughts-change-paragraphs-.html#trackback">TrackBack (0)</a> </p> <!-- technorati tags --> <!-- post footer links --> </div> </div> </div> <h2 class="date-header">November 10, 2014</h2> <div class="entry-category-best_picks_ entry-category-books entry-author-lynn_gaertnerjohnston entry-type-post entry" id="entry-6a00d8341c02a553ef01b7c704256b970b"> <div class="entry-inner"> <h3 class="entry-header"><a href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2014/11/book-review-everybody-needs-this-book.html">Book Review: Everybody Needs This Book</a></h3> <div class="entry-content"> <input type="hidden" name="zemanta-related" val="" /> <div class="entry-body"> <p>Do you write on the job? If yes, you need Ann Handley's <em>Everybody Writes: Your Go-To Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Content.</em> It’s the best book on creative business communication I have read since Chip and Dan Heath's <em>Made to Stick</em>.</p> <p>As Handley writes, "If you have a website, you are a publisher. If you are on social media, you are in marketing. . . . We are all writers." Yes, we are. Even if you don't have a website and don't tweet or blog for your company, you can't sit out the game. Your proposals, recommendations, resumes, presentations--even trip reports and program updates--all have to communicate well to win.  </p> <p><em>Everybody Writes </em>serves as a model of how to communicate valuable information in crisp, satisfying chunks. A dazzling 74 chapters live up to the promise of their power-packed chapter titles, helping you learn (or relearn) ways to: </p> <ul> <li>"Shed High School Rules" </li> <li>"Embrace the Ugly First Draft"</li> <li>"Swap Places With Your Reader"</li> <li>"'Cross Out the Wrong Words'"(with a nod to Mark Twain) </li> <li>"Show, Don't Tell" </li> <li>"Keep It Simple--but Not Simplistic" </li> <li>"Be Rabid About Readability"</li> <li>"Ditch Weakling Verbs"</li> <li>"Tell the Truth" </li> </ul> <p>Amen. </p> <p>Writing is not an art, according to Handley, an authority on writing and marketing. In her view, “Writing well is part habit, part knowledge of some fundamental rules, and part giving a damn." She helps writers with all three parts.</p> <p>To develop better habits, she offers Part I, "Writing Rules: How to Write Better (and How to Hate Writing Less)." Her chapter "Follow a Writing GPS" lays out steps to help you arrive at your final draft. After setting your virtual GPS to your writing goal, follow these directions (Handley provides landmarks and helpful tips along the way):</p> <ol> <li>"Reframe: put your reader into it."</li> <li>"Seek out data and examples." </li> <li>"Organize." </li> <li>"Write to one person." </li> <li>"Produce The Ugly First Draft." (Handley also calls this step "Show up and throw up," which makes the point while making me wince.) </li> <li>"Walk away."</li> <li>"Rewrite." </li> <li>"Give it a great headline or title." </li> <li>"Have someone edit." </li> <li>"[Take] One final look for readability." </li> <li>"Publish, but not without answering one more reader question: what now?"</li> </ol> <p>For that last step, Handley elaborates: "Don't leave your readers just standing awkwardly in the middle of the dance floor after the music stops. What do you want them to do next?" </p> <p>Other parts of <em>Everybody Writes </em>cover the fundamental rules of grammar, usage, storytelling, publishing, and journalism including sourcing, interviewing, and curating content.</p> <p>Here are a few Handley quotes I will remember and use in business writing classes (with attribution, of course): </p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">"White space is a prerequisite, not a luxury." </p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">For a writer seeking a client's or manager's approval: "Seek an OK, not opinions. <em>Please approve </em>is likely to deliver far fewer edits than will <em>please tell me if you have suggestions." </em></p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">"The longer the . . .  sentence . . .  the longer the brain has to postpone comprehending ideas until it can reach a point where all of the words, together, make sense." </p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">"What would your content look like if your customer [not your boss] signed your paycheck? It's up to you to advocate for this point of view." </p> <p>A huge gift to writers is Handley's Part V, "13 Things Marketers Write," which advises on writing for Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, including LinkedIn profiles. It covers writing email, landing pages, home pages, About Us pages, headlines, blog posts, and more. </p> <p>Part VI, "Content Tools," is a 21st-century writer's e-toolbox, brimming with organizing tools such as Evernote and OneNote, writing tools like Scrivener and Draft, productivity apps such as Write or Die and WriteRoom, and editing tools and apps including Grammarly, Hemingway, and 13 others. </p> <p><em>Everybody Writes: Your Go-To Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Content </em>is a complete writing cookbook, something to pore over and savor. I read it on a cross-country flight from Seattle to Raleigh, North Carolina, and will return to it for reminders on slicing and dicing blog topics, writing annual reports, and "newsjacking," that is, creating quick content that ties to stories in the news. </p> <p><em>Everybody Writes</em> is published by Wiley, runs 298 pages, and retails in hardcover for US$25. Buy it as an investment in yourself or as a treat for the business writers in your life. </p> <p>Note: I do not know Ann Handley (unfortunately), and my only incentive for writing this review is to tell you about a terrific resource I know you will value. </p> <p><em><span style="color: #0000bf;">Lynn</span></em><br /><a href="http://syntaxtraining.com" target="_self" title="Visit Lynn's website">Syntax Training</a></p> <p>If you want tips, strategies, and individual feedback to improve your business writing, take my <a href="http://syntaxtraining.com/PDF/Writing_Tune-Up_Dec_4_and_5_2014.pdf" target="_self" title="Get answers to your questions, and register.">Writing Tune-Up for Peak Performance</a> live online class. You attend on December 4 and 5 at 10 a.m. Pacific Standard Time. </p> <p> </p> </div> <!-- SIGNATURE --> </div> <div class="entry-footer"> <p class="entry-footer-info"> <span class="post-footers">November 10, 2014 in <a href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/best_picks/">Best Picks </a>, <a href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/books/">Books</a> </span> <span class="separator">|</span> <a class="permalink" href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2014/11/book-review-everybody-needs-this-book.html">Permalink</a> <span class="separator">|</span> <a class="entry-comments" href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2014/11/book-review-everybody-needs-this-book.html#comments">Comments (4)</a> <span class="separator">|</span> <a class="entry-trackbacks" href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2014/11/book-review-everybody-needs-this-book.html#trackback">TrackBack (0)</a> </p> <!-- technorati tags --> <!-- post footer links --> </div> </div> </div> <h2 class="date-header">October 31, 2014</h2> <div class="entry-category-punctuation_pointers entry-author-lynn_gaertnerjohnston entry-type-post entry" id="entry-6a00d8341c02a553ef01b7c6fe16fd970b"> <div class="entry-inner"> <h3 class="entry-header"><a href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2014/10/trick-or-treat-punctuation-.html">Trick or Treat Punctuation! </a></h3> <div class="entry-content"> <input type="hidden" name="zemanta-related" val="" /> <div class="entry-body"> <p>Nothing scary for you today--just a quick punctuation challenge.</p> <p>Which punctuation marks would you add to these two questions?</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">Who shouted, “Trick or treat”</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">Did the ghoul ask, “Where is the monster ball” <br /><br /></p> <p>Think it over before comparing your punctuation to mine below. No peeking! </p> <p><a class="asset-img-link" href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/.a/6a00d8341c02a553ef01b7c6fe13d2970b-pi" style="display: inline;"><img alt="Friendly Halloween photo" border="0" class="asset asset-image at-xid-6a00d8341c02a553ef01b7c6fe13d2970b image-full img-responsive" src="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/.a/6a00d8341c02a553ef01b7c6fe13d2970b-800wi" title="Friendly Halloween photo" /></a></p> <p> </p> <p>1. Who shouted, “Trick or treat”</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;"><em>The Chicago Manual of Style </em>would punctuate this way:</p> <p style="padding-left: 60px;">Who shouted, "Trick or treat!"? </p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;"><em>The Gregg Reference Manual </em>would choose this:</p> <p style="padding-left: 60px;">Who shouted, "Trick or treat"? </p> <p>I like <em>Chicago'</em>s approach, which incorporates both the exclamation and the question. Which do you prefer? </p> <p> </p> <p>2. Both style manuals recommend:</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">Did the ghoul ask, "Where is the monster ball?" </p> <p>A double question mark (?"?) would probably be overkill, but I like the idea of it.  </p> <p>Happy Halloween!!!!!!!</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">October 31, 2014 in <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/2014/10/trick-or-treat-punctuation-.html">Permalink</a> <span class="separator">|</span> <a class="entry-comments" href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2014/10/trick-or-treat-punctuation-.html#comments">Comments (3)</a> <span class="separator">|</span> <a class="entry-trackbacks" href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2014/10/trick-or-treat-punctuation-.html#trackback">TrackBack (0)</a> </p> <!-- technorati tags --> <!-- post footer links --> </div> </div> </div> <h2 class="date-header">October 23, 2014</h2> <div class="entry-category-teaching_business_writing entry-category-writing_tips entry-author-lynn_gaertnerjohnston entry-type-post entry" id="entry-6a00d8341c02a553ef01b8d082bdfe970c"> <div class="entry-inner"> <h3 class="entry-header"><a href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2014/10/would-you-fix-this-systems-failure-.html">Would You Fix This Systems Failure? </a></h3> <div class="entry-content"> <input type="hidden" name="zemanta-related" val="" /> <div class="entry-body"> <p>I was waiting at Baggage Carousel 1 at Raleigh-Durham International Airport, when a man in a vest told the crowd of us to move to Carousel 2. We eyed him suspiciously. After all, the electronic sign said the luggage from Chicago would arrive at Carousel 1. Who was more believable, the official or the official-looking sign? </p> <p>He repeatedly barked that we should move to Carousel 2. But Carousel 2 was dead, luggage was pouring into Carousel 1, and the electronic sign continued to tell us Carousel 1 was a winner for us. </p> <p>In frustration, the man yelled, "If you came from Chicago, move to Carousel 2!" and most of our herd reluctantly moved toward the empty carousel. </p> <p>I gently said to our vested friend, "It would probably be helpful if the sign said the same thing you are saying." </p> <p>"This happens all the time!" he responded. "I can't fix the sign! That's the airport." </p> <p>What we have here is a system failure. </p> <p>If it "happens all the time," why hasn't someone fixed the system? Why do weary travelers regularly have to be prodded to move, when a sign tells them to stay put? </p> <p>How do your systems frustrate your customers, readers, and yourself? </p> <ul> <li>If customers repeatedly complain that they were unaware of a charge, find out where your communication breaks down. </li> <li>If email readers do not respond to your questions, examine how you are asking. How can you write differently? </li> <li>If you continually rewrite an employee's work, stop! (Unless you want to do the employee's job <strong>and</strong> your own.) Analyze the problem (a lack of training, awareness, or discipline?), and help the employee solve it. </li> </ul> <p>When you have systems that regularly fail someone, compare the resources (time, energy, etc.) it would take to fix the problem with the resources, good will, and confidence drained day after day by the failure.</p> <p>The airline official was correct, of course: Our long-awaited bags spilled from Carousel 2 like kids bursting out the school door.</p> <p>Do you have systems problems that better writing would fix? </p> <p>If writing is part of the problem, take our online class <a href="http://syntaxtraining.com/PDF/Writing_Tune-Up_Dec_4_and_5_2014.pdf" target="_self" title="Learn about the class">Writing Tune-Up for Peak Performance</a> on December 4 and 5. I would love to work with you. </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">October 23, 2014 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/2014/10/would-you-fix-this-systems-failure-.html">Permalink</a> <span class="separator">|</span> <a class="entry-comments" href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2014/10/would-you-fix-this-systems-failure-.html#comments">Comments (5)</a> <span class="separator">|</span> <a class="entry-trackbacks" href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2014/10/would-you-fix-this-systems-failure-.html#trackback">TrackBack (0)</a> </p> <!-- technorati tags --> <!-- post footer links --> </div> </div> </div> <h2 class="date-header">October 15, 2014</h2> <div class="entry-category-courteous_writing entry-category-email entry-category-etiquette entry-author-lynn_gaertnerjohnston entry-type-post entry" id="entry-6a00d8341c02a553ef01b7c6f4501a970b"> <div class="entry-inner"> <h3 class="entry-header"><a href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2014/10/what-is-a-salutation-its-not-a-close-.html">What Is a Salutation? It's Not a Close! </a></h3> <div class="entry-content"> <input type="hidden" name="zemanta-related" val="" /> <div class="entry-body"> <p>People often write to me asking for help with salutations. But when I read their questions, I find that they deal with "Best regards" or "Sincerely yours." Those are complimentary closes.</p> <p>Let's look at the differences. </p> <p><strong>A salutation</strong> <strong>is a greeting</strong> we use at the beginning of an email, a letter, or a note. Even a text or an online comment can begin with a salutation.</p> <p>In a letter, salutations nearly always begin with "Dear":</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">Dear Rosalie, <br />(We use a comma after the greeting in a <em>personal</em> letter in the U.S. and Canada. In other countries the punctuation is often omitted.)</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">Dear Dr. Gomez: <br />(We use a colon after the greeting in a <em>business</em> letter in the U.S. and Canada. Other countries often leave it out.)</p> <p>Salutations in emails can begin with "Dear" if the message is formal. Otherwise, they are more likely to be one of these:</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">Hi Jeff,</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">Hello Professor,</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">Hello to all,</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">Greetings, everybody!</p> <p>A comma normally sets off an individual's name in direct address (for example, "Thank you, Margo"), but most people leave it out these days in greetings. (I am trying hard to let go of that comma, but I still write things like "Hello, John.")</p> <p><strong>A complimentary close or closing</strong> is a polite ending to a message. In letters, these are common closes:</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">Best regards, (We use the comma in the U.S. and Canada; other countries may leave it out.)</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">Regards,</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">Sincerely,</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">Best wishes,</p> <p>A complimentary close is not a must in email, but it warms up the end of the message. People usually end an email with a complimentary close if they open it with a greeting. Examples:</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">Regards, </p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">All the best,</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">Cheers,</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">Thanks, </p> <p>As a traditionalist, I like to use "Thanks" sincerely in a sentence ending with a period. Example: "Thanks again for helping me finish this project." But "Thanks" alone has become a popular close. </p> <p>Maybe the expression "greetings and salutations" has led people to believe that the greeting starts a message and the salutation ends it. But that just isn't so. </p> <p>Do you have questions about salutations or closes? Just type your search phrase in the box at top right. I have covered salutations for married couples, doctors, etc., along with complimentary closes for all kinds of situations. </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> <p>P.S. For ways to build relationships in business messages, get my book <em><a href="http://syntaxtraining.com/heart.html" target="_self" title="Learn more about Lynn's book">Business Writing With Heart: How to Build Great Work Relationships One Message at a Time</a>. </em>It covers salutations, closes, and a whole lot more.</p> </div> <!-- SIGNATURE --> </div> <div class="entry-footer"> <p class="entry-footer-info"> <span class="post-footers">October 15, 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/2014/10/what-is-a-salutation-its-not-a-close-.html">Permalink</a> <span class="separator">|</span> <a class="entry-comments" href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2014/10/what-is-a-salutation-its-not-a-close-.html#comments">Comments (7)</a> <span class="separator">|</span> <a class="entry-trackbacks" href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2014/10/what-is-a-salutation-its-not-a-close-.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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