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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=""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">April 14, 2014</h2> <div class="entry-category-teaching_business_writing entry-category-writing_tips entry-author-lynn_gaertnerjohnston entry-type-post entry" id="entry-6a00d8341c02a553ef01a3fceefd69970b"> <h3 class="entry-header"><a href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2014/04/what-people-can-teach-wsj-and-you.html">What "People" Can Teach "WSJ" and You</a></h3> <div class="entry-content"> <input type="hidden" name="zemanta-related" val="" /> <div class="entry-body"> <p>On Friday at a dental appointment, I had a chance to read <em>People</em> magazine, something I do only when at the dentist or standing in a supermarket line. The cover featured Ellen DeGeneres, and I wanted to read her interview. Where would I find it? </p> <p>I flipped past two pages of ads, and the information I needed stood out boldly: Ellen, page 52. Easy!<a class="asset-img-link" href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/.a/6a00d8341c02a553ef01a3fceef901970b-pi" style="display: inline;"><img alt="People magazine" border="0" class="asset asset-image at-xid-6a00d8341c02a553ef01a3fceef901970b image-full img-responsive" src="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/.a/6a00d8341c02a553ef01a3fceef901970b-800wi" title="People magazine" /></a></p> <p>An hour later, home from the dentist with a rubbery mouth, I glanced at the title of a <em>Wall Street Journal </em>article online: "Justice Stevens: The Five Extra Words That Can Fix the Second Amendment." Interesting! What are those five words?</p> <p><strong>[Correction: I realized after publishing this post that I was reading <em>The Washington Post</em>--not <em>The Wall Street Journal. </em>My apologies to <em>WSJ.</em>]</strong><em><br /></em></p> <p>Unlike the <em>People </em>approach, former Justice Stevens's <em>Wall Street Journal </em>article did not quickly supply the information I sought. After scanning 1617 words of a 1785-word article, I finally found the five words: "when serving in the Militia." (Justice Stevens's revised Second Amendment would read, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms <em>when serving in the Militia</em> shall not be infringed.”)</p> <p>Granted, <em>The Wall Street Journal </em>is not <em>People, </em>and an article about the U.S. Constitution has a different weight from an interview with Ellen. Yet <em>People </em>helped me find what I wanted almost instantly, and the Stevens article made me strain to find the information. </p> <p><strong>What you can take from <em>People</em> to apply to your business writing is this: </strong>Readers want information fast. On the job, they may not have time to slog through lots of content. Recognize what they will look for and point them toward it:</p> <ul> <li>Use bolding and highlighting at the left margin, where readers are scanning. </li> <li>Include brief descriptive headings like <em>People's </em>"On the Cover." </li> <li>Write in short chunks of text. </li> <li>Insert white space between the chunks. </li> <li>Use bullets for lists or similar pieces of information. </li> </ul> <p>To tune up your business writing in two quick sessions, work with me in the online class <em><a href="http://www.syntaxtraining.com/PDF/Writing_Tune-Up_May_13_and_15_2014.pdf" target="_self" title="Learn about the class and register">Writing Tune-Up for Peak Performance</a> </em>on May 13 and 15. </p> <p>How do you help readers find information quickly--whether they are staring at their laptops, scanning their phones, or standing in line at the supermarket? Please share your ideas. </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> </div> <div class="entry-footer"> <p class="entry-footer-info"> <span class="post-footers">April 14, 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/2014/04/what-people-can-teach-wsj-and-you.html">Permalink</a> <span class="separator">|</span> <a class="entry-comments" href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2014/04/what-people-can-teach-wsj-and-you.html#comments">Comments (2)</a> <span class="separator">|</span> <a class="entry-trackbacks" href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2014/04/what-people-can-teach-wsj-and-you.html#trackback">TrackBack (0)</a> </p> <!-- technorati tags --> <!-- post footer links --> </div> </div> <h2 class="date-header">April 10, 2014</h2> <div class="entry-category-teaching_business_writing entry-category-writing_tips entry-author-lynn_gaertnerjohnston entry-type-post entry" id="entry-6a00d8341c02a553ef01a3fcec08ef970b"> <h3 class="entry-header"><a href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2014/04/how-fast-can-you-edit-.html">How Fast Can You Edit? </a></h3> <div class="entry-content"> <input type="hidden" name="zemanta-related" val="" /> <div class="entry-body"> <p>Each of the wordy phrases below can be replaced by one word. How fast can you edit them? </p> <p>Note: For some phrases such as "during the course of," you may need to imagine a sentence to help you recognize a one-word version. </p> <ol> <li>in a consistent manner                                </li> <li>most of the time                                         </li> <li>on a frequent basis                                      </li> <li>subsequent to                                              </li> <li>prior to that time                                        </li> <li>a greater number of                                    </li> <li>in a timely fashion                                      </li> <li>is of the opinion that                                  </li> <li>consensus of opinion                                  </li> <li>sum total                                                     </li> <li>is in a position to                                        </li> <li>exactly identical                                         </li> <li>refer back                                                    </li> <li>is in the process of                                      </li> <li>may possibly                                               </li> <li>during the course of                                    </li> <li>due to the fact that                                      </li> <li>at the present time                                      </li> <li>just recently                                     </li> <li>during the time that                </li> </ol> <p>Could you quickly replace the wordy phrases? Did any of them stump you?</p> <p>Recently a middle-school boy got lots of media attention when his science fair project won first place: He recommended that the U.S. government change to the Garamond font to save money by using less ink. <a href="http://www.fastcodesign.com/3028436/why-garamond-wont-save-the-government-467-million-a-year" target="_self" title="Read the article debunking the idea">His theory was debunked because of issues of font thickness.</a> However, perhaps his next project can demonstrate how the government can save ink by using fewer words. We plain language advocates will certainly support him!</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> </div> </div> <div class="entry-footer"> <p class="entry-footer-info"> <span class="post-footers">April 10, 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/2014/04/how-fast-can-you-edit-.html">Permalink</a> <span class="separator">|</span> <a class="entry-comments" href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2014/04/how-fast-can-you-edit-.html#comments">Comments (16)</a> <span class="separator">|</span> <a class="entry-trackbacks" href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2014/04/how-fast-can-you-edit-.html#trackback">TrackBack (0)</a> </p> <!-- technorati tags --> <!-- post footer links --> </div> </div> <h2 class="date-header">April 09, 2014</h2> <div class="entry-category-punctuation_pointers entry-author-lynn_gaertnerjohnston entry-type-post entry" id="entry-6a00d8341c02a553ef01a73da549b7970d"> <h3 class="entry-header"><a href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2014/04/how-to-render-long-quotations-.html">How to Render Long Quotations </a></h3> <div class="entry-content"> <input type="hidden" name="zemanta-related" val="" /> <div class="entry-body"> <p>If you have ever wondered how to set off a long quotation in a blog post, a report, an email, or another document, this blog post is for you and Laura.</p> <p>Laura, who manages her company's intranet, emailed me to ask how to render long quotations. She wrote, "We do stories each day and often need to copy text from other sites. How do I correctly punctuate long copied passages?" </p> <p>Laura's words, which I quoted above, are not long, and I chose to run them in to the surrounding text, setting off the quotation with a comma and quotation marks. That approach works well for short quotations. Note: My example uses the American English style of double quotation marks ("); the British English style uses single quotation marks ('). </p> <p>I might also have set off her words as a block quotation, like this:</p> <p>Laura wrote with this concern:</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">We do stories each day and often need to copy text from other sites. How do I correctly punctuate long copied passages?</p> <p>You can see that the block quotation is indented and has no quotation marks. It is formatted single-spaced. The quotation can be indented just on the left side or on both sides. Of course, it is easier to indent both sides in a printed document than it is online. Sometimes block quotations are also rendered in a different font. </p> <p>According to <em>The Gregg Reference Manual, a </em>less common way to handle a long quote is like this example, which includes Laura's entire message:</p> <p>"May I ask you a question? I can’t seem to find a consistent answer online.</p> <p>"I manage our intranet at work. We do stories each day and often need to copy text from other sites. How do I correctly punctuate long copied passages?" </p> <p>You noticed that the quoted material is not indented. The quotation is set off with opening quotation marks at the beginning of each paragraph, but the closing quotation mark appears only at the end of the quotation. </p> <p>I admit having combined the two approaches in the past, apparently incorrectly. When I published <em><a href="http://syntaxtraining.com/heart.html" target="_self" title="Learn about Lynn's book">Business Writing With Heart: How to Build Great Work Relationships One Message at a Time</a>, </em>my copyeditor pointed out my error.</p> <p>Somewhere I had learned to both indent and use quotation marks for a block quote. But not one of my reference manuals that discuss block quotations--not <em>The Chicago Manual of Style, </em><em>The Gregg Reference Manual, Garner's Modern American Usage,</em> or <em>Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association--</em>even mentions that approach. Because I cannot find a style guide to agree with the way I have set off quotations in the past, I will assume I learned it incorrectly. </p> <p>If you have any insight into how I learned to use quotation marks with block quotations, please share it. </p> <p>Any other questions or suggestions?  </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> </div> <div class="entry-footer"> <p class="entry-footer-info"> <span class="post-footers">April 09, 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/2014/04/how-to-render-long-quotations-.html">Permalink</a> <span class="separator">|</span> <a class="entry-comments" href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2014/04/how-to-render-long-quotations-.html#comments">Comments (4)</a> <span class="separator">|</span> <a class="entry-trackbacks" href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2014/04/how-to-render-long-quotations-.html#trackback">TrackBack (0)</a> </p> <!-- technorati tags --> <!-- post footer links --> </div> </div> <h2 class="date-header">March 30, 2014</h2> <div class="entry-category-courteous_writing entry-category-etiquette entry-author-lynn_gaertnerjohnston entry-type-post entry" id="entry-6a00d8341c02a553ef01a51192ed05970c"> <h3 class="entry-header"><a href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2014/03/good-advice-on-not-texting.html">Good Advice on Not Texting</a></h3> <div class="entry-content"> <input type="hidden" name="zemanta-related" val="" /> <div class="entry-body"> <p>Straightening my office bookshelf this weekend, I found a news clipping I had saved because of its wise words from <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/pb/carolyn-hax" target="_self">advice columnist Carolyn Hax</a>. Although she was advising a wife on texts between her and her husband, the advice applies to texts in business. She wrote:</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">And you both badly need to stop communicating by text. Texting strips away context, facial expression, voice inflection and elaboration, also known as everything human beings use to indicate their tone. It also creates false courage. You've both basically asked for a fight by using such a blunt medium to have such a delicate exchange. </p> <p>I especially liked Ms. Hax's comment on false courage. If you would not have the courage to make a statement to someone directly in conversation, do not use a text--or an email--to communicate it. The words will linger on screens long after your courage has evaporated. I have seen both personal and business relationships suffer and die because of ill-considered texts. </p> <p>Even in routine texts, I like to greet the other person and sign off in a friendly way to be sure my positive tone comes across. Although a message may be routine, the relationship is not. </p> <p>If you have advice on texting or not texting, please share it. </p> <p><em><span style="color: #0000bf;">Lynn</span></em><br /><a href="http://syntaxtraining.com/heart.html" target="_self" title="Visit Lynn's company website">Syntax Training</a></p> </div> </div> <div class="entry-footer"> <p class="entry-footer-info"> <span class="post-footers">March 30, 2014 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> </span> <span class="separator">|</span> <a class="permalink" href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2014/03/good-advice-on-not-texting.html">Permalink</a> <span class="separator">|</span> <a class="entry-comments" href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2014/03/good-advice-on-not-texting.html#comments">Comments (4)</a> <span class="separator">|</span> <a class="entry-trackbacks" href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2014/03/good-advice-on-not-texting.html#trackback">TrackBack (0)</a> </p> <!-- technorati tags --> <!-- post footer links --> </div> </div> <h2 class="date-header">March 27, 2014</h2> <div class="entry-category-courteous_writing entry-category-etiquette entry-author-lynn_gaertnerjohnston entry-type-post entry" id="entry-6a00d8341c02a553ef01a5118e9f76970c"> <h3 class="entry-header"><a href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2014/03/communicating-bad-news-malaysia-airlines-.html">Communicating Bad News: Malaysia Airlines </a></h3> <div class="entry-content"> <input type="hidden" name="zemanta-related" val="" /> <div class="entry-body"> <p>This week Malaysia Airlines sent a text message to the loved ones of passengers on the lost Flight 370. TV comedians and pundits suggested that sending a text message was insensitive in such painful circumstances.</p> <p>What do you think? Was texting insensitive? </p> <p>Here is the message Malaysia Airlines sent, according to <a href="http://www.businessinsider.com/malaysia-airlines-text-message-to-families-2014-3" target="_self">Business Insider</a>: </p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">Malaysia Airlines deeply regrets that we have to assume beyond any reasonable doubt that MH370 has been lost and that none of those on board survived. As you will hear in the next hours from Malaysia's Prime Minister, we must now accept all evidence suggests the plane went down in the Southern Indian Ocean. </p> <p>A Chinese version of the message followed the English one. </p> <p>Considering the situation, the timing, and the wording of the airline's message, I support Malaysia Airlines' decision. The only thing I might have done differently, depending on their other communications to this audience, is to add another line to the text, something like this: "We extend our sincere condolences to you on your profound loss." </p> <p>Texting is appropriate for these reasons:</p> <ul> <li>Texting was only one way the airline was using to reach people. It was also contacting them by telephone and even in person at the Beijing airport to share this news. </li> <li>It was essential to reach people directly, before they heard the prime minister's announcement.</li> <li>Because there were 239 people aboard the plane, the airline had to communicate with many people quickly. </li> <li>The airline had undoubtedly already been in contact by text with these family members and friends.</li> <li>The individuals had given the airline permission to text them. </li> </ul> <p>The airline defended its action, in part with these statements, again from <a href="http://www.businessinsider.com/malaysia-airlines-text-message-to-families-2014-3" target="_self">Business Insider</a> (bolding is apparently the airline's choice):</p> <p style="padding-left: 60px;">Respect for the families is essential at this difficult time. <strong>And it is in that spirit that we informed the majority of the families in advance of the Prime Minister's statement in person and by telephone. SMSs were used only as an additional means of communicating with the families.</strong> Those families have been at the heart of every action the company has taken since the flight disappeared on 8th March and they will continue to be so. </p> <p>To learn more about communicating bad news, please read my book, <em><a href="http://syntaxtraining.com/heart.html" target="_self" title="Learn more about the book ">Business Writing With Heart: How to Build Great Work Relationships One Message at a Time</a>, </em>which includes the chapter "Share Bad News Without Fostering Bad Feelings." </p> <p>Of course, the loved ones of those on board Flight 370 will have many bad feelings, including sadness, loss, deep pain, and the anxiety of not knowing what happened. I hold them in my thoughts and prayers. </p> <p><em><span style="color: #0000bf;">Lynn</span></em><br /><a href="http://syntaxtraining.com/heart.html" target="_self" title="Visit Lynn's company website to learn more">Syntax Training</a></p> </div> </div> <div class="entry-footer"> <p class="entry-footer-info"> <span class="post-footers">March 27, 2014 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> </span> <span class="separator">|</span> <a class="permalink" href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2014/03/communicating-bad-news-malaysia-airlines-.html">Permalink</a> <span class="separator">|</span> <a class="entry-comments" href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2014/03/communicating-bad-news-malaysia-airlines-.html#comments">Comments (4)</a> <span class="separator">|</span> <a class="entry-trackbacks" href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2014/03/communicating-bad-news-malaysia-airlines-.html#trackback">TrackBack (0)</a> </p> <!-- technorati tags --> <!-- post footer links --> </div> </div> <h2 class="date-header">March 19, 2014</h2> <div class="entry-category-punctuation_pointers entry-author-lynn_gaertnerjohnston entry-type-post entry" id="entry-6a00d8341c02a553ef01a73d94e0ca970d"> <h3 class="entry-header"><a href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2014/03/what-a-difference-a-hyphen-makes-.html">What a Difference a Hyphen Makes! </a></h3> <div class="entry-content"> <input type="hidden" name="zemanta-related" val="" /> <div class="entry-body"> <p>Before I arrived at Pasco Airport, I receive an email from National Car Rental, the company I always use for my car rentals. </p> <p>The message said, "No counter bypass: Proceed to the rental counter to pick up your vehicle keys." </p> <p>Because I so often read messages that do not include required hyphens, I supplied a hyphen in my mind. My quick-skim version of the sentence read "No-counter bypass." When I arrived in Pasco, Washington, I tried to bypass the counter and go straight to the lot for my car. </p> <p>Oops--my mistake. National really did mean "No counter bypass." I could <em>not </em>bypass the counter. I had to stop at the counter to rent a car. </p> <p>What a difference a hyphen makes! Next time I will assume that National's punctuation is correct, read the entire sentence, and do as I am told. </p> <p>Lynn<br /><a href="http://syntaxtraining.com/heart.html" target="_self" title="Visit Lynn's company website ">Syntax Training</a></p> </div> </div> <div class="entry-footer"> <p class="entry-footer-info"> <span class="post-footers">March 19, 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/2014/03/what-a-difference-a-hyphen-makes-.html">Permalink</a> <span class="separator">|</span> <a class="entry-comments" href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2014/03/what-a-difference-a-hyphen-makes-.html#comments">Comments (12)</a> <span class="separator">|</span> <a class="entry-trackbacks" href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2014/03/what-a-difference-a-hyphen-makes-.html#trackback">TrackBack (0)</a> </p> <!-- technorati tags --> <!-- post footer links --> </div> </div> <h2 class="date-header">March 11, 2014</h2> <div class="entry-category-email entry-category-etiquette entry-category-teaching_business_writing entry-author-lynn_gaertnerjohnston entry-type-post entry" id="entry-6a00d8341c02a553ef01a73d8d7819970d"> <h3 class="entry-header"><a href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2014/03/case-study-ccs-drive-freelancer-crazy.html">Case Study: Ccs Drive Freelancer Crazy</a></h3> <div class="entry-content"> <input type="hidden" name="zemanta-related" val="" /> <div class="entry-body"> <p>A blog reader wrote to me recently with an issue that drives her crazy. Please read about her situation and share your opinions and advice.</p> <p>As usual, I have disguised the situation slightly to maintain the individual’s anonymity. “Naomi” wrote:</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">A couple of my clients, both at the same organization, insist on being copied on all the emails I send. One of them requires that I send all email to both his work and personal email addresses. This is for a newsletter I have been hired to write that involves interviews within several organizations and with private individuals.</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">I find these ccs ridiculous. These clients want to be copied even when I'm just emailing someone to request a brief phone interview, a meeting they’ve approved and are not part of.</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">If I wanted this much supervision, I would not be a freelancer! And I hate the multiple-email bounce-around effect that happens when a cc'd person decides to help out or ask questions unnecessarily. I just weeded through eight emails from these two people that came in today and at least three would not have happened if it weren't for the cc'ing. </p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">What can I do? This kind of issue did not come up in my business writing classes two decades ago. </p> <p>What's your view? Is this cc'ing a good practice? Should Naomi talk with the clients about their cc habit? Should she just continue to do as requested?  </p> <p>Naomi's topic inspired the main article of the March issue of <em>Better Writing at Work. </em>I titled it "Are You Overcommunicating?" <a href="http://syntaxtraining.com/signup.html" target="_self" title="Subscribe here">Subscribe</a> for the free newsletter. </p> <p><em><span style="color: #0000bf;">Lynn</span></em><br /><a href="http:syntaxtraining.com/heart.html%20" target="_self" title="Visit Lynn's website">Syntax Training</a></p> </div> </div> <div class="entry-footer"> <p class="entry-footer-info"> <span class="post-footers">March 11, 2014 in <a href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/email/">Email</a>, <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> </span> <span class="separator">|</span> <a class="permalink" href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2014/03/case-study-ccs-drive-freelancer-crazy.html">Permalink</a> <span class="separator">|</span> <a class="entry-comments" href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2014/03/case-study-ccs-drive-freelancer-crazy.html#comments">Comments (7)</a> <span class="separator">|</span> <a class="entry-trackbacks" href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2014/03/case-study-ccs-drive-freelancer-crazy.html#trackback">TrackBack (0)</a> </p> <!-- technorati tags --> <!-- post footer links --> </div> </div> <h2 class="date-header">March 07, 2014</h2> <div class="entry-category-email entry-category-etiquette entry-author-lynn_gaertnerjohnston entry-type-post entry" id="entry-6a00d8341c02a553ef01a5117f1b33970c"> <h3 class="entry-header"><a href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2014/03/dont-email-about-cooking-the-books-.html">Don't Email About "Cooking the Books" </a></h3> <div class="entry-content"> <input type="hidden" name="zemanta-related" val="" /> <div class="entry-body"> <p>Today's <em>New York Times </em>has a front-page story "4 Accused in Law Firm Fraud Ignored a Maxim: Don't Email" that reminds us of a rule we know well: Don't put anything in writing that you would not want to see on the front page of the <em>NYT, </em>on everyone's screen, or in anyone's Twitter feed. </p> <p>According to the <em>NYT </em>story, individuals at the law firm Dewey & LeBoeuf used phrases such as "fake income," "accounting tricks, "clueless auditor," and even "cooking the books" in their emails, which are part of the New York prosecutors' 106-count indictment against the four men.</p> <p>I will not pass judgment on the case or the guilt or innocence of the men. But I will criticize their email intelligence: They should have known better!</p> <p>Do you see words and information that shouldn't be in the emails that leave your organization? I hope you can speak up against them and make a difference. </p> <p><em><span style="color: #0000bf;">Lynn</span></em><br /><a href="http://syntaxtraining.com/heart.html" target="_self" title="Visit Lynn's company website">Syntax Training</a></p> </div> </div> <div class="entry-footer"> <p class="entry-footer-info"> <span class="post-footers">March 07, 2014 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/2014/03/dont-email-about-cooking-the-books-.html">Permalink</a> <span class="separator">|</span> <a class="entry-comments" href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2014/03/dont-email-about-cooking-the-books-.html#comments">Comments (4)</a> <span class="separator">|</span> <a class="entry-trackbacks" href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2014/03/dont-email-about-cooking-the-books-.html#trackback">TrackBack (0)</a> </p> <!-- technorati tags --> <!-- post footer links --> </div> </div> <h2 class="date-header">March 04, 2014</h2> <div class="entry-category-meeting_notes_and_minutes entry-author-lynn_gaertnerjohnston entry-type-post entry" id="entry-6a00d8341c02a553ef01a3fccc9435970b"> <h3 class="entry-header"><a href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2014/03/true-false-test-on-meeting-notes.html">True-False Test on Meeting Notes</a></h3> <div class="entry-content"> <input type="hidden" name="zemanta-related" val="" /> <div class="entry-body"> <p>Do you get stuck when writing meeting notes and minutes because you don't know how much to include? Do you record everything hoping not to miss anything?</p> <p>Take this true-false test to help you consider what belongs in final meeting notes and minutes. </p> <p><strong>True or False:</strong></p> <ol> <li>Generally meeting notes should be a transcript of the meeting.</li> <li>It is usually a good idea to tell who said what in final meeting notes.</li> <li>If an attendee tells an interesting story or anecdote during the meeting, you should record it to capture the flavor of the meeting. </li> <li>If the group agrees on a course of action, you should record the decision.</li> <li>If the group agrees on action items, you should capture the actions, the individuals who will handle them, and any deadlines.</li> <li>If a presenter at the meeting shows slides, you should record the main points from the slides. </li> <li>If a presenter explains the steps in a procedure during a meeting, you should include the explanation in the meeting notes.</li> <li>If the meeting leader introduces a new employee at a meeting, you should include details of the introduction in your notes.</li> <li>If an attendee announces an event, you should capture the details of the event in the meeting notes.</li> <li>If you follow parliamentary procedure (Robert's Rules of Order), you should record both who makes a motion and who seconds it.   </li> </ol> <p>How many answers did you label as true?</p> <p>Of course, you can handle meeting notes many different ways. But my experience suggests that only two items are true. Can you figure out which two before scrolling down to read my answers?</p> <p> </p> <p> </p> <p> </p> <p>Here are answers and brief explanations:</p> <ol> <li>False. Nothing needs to be recorded word for word except motions. </li> <li>False. With few exceptions, who said what should not be included.</li> <li>False. The note taker's job is not to capture the flavor of the meeting. It is to capture what happened.</li> <li>True. Decisions belong in meeting notes.</li> <li>True. Agreed upon actions belong in meeting notes, with due dates and persons responsible. </li> <li>False. If slide content would be useful to those reading the notes, attach the slides or provide a link to them.</li> <li>False. The steps in a procedure should be included in a procedure manual, not in meeting notes.</li> <li>False. Only the fact that the introduction took place belongs in the notes.</li> <li>False. The event details should be shared through email, a web calendar, etc., not in meeting notes.</li> <li>False. Only the name of the person making a motion belongs in minutes, according to Robert's Rules of Order.</li> </ol> <p>My answers follow the philosophy that meeting minutes should tell what <em>happened</em>--not what was said.</p> <p>Which of my answers agree with yours? Feel free to share your views.</p> <p>Next Thursday, March 13, I will lead an online Meeting Notes Made Easy class that includes discussion, examples, templates, and even a practice meeting. <a href="http://www.syntaxtraining.com/PDF/Meeting_Notes_Made_Easy_March_13_2014.pdf" target="_self" title="Read the flyer about the class">Find out more in this PDF flyer</a>. If you attend, you will gain a greater understanding of what belongs in meeting notes and how to capture it.</p> <p>You can always learn about our upcoming business writing classes by visiting our <a href="http://syntaxtraining.com/upcomingclasses.html" target="_self" title="Learn about upcoming business writing classes">Upcoming Classes </a>web page.</p> <p><em><span style="color: #0000bf;">Lynn</span></em><br /><a href="http://syntaxtraining.com/upcomingclasses.html" target="_self" title="Learn about upcoming classes">Syntax Training </a></p> <p> </p> </div> </div> <div class="entry-footer"> <p class="entry-footer-info"> <span class="post-footers">March 04, 2014 in <a href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/meeting-notes-and-minutes/">Meeting Notes and Minutes</a> </span> <span class="separator">|</span> <a class="permalink" href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2014/03/true-false-test-on-meeting-notes.html">Permalink</a> <span class="separator">|</span> <a class="entry-comments" href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2014/03/true-false-test-on-meeting-notes.html#comments">Comments (4)</a> <span class="separator">|</span> <a class="entry-trackbacks" href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2014/03/true-false-test-on-meeting-notes.html#trackback">TrackBack (0)</a> </p> <!-- technorati tags --> <!-- post footer links --> </div> </div> <h2 class="date-header">February 20, 2014</h2> <div class="entry-category-email entry-category-proofreading entry-category-punctuation_pointers entry-category-teaching_business_writing entry-author-lynn_gaertnerjohnston entry-type-post entry" id="entry-6a00d8341c02a553ef01a51171ea08970c"> <h3 class="entry-header"><a href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2014/02/would-you-work-for-this-person-.html">Would You Work for This Person? </a></h3> <div class="entry-content"> <input type="hidden" name="zemanta-related" val="" /> <div class="entry-body"> <p>A friend of mine received an invitation to interview at a company. She was interested in the opportunity until she received the error-filled message below from the training manager. I have changed details to protect the guilty.</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">Thank you for your interested in our Training Design Specialist Position. We would like you to come to the office for a short interview as a first step in our interviewing process. We would like you to bring in two samples of a work product that your produced. The topic should be on an area where you had to use a subject matter expert to learn the content. You then needed create a curriculum and related materials. It should be adult learning; face to face and non-academic in nature. </p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">We would like to review your samples and then have a short interview. You will be meeting with John Baskins and myself. You should plan for 30 to 45 minutes.</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">If possible, would you be available next Wednesday; Feb 19<sup>th</sup> at 11. The next window that we have available would be the morning of Wednesday; Feb 26<sup>th</sup>. </p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">Let me know if you have any questions. Look forward to hearing from you.</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">Penelope</p> <p>Would you work for Penelope, whose writing was riddled with about ten errors (depending on how you count them)? Granted, she included all the necessary information, and her tone was professional.</p> <p>The message turned off my friend, who already has a job but was interested in exploring options. She decided to decline the interview.</p> <p>Below is a corrected version of the message, so you can be sure you noted all the errors. Some of the errors were more glaring than others, but they were still errors.</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">Thank you for your <strong>interest</strong> in our Training Design Specialist <strong>position</strong>. We would like you to come to the office for a short interview as a first step in our interviewing process. We would like you to bring in two samples of a work product that <strong>you</strong> produced. The topic should be on an area where you had to use a subject matter expert to learn the content. You then needed <strong>to</strong> create a curriculum and related materials. It should be adult learning<strong>,</strong> face to face and <strong>nonacademic</strong> in nature. </p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">We would like to review your samples and then have a short interview. You will be meeting with John Baskins and <strong>me</strong>. You should plan for 30 to 45 minutes.</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">If possible, would you be available next Wednesday<strong>, Feb. 19,</strong> at 11<strong>?</strong> The next window that we have available would be the morning of Wednesday<strong>, Feb. 26</strong>. </p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">Let me know if you have any questions.<strong> I</strong> [more professional] look forward to hearing from you.</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">Penelope</p> <p>What is your reaction to this message? Is my friend too fussy, or does she recognize a lack of professionalism when she sees it?</p> <p><em><span style="color: #0000bf;">Lynn</span></em><br /><a href="http://syntaxtraining.com/heart.html" target="_self" title="Learn about Lynn's new book">Syntax Training</a></p> </div> </div> <div class="entry-footer"> <p class="entry-footer-info"> <span class="post-footers">February 20, 2014 in <a href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/email/">Email</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>, <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/2014/02/would-you-work-for-this-person-.html">Permalink</a> <span class="separator">|</span> <a class="entry-comments" href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2014/02/would-you-work-for-this-person-.html#comments">Comments (14)</a> <span class="separator">|</span> <a class="entry-trackbacks" href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2014/02/would-you-work-for-this-person-.html#trackback">TrackBack (0)</a> </p> <!-- technorati tags --> <!-- post footer links --> </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 --> <div class="ctr"><a href="http://syntaxtraining.com/heart.html"><img src="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/.a/6a00d8341c02a553ef01a3fa91deac970b-pi" alt="Business Writing with Heart - How to Build Great Work Relationships One Message at a Time" width="146" height="220" style="border:1px #333 solid;" title="Learn about Lynn's new book"/></a></div> <!-- 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="//www.facebook.com/plugins/likebox.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fsyntaxtraining&width=170&height=290&colorscheme=light&show_faces=true&header=true&stream=false&show_border=true&appId=649758471713658" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" style="border:none; overflow:hidden; width:170px; height:290px;" 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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