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A Plodding Phrase About Promptness

To inspire their readers to quick action, many writers use this sluggish phrase:

in a timely manner

For example, "Please contact these clients in a timely manner."

But "in a timely manner" is 15 letters, 6 syllables, 4 words. That’s way too long and plodding to inspire promptness. No, it’s not as bad as the vague, laboring "at your earliest convenience." But it plods along just ahead of it.

If you are a lover of "in a timely manner," notice how these alternatives stack up to your favored phrase:

on time
at once
in a jiffy
right away
straight away
in a timely manner

Why not try one of them . . . soon?

Syntax Training

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By Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston has helped thousands of employees and managers improve their business writing skills and confidence through her company, Syntax Training. In her corporate training career of more than 20 years, she has worked with executives, engineers, scientists, sales staff, and many other professionals, helping them get their messages across with clarity and tact.

A gifted teacher, Lynn has led writing classes at more than 100 companies and organizations such as MasterCard, Microsoft, Boeing, Nintendo, REI, AARP, Ledcor, and Kaiser Permanente. Near her home in Seattle, Washington, she has taught managerial communications in the MBA programs of the University of Washington and UW Bothell. She has created a communications course, Business Writing That Builds Relationships, and provides the curriculum at no cost to college instructors.

A recognized expert in business writing etiquette, Lynn has been quoted in "The Wall Street Journal," "The Atlantic," "Vanity Fair," and other media.

Lynn sharpened her business writing skills at the University of Notre Dame, where she earned a master's degree in communication, and at Bradley University, with a bachelor's degree in English.