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Some Dos About Don’ts

I like the don'ts included on a package of gel "window clings," that is, window decorations, I have had on my office window during the holidays. The don'ts below are taken directly from the GelGems window clings package:

  • Don't give GelGems to children under 4 — they're a choking hazard.
  • Don't expose GelGems to temperatures above 120°F – they'll get gooey.
  • Don't stick GelGems on drywall, or other porous surfaces — they will leave oily marks. Test your surface!
  • Don't eat GelGems — they're not toxic, but they don't taste good.
  • Don't let your GelGems touch each other — they will bleed color onto each other.

The GelGems writer did a fine job of following a few dos about don'ts:

  • Do start each don't with the word don't. Without that word, the don'ts will appear to be dos.
  • Do use simple language such as "Don't eat GelGems." Complex language will get in the way of the message. 
  • Do briefly state the reason for the don't. "They're a choking hazard" and "they'll get gooey" are simple yet sufficient.
  • Do limit the number of don'ts. Seven to nine don'ts is a good maximum number.

It's time for me to remove my holiday decorations and get back to work. I will be sure to follow the excellent GelGems don'ts–no eating the decorations or letting them touch!

Do enjoy the start of the new year. I wish you a wonderful 2011.

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.

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