Business Writing

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Syntax Training | Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

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January 19, 2018



I agree. Doing the minimal seems to be a growing standard in may circles these days. Being helpful doesn't cost much, in some cases just a few extra seconds. But the impact is big: it shows respect for the recipient and that they matter. Isn't that how we all want to be treated? Thanks for this post.

George Raymond

This has been mentioned before, but writers (and, less excusably, online reservation systems) often omit the day of the week when naming a future date that could involve the reader, saying for example June 21 instead of Thursday, June 21. This forces each reader to determine that June 21 is a Thursday. Similarly, I never write "tomorrow" in an email, but rather (for example) "tomorrow Tuesday".

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

JC, I agree. Being helpful on the job also shows one's efficiency.


Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

George, the day of the week is essential. Thanks for mentioning it. If I haven't done a post solely on that topic, I will.


Devon Connell

Can you offer any advice when a co-worker asks you a question and you aren't the right person, plus you have no idea who to ask? I usually advise them to research who is in the related department, but that doesn't seem like enough. Thank you for the article!


Thank you for highlighting one of my major pet peeves, both at work, and in writing. If you're called upon with a question, and you're not sure of the answer, offer to get it. Why would anyone pass up an opportunity to learn something new and, look like a winner to others in the process?

I just don't understand the rise of the "detachment principle."

Cathy Miller

#2 is huge in my book, Lynn. I've written several blog posts on how the simple acknowledgment of an email improves communication.

I also like your suggestion to provide specific "next steps" or meeting times. Typically, I add the question, "Will that work for you?" when offering a specific date and time or certain action.

Colleen Price

Great article as always! For No. 1, may I also suggest that if you are not the right person for the job but know who is: (1) when you forward the email, copy the original writer so he or she can follow up as needed, or (2) reply and provide the name/email address rather than forwarding, which allows the writer the freedom to make contact directly plus determine him/herself how much to include in the email.

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Thanks, everyone, for the great comments that came in while I was sleeping!

Devon, I think you are handling the situation correctly. If you can't easily help the reader, it doesn't make sense to add a task to your to-do list if it's not your responsibility. Sometimes just making your suggestion is all you can do.

Miri, I love your question: "Why would anyone pass up an opportunity to learn something new and look like a winner to others in the process?" Indeed.

Cathy, the email acknowledgment issue is huge. Right now I am wondering whether a client received an email I sent over a week ago, asking for input into a class. I am guessing he did, but a quick acknowledgment would have removed all doubt. I also like your "Will that work for you?" suggestion.

Colleen, I appreciate your suggestions. I should have mentioned your first point, and I may go back and add it--it's really essential. Thanks!



Wonderful article Lynn as always.
I work in the accounting field and there are a lot of follow ups on payments and invoices. Even if I have sent the same attachment multiple times. I always make sure that the receiving party has all the information they need right there in the last email I send.

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

AC, thanks for sharing that excellent practice!


Edward L

Thanks for this great article. You convey a great suggestion in your article and will help many writers. Hear at edu birdy we always try to ensure that the information we convey to our readers is complete and correct.

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston



It’s very helpful! Thanks Lynn
Could you please also advise the term “amended invoice” or “revised invoice”. I normally need to make some changes to the invoices have been issued. I’m not sure which one is correct? What’s the different between them?
Thank you

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Hello Nhu,

I believe you can use "amended" and "revised" interchangeably in your situation. I think of "amended" more as "corrected," with "revised" more as "updated." However, my dictionary sees them as synonyms.

I apologize for the delay in responding. I have been away on vacation.



It's pleasant to start a day with such a positive post. I completely agree with you that better to think how to make life easier and keep the mood positive than to ignore the customers or readers request. Thanks for recommendations.

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Thanks, Norman. I am glad you appreciated the recommendations.


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