Business Writing

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Syntax Training | Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

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December 03, 2018

Comments

Virginia Sowell

We live in a global society now so a location is extremely important. If you google First United Methodist Church you'll find lots of choices. The website will not readily show the physical location but instead, all the great things about the church. I like to include is the day along with the date, like Tuesday, January 7. Once, we hosted a Christmas open house on December 15. It was a weekend and most folks showed up on Saturday the 15th but six people came on Sunday thinking the 15th was Sunday.

Kelly

Great tips, Lynn. It's so important for us to take a step back from our writing and let someone else digest the information, to better understand how our readers / our audience will understand. It's tough as editors to let someone else critique our work sometimes. But it's a better experience for the reader in the end. I don't have any examples that I can think of right now where I experienced this, but I completely understand it! We need to help the reader with clear writing.

Stephanie

As a runner I often have a similar problem when checking out websites for road races. I run a lot of half marathons, and I also do a lot of traveling, so I am often online searching for races to run outside my local area. But race directors and website creators seem to forget that not everyone interested in running their race is from their area. They often neglect to put the city and/or state of the race on the homepage, and I sometimes have to spend much too long digging through the site to even find out where in the country the race is located!

Here’s an example I recently ran across—the Walnut Creek Half Marathon. The website is http://runwalnutcreek.com. Discovering exactly where in the United States this race can be found takes a reader on a hunt through the entirety of the website. There are many references to specific street names, but no complete addresses, clearly assuming the reader already knows the location of the race. The menu gives the hint that the race is in a city of the same name—Walnut Creek—but not even the page of the site dedicated to that city mentions the name of the state. Nor does the page about the location of packet pickup and registration, or the page about where to park on race day.

I wish every race website shared the city, state, date, and time of the race clearly on the front page of their site so that readers know those basics before deciding whether to read through for additional details.

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Hi Virginia,

Church websites are a wonderful example of a communication medium that leaves out essential information. I can imagine all the First United Methodist churches with no city given on their home pages.

When I read your comment, I checked the day of the week for January 7--it's a Monday. Don't want you to show up on a wrong day!

Thanks for your great example.

Lynn

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Thanks for stopping by, Kelly. I also like the idea of letting time pass when possible. I wrote the blog post just a few hours ago, but I would have added something if I had waited until now to publish it. I have to take my own advice!

Lynn

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Stephanie, what an excellent example! I can imagine how frustrating it must be if this happens to you regularly.

I love your recommended solution: "I wish every race website shared the city, state, date, and time of the race clearly on the front page of their site." Is there some advisory board for running that could share your suggestion widely? Maybe I can do a second blog post that focuses just on races--that might help.

Lynn

George Raymond

Related sources of irritation are websites, email signatures and business cards that omit the organisation's street address. This may keep people from showing up without an appointment, but stating the city (and state or country!) is often a great help to readers. LinkedIn profiles generally show the metropolitan area in which the person is located.

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Hi George,

I too have experienced those sources of irritation. Sometimes I will wonder where a potential client lives, but nothing informative appears in the individual's email signature. Yet knowing whether we can meet in person in the Seattle area or have to communicate online makes a big difference.

Thanks for commenting.

Lynn

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