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Frequently Asked Questions

The other day a friend told me he was concerned about having taken on a copy editing job because he didn't yet feel confident of who/whom and whoever/whomever. How about you? Are you confident about where to use those pronouns? Take the test below to see whether your confidence or...
When a newspaper makes the mistake on the front page of the sports section, you know an error has spread. The writer, copyeditor, and proofreader all missed it. Can you recognize it?  When I saw that error in a Seattle TImes headline, I cringed, but I wasn't surprised. Just a...
While you have been busy working, some of the rules of writing evolved, and the University of Chicago Press released a new Chicago Manual of Style. Take a look at the changes below to determine which ones you need to adopt. Then update your company style guide to be...
I visited beautiful Whistler, British Columbia, last week and loved everything about it--except perhaps for its free-spirited use and avoidance of apostrophes. Its businesses' signs kept my writing teacher's mind spinning. Here's a challenge for you: See if you can determine which of the signs are punctuated according to current...
People who want to be technical writers often ask me whether business writing classes will help them. I answer yes—because strong business writing skills will help them be better technical writers. But what is the difference between technical writing and business writing? I asked Julie Hale, a technical writer in the...
In a recent business writing class, a participant confessed that she didn't know a pronoun from a preposition--and she wanted to learn the difference. Why? So she could feel confident about using language correctly. Knowing the parts of speech can help you: Recognize which words to capitalize in a title and after a greeting. Know...
Over the 10+ years of writing this business writing blog, I've been consistent about virtually all my style, punctuation, and grammar choices. But there's one comma rule I've flip-flopped on:  my husband Michael my husband, Michael,  I have just one husband. His name is Michael. In a sentence should I surround his name with...
Secretary Clinton and Senator Sanders have differences. But according to the editors at The New York Times, one of them is not the way their names are made possessive. The Times forms the possessive the same way for both of them.  Times example: But in the end, Mr. Sanders's populist economic message proved no match for...
My friend John has a graceful, sophisticated writing style in which paragraph follows elegant paragraph. John wants to change his style so that it takes him less time to communicate in letters, emails, and other pieces. He also wants his writing to be faster to read. To help John (and...
When you cut words to make your business writing more concise, be sure to keep the prepositions you need. Some prepositions bring structure and clarity to your sentences. Learn which ones below.  A client wrote to me asking whether he needed to use the prepositions in these sentences: We finished on December 2,...