I've been involved in business writing long enough to remember when a "cc" was actually a carbon copy. I remember the messy blue of the carbon paper showing up on snowy white objects such as a new blouse or crisp business envelopes. I even remember mimeograph machines. Do you?...
One of the most common questions in any of our classes is this:When is the phrase follow up hyphenated? One of the reasons this punctuation question is so commonly asked is that many dictionaries are no help at all. They simply list both versions: follow-up and follow up. I...
This week my 11-year-old daughter had an assignment on writing numbers. One of the rules on her assignment sheet stated, "Numbers that are expressed in fewer than four words are spelled out." That rule sounded like trouble to me. After all, do we really want to write seventeen thousand...
The other day I was talking with a man named Scott, who asked me whether I agreed with a tip he had picked up in a presentation on writing email. The presenter had said that one should never write to a group--only to individuals--because that is the only way...
"I would feel bad if I treated you badly." That's an illustration of the correct use of the words bad and badly. Bad/badly is a grammar point that trips up many of us. Even people who are very careful about their speech and writing are confused about those two words....
According to an October 2005 Yahoo publication, 96% of Internet users have never knowingly used RSS (Real Simple Syndication). Are you one of them? I was until today. Yes, I confess that I've been blogging since last June, but I just downloaded an RSS reader so that I can...
The semicolon leads a hard life: ignored by most, scorned by others, misunderstood by many. Who can blame it if it creates trouble for some of us? I'm here to defend the semicolon as a useful member of the family of punctuation marks. I'm also here to answer the...
UPDATED 24 AUGUST 2021 Many people visit this site in search of answers to their etiquette questions. One popular query is "How do I end a letter?" Another is "Is best regards acceptable?" The Complimentary Close It's the "complimentary close" or "complimentary closing" that business writers are wondering about, those phrases that...
UPDATED IN DECEMBER 2016 Dear Reader:   Dear Reader,   Dear Ms. Reader: Dear Mr. and Mrs. Reader:   Hi Reader,   Reader, This post is all about the etiquette of salutations (greetings) for business letters and email. It's dedicated to the many who have visited this blog in search of tips on how to...
In business writing classes, people often ask about the difference between that and which. Where should each word be used? What's the difference between them? It can be a tricky question, and I don't look forward to talking about it in classes. That's because the distinction between that and which...