Please--don't do it. Don't use apostrophes to make expressions plural, like this: This photo of a plumbing supply company storefront is NOT for a company owned by people named Spa and Pool. If it were, Spa's & Pool's might be the perfect sign.  Spas & Pools--that's what the sign should say.  Google...
In the past week, two clients have written to ask whether they should refer to their company or division using the singular it or a plural pronoun. Below are their examples, slightly disguised. The underlining indicates the pronoun they doubted. Company X wishes to express our sincere appreciation for Company Y’s...
UPDATED IN JANUARY 2019 Do you know the difference between a dash and a hyphen? Do you recognize where to use en dashes and em dashes? If you do, then pass this post on to someone else. Or read it to be sure of your knowledge. In business writing classes, people regularly...
In a recent Punctuation for Professionals online class, an attendee said she had learned this rule: to always use a comma before because.  That "rule" makes no sense. We need a comma before because only rarely. Most commas before because appear for another reason having nothing to do with the word because. Examples: We chose Monday, July 6,...
Do you take too long revising emails, reports, and other communications? This post shares three ways to cut your rewrite time. They cover planning, writing, and adjusting your standards.  1. Make a simple plan and follow it. Diving in without a plan may give you a rush of accomplishment. But eventually...
A reader named Michelle sent me an excellent capitalization challenge. She received a brief article (indented below) to publish in a magazine, and she wants to follow standard capitalization rules.  Which categories of capitalization would you change in Michelle's example? Would you change job titles, divisions, or anything else? (I...
At lunch today I read the following sentence in an advertising supplement in The New York Times: Our wine team is comprised of devoted wine lovers who are some of the most respected professionals in the industry.  Your test: Is the phrase "comprised of" correct, or should "composed of" replace it? Why?  The...
In my work as a business writing teacher, I read samples of writing from managers and employees at all levels around the country and the globe. In 2014 I repeatedly saw three errors. Two of them are punctuation mistakes; one falls into the grammar pot. Can you find the top...
This month I worked with a team of people who often write letters to the public. Their letters include a variety of helpful details.  When you have a lot of information to communicate in a letter, do you use traditional paragraphs only? Or do you add headings, bullet points, and...
In a Business Writing Tune-Up class, an attendee wrote what he wanted to get from the class: "My most time-consuming task is developing a good opening sentence. Any tips on that?"    Yes! The first sentence can be the trickiest one to write--not just for novelists and essayists, but for business writers...