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...
Have you been correcting non-errors? Test your knowledge in the 10 items below. Only two sentences contain an error in grammar or usage. Can you recognize which two? Those two represent errors editors sometimes introduce into sentences that were originally correct.  Do not edit for style--focus on true errors. Choose...
In a recent business writing course, a participant insisted that single quotation marks be used around quoted content and titles of works. He was certain that I was wrong when I told him that double quotation marks are the standard. Was I wrong? It depends where we were standing. In the United States...
I was walking around Seattle's Sea-Tac International Airport yesterday, waiting for my flight to Maui, when I admired a T-shirt with a clever slogan: Washington Rain Festival, Jan. 1st – Dec. 31st What a perfect message, since it rains in Western Washington nearly all the time. Despite the truthfulness of the sentiment and...
This past weekend my blog was down, and I only found out because a loyal reader named Lori let me know. Lori and I exchanged several messages about the blog and the cause of the problem. My final message to Lori included this sentence: I appreciate you letting me know about...