This past week I led business writing classes for two groups, one in the insurance industry and the other in banking. In both groups the same question came up: How do you write a document for many different kinds of readers, especially if the content is complex? The insurance group's readers of the...
A blog reader asked whether to capitalize the word happy when it comes before Thanksgiving. The answer? It depends. In an exclamation, capitalize like this: Happy Thanksgiving! Happy Thanksgiving to all! In a sentence, do this: We wish you a very happy Thanksgiving.   ************************************** To learn more about holiday messages, get my book Business Writing With Heart: How to Build...
Katherine wrote for advice on rendering terms such as website, web page, email, and Internet. Well, I have just typed them the way I prefer to render them. But let's see what the experts in print prefer. Then you can make your choices based on the reference manuals you...
While making a comment on Marcia Yudkin's excellent Marketing for More forum, I realized I was not sure of the spelling of a word. I was writing a comment something like this: When a website doesn't contain an About Us page, I bail. (Or do I bale?) Do you know which...
Yesterday I led a business writing class for a group of sales managers and other sales professionals near Portland, Oregon. As in other classes, these questions came up: "What about dot dot dot? When should I use that?" The answer: Never. Well, almost never. These days business messages are filled with dot...
Over the weekend I was singing Christmas carols, when I came upon a familiar line in "Deck the Halls": "Don we now our gay apparel." Gay apparel? Yes. When the song was written, the word gay meant "joyful, happy" and "celebratory"--not homosexual. Singing "Don we now our gay apparel" gives...
I was teaching in Canada last week, and I came up against an issue that has also surfaced in U.S. business writing seminars. It has to do with that supremely formal "undersigned" person who appears at the end of letters in statements like these: If you need any additional information, please...
Kathryn from Hershey, Pennsylvania, wrote asking a question I should have answered a long time ago. Kathryn wants to know whether this punctuation is correct: Dear Ms. Gaertner-Johnston; What do you think? Is a semicolon correct after the greeting? How about a comma or a colon? The semicolon is dead wrong. It is...
UPDATED IN SEPTEMBER 2022 Pam wrote to me to settle a debate between the younger and the older employees in her office. The topic was "how to write time." Her brief question was this: 4pm or 4:00pm? My answer: Neither! Both of Pam's renderings are incorrect. She needs to insert periods and a space before...
Early one recent morning I got a phone call from someone whose name, let's say, was Adam. Adam called because he and a coworker were having a disagreement about whether paragraphs should be indented in email. I said, "No, paragraphs are not indented in email. You can indent bullet points,...