In a recent Better Business Writing class an attendee wrote a sentence like this one in a letter to a customer:You may be certain that I will appraise you as soon as I receive the investigator's report.  But the reader would want to be apprised--not appraised. Be sure to...
In writing classes, participants often ask about the abbreviation i.e. They want to know how to capitalize and punctuate it. But my response goes beyond those questions. I recommend not even using it. Here is my explanation: Almost no one knows what i.e. means. I can say this because in...
This week in a Better Business Writing class, an attendee named Linda used the word purview in her writing project. Her context was similar to this:If purchasing is part of your purview, please note these changes. One of the other attendees asked, "What's a purview?" A few other people,...
Every so often I hear the expression "lean and mean" applied to United States industries. This week I heard it again, in an ASTD webcast called "Closing the Skills Gap," which focused on the challenge of filling U.S. jobs that require certain skills. The expression was used by Stacy...
Many visitors to this site have been searching for everyday examples of mistakes in grammar, punctuation, and spelling. I have a Best Pick blog to recommend to you: Grammar Hell. In the spirit of Eats, Shoots & Leaves author Lynne Truss, Grammar Hell's creator, Jack, has been merrily and...
Lately people have been visiting this site in search of "idiot's" advice. Yesterday someone was looking for "condolences for idiots." Earlier in the week there were searches for "proofreading for idiots" and "an idiot's guide to business writing and reports." I do write about condolences, proofreading, and business writing--but not...
Are you looking for a quick way to improve your business communication in 2006? How about banishing a few stale words and phrases from your presentations and documents? Lake Superior State University, in Michigan (USA), publishes an annual Banished Word List.  Their list of words and phrases to avoid in...
Here's a test. Which forms of the word pair principal/principle fit in these examples? This dollar figure covers just interest--not interest plus ______. The ______ reason for our visit is to meet the new director. Which ______ did you follow to solve this problem? Easy? Here's the rule--that is, here's the...
In a writing class last week, a participant was surprised to learn of the existence of the word complement. Like many professionals, she had thought compliment was the only form. But often the word we want is complement. Details: Complement and complementary relate to completing. When people or things...
Minutes ago I picked up my home phone. The "caller" was a recorded message. The unheeding voice said, "We hope you are enjoying our holiday catazine you received in the mail." Catazine? Of course! It must be a combination catalog-magazine. And here I had thought it was only a...