Last week I met with my friend Ira, who is a senior vice president of human resources. We talked about business writing and about the errors that fill email. Here's one of Ira's thoughts: We put our name on what we are proud of. Is that why people are comfortable...
Yesterday I got a friendly telephone call from a stranger: Collette Gillian of Salt Lake City, Utah, USA. Being a copywriter and a lover of the English language, Collette likes to see English written correctly.  Collette phoned to inform us that a page on our website said we have...
In our business writing classes, people often want an answer to this burning question: Is it acceptable to begin a sentence with the word and or but? The answer is yes. It is perfectly acceptable to start sentences with the conjunctions and and but. However, it is slightly informal. If formality...
I just found excellent validation for spelling mistakes and typos. When I checked my blog statistics to see which search strings had brought people to this site, I noticed that someone visited tonight looking for a "solitication letter." How had that brought the searcher to me? After all, I...
How many spaces should be included after end punctuation such as a period (full stop), exclamation point, and question mark? One. It's true. Believe me. Despite what your teachers taught and typewriters required in decades past, the number of spaces after end punctuation--and after a colon--is one. Wanting to be...
As we rapidly generate documents and email, we rely more and more on Microsoft's grammar and spelling checker. But you may not be getting as much as you could from that tool. For example: Does your grammar checker catch passive-verb sentences, such as "The meter should be read"? The active-verb form...
Mistakes. Mistakes. Mistakes. We all make them, even when we think we have proofread our documents. Some mistakes are worse than others:   Written: The rent will be $200 per month.  Intended: The rent increase will be $200 per month.   Written: You have a credit of $2,500.  Intended: You have...
Never accept a grammar- and spell-check as foolproof. Last week I was once again reminded of the limits of proofreading software. In a business writing class, participants were sharing the documents they had just written, when we discovered these grammar- and spell-check misses:      "between you and I"  (change...
Question: What do "human begins" and "human beings" have in common? Answer: Spell-check accepts both of them. So in a recent post, I talked about the importance of writing as human begins. Hmmm, that could be fascinating! Perhaps on stone tablets? However, since I intended "writing as human beings," I...