In my business writing classes, I see a lot of very good work: beautifully written sentences, attractive formats, positive language, well-organized information, flawless punctuation. Nevertheless, when we sit together in small groups to discuss participants' drafts, the reaction of readers isn't always what writers had anticipated, when they hear...
A business associate wrote to me today about a disagreement she is having with a colleague. He believes that his extensive vocabulary (with words such as erroneous and ameliorate), complex sentence structures, folksy cliches, and rambling style make his business writing more interesting. She disagrees. Whose side do you...
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...
Last week I received a detailed, well-written email from a new client. She had laid out a series of questions for me about an upcoming workshop. I responded to each question within the body of her original email. That way, she would instantly know which question I was answering....
Don't despair that your teenage son's vocabulary seems limited to Uh huh, Sweet! and 'sup (for "What's up?"). And don't fret that smiley faces have replaced perfectly fine words in email. The English language is still breathing and evolving. Consider these new words and expressions, made legitimate by their...
Our local business journal ran a headline in its online version this week: "Home sales last month were august." At first, I thought I had stumbled on a typo. Reading the first sentence, I was certain I had: "Western Washington home sales and prices continued to soar in August,...
Yesterday a client wrote me with an interesting writing problem. In her job, "Jean" has to respond to customers who claim that the client's building materials did not live up to the guarantee. Jean sends an inspector to investigate the claim, and she uses the inspector's report word for...
If you're looking for a holiday to celebrate as summer wanes in North America, today is it: National Punctuation Day! Even if you are reading this post after the fact, punctuation is always something to celebrate. After all, it keeps us out of trouble. Note this example:        ...
My 11-year-old daughter attended the Japan-Seattle Suzuki International Institute this week, and I tagged along as her companion. Attending a class for parents, I picked up advice on how to help her practice and play her violin better. The session was led by a virtuoso violinist and teacher, Brian...
For a business writing class I will teach later today, I asked participants to let me know what they would like to be able do better in their writing. Among those responding, two participants wanted to "use better verbiage" and "use more powerful verbiage." Being an advocate of clear business...