Does your Microsoft Office grammar and spelling checker ever flag passive verbs in your writing? If not, do not assume your writing is free of passive verbs. Instead, assume that you do not have your grammar and spelling checker set to flag them. To test your setup, type the sentence...
Most New Year's resolutions have to do with more and less. I will exercise more. I will eat less. I will delegate more. I will spend less time working late. In the spirit of more and less, I offer these suggestions for improving your business writing in 2007. 1. Pick...
Congratulations to science writer Paul Haase. He just won $1,000 for explaining "through-put maximization" in plain language using grains of rice. According to today's Seattle Times, Haase won the money in a challenge sponsored by Doug MacDonald, secretary of the Washington State Department of Transportation. The challenge was to...
Today in a business writing class, I worked with nine people in sales in a successful global firm. When I showed them a slide with 24 acronyms and abbreviations they use in their writing, they admitted that they could not define or recognize all of them. (Remember: These were...
Policies, procedures, processes--these are three distinct types of documents. Unfortunately, their apparent similarities tempt many writers to lump policy, process, and procedure together in one document. When they do, the reader who wants to follow the procedure gets stuck in the policy. The reader who needs to know the...
UPDATED IN FEBRUARY 2019 One night last week I attended a dinner meeting of my local chapter of the Association for Talent Development (ATD), my professional organization of people who teach adults. We call ourselves trainers or workplace development specialists. A trainer at my table was surprised to learn that...
Congratulations to the two winners of the Quick Editing Contest! First-place winner is Wayne Schiess, Director of Legal Writing, University of Texas Law School. The second place goes to John Cline, founder of The Speaking Company. Both did a fine job of revising the 139-word sentence. First, here is...
People often visit this site looking for evidence of the cost of writing errors. Here is a story to add to your files. According to The Janesville Gazette, the Florida career management firm Allen and Associates is being sued because of a letter that should not have been sent,...
I just received an email with a sentence long enough to reach from Seattle to Sydney. It's 139 words--a stringy list of job requirements that test the reader's endurance. If the writer had formatted the content clearly and simply, this excerpt from a job announcement would have been easy...
Today I led a seminar called Email Intelligence with 22 people at the Port of Seattle. Like many of us, Port employees and managers get lots of email on countless topics from all kinds of people both inside and outside their organization. About 70 percent of participants in the...