The semicolon leads a hard life: ignored by most, scorned by others, misunderstood by many. Who can blame it if it creates trouble for some of us? I'm here to defend the semicolon as a useful member of the family of punctuation marks. I'm also here to answer the...
This post should go under the category "Things I Should Have Known." It's about hyphenation. Did you know that in Microsoft Word you can insert an optional hyphen? You are probably wondering why you would want to. Example: Imagine you are writing a two-column piece such as a newsletter article....
Every week I get an email from someone that wasn't meant to be sent--at least not in its current state. The next message, sent seconds later, says "Oops! Please ignore my previous message." One way or another, the writer sent the email by mistake. It wasn't finished, reviewed for completeness,...
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...
Update on December 27, 2011: For New Year's wishes, read this post. As the year ends, many people in business are emailing new year's greetings to clients, customers, patrons, volunteers, and employees. If you are at a loss for what to say or how to say it, consider these...
During the holiday season, many people write an annual holiday letter or Christmas letter that reviews the previous 12 months. One challenge is how to write it without sounding like a bragger. Another is to avoid merely listing job promotions, vacations, and our children's accomplishments. Although holiday letters are...
The days of long sentences in long paragraphs are long gone. Our readers need to retrieve information fast. An excellent way to help them do this is to lay out information in bulleted lists. Definition: A "bullet point" is an item introduced by a dot ("bullet") or a similar...
On Thursday, I wrote about my attempt to use the right search string so my readers could find me. I used the words "Can you start a sentence with and" because readers had not found me when I used the phrasing "Can 'And' or 'But' Start a Sentence?" It worked....
You've probably experienced this awkward situation: a person makes a request to you in writing, and you have to say no--in writing. On the telephone or in person, you could respond earnestly, "I'm sorry! I wish I could!" or "Unfortunately, I have to say no." But it's a bit...
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 clients...