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...
When you have a choice, do you prefer being with people who are positive--or negative? When you read business letters, reports, email, and other documents, which tone--positive or negative--makes the message more enjoyable to read? Which inspires you? Unless you are a negative person (in which case you must keep...
Because today is the birthday of our fabulous desktop publisher, Debbie Esposito, I have been thinking happily of what Debbie has brought to our printed materials:     Class, professionalism, and visual appeal When I walk into a room to give a marketing presentation or a class, people often glance...
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...
In a recent post, I referred to CEO as an acronym, but it's not. Now that I have been corrected, I'll share my learning with you. CEO (for Chief Executive Officer) is an initialism--not an acronym. We pronounce each letter, just as we do with ATM, LCD, and FDA. NOW...
Acronyms deserve their bad reputation. Those TLAs (three-letter acronyms) are guilty of excluding, confusing, and delaying readers. And what's worse--many times we can't agree on what they stand for. Nevertheless, like carbohydrates, snowmobiles, and pigeons, there's a place for them. For example, CEO is just right in the title...
Podcasting, adware, RSS feeds, firewall--these terms are all commonly found in blogs, on high-tech web sites, in consumer-focused articles, and in PowerPoint presentations across the globe. But do readers know what these words mean? According to the Pew Internet & American Life Project, many do not. Here are some...
Many communication and marketing experts talk about having an elevator speech. It's the mini-speech you give someone to promote yourself, your idea, or your business. The connection with elevators is the idea that you have only 30 seconds or less--the time it would take to get to the top...
Yesterday I received Robert Middleton's weekly e-newsletter, "More Clients." The newsletter has a subscriber list of more than 40,000, and Robert is a top marketing resource for small service businesses. This week's "More Clients" focused on repackaging one's products and services. Although it wasn't about writing, it reminded me that...
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...