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Writing Tips: 104 - 110

Use your browser's Find function to look for tips that apply to your particular situation.

These tips provided by: http://www.basic-learning.com

Books on writing.

Tools to help you include Bull's Eye Business Writing (a self-paced workbook) and How To Improve Your Business Reading Skills (also on CD-ROM)--all from Basic Learning Systems, Inc. 888-204-3600 * See our Web site at http://www.basic-learning.com

Tip # 104: When writing a media release, keep it simple. Journalists want to know who you are, what you're doing, when you're doing it, where it will be and why they should
care: who, what, when where, why.

Those are the five basic questions of journalism, and they apply to public relations, sales, or any business document.

Thanks to infor@businessthinkers.com for this advice.

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Please rewrite these sentences, courtesy of Dartnell:

1. The pedestrian had no idea which direction to go, so Iran over him.

2. I was on my way to the doctor with rear-end trouble when my universal joint gave way causing me to have an accident.

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Here is the suggested rewrite from Purdue University's online writing lab for last week's exercise:

"In response to your question about how many coats of Poly-Treat are needed to cover new surfaces: one gallon is usually enough for one-coat coverage of 500 square feet of
previously painted surface. For the best results on new surfaces, you want to apply two coats."

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Tip #105: Be specific and use terms your reader can picture, or you may lose your reader's attention.
  • Vague: Adverse weather conditions will not result in structural degradation.
    Revised: The roof won't leak if it rains.
  • Vague: The Wall Street Journal is one of the most read newspapers in the business world.
    Revised: Each month, more than six million business people read The Wall Street Journal.


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Please correct the following. Should you use "i.e." or "e.g."?:

1. He has at least one physical feature with inherent comic value, "i.e." Jim Carrey's grin, John Cusack's pout, and Ben Stiller's slouch. (printed in the New York Post)

2. Do you find that you use sex as a way of dealing with feelings ("i.e." stress, loneliness, sadness, fear, anger)?
(published by the Associated Press)

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Here are the suggested answers to last week's exercise:

1. Original: The pedestrian had no idea which direction to go, so I ran over him.

Suggestion: I hit a pedestrian with my car.

2. Original I was on my way to the doctor with rear-end trouble when my universal joint gave way causing me to have an accident.

Suggestion: I had car trouble which caused me to have an accident.

 

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Tip #106: When do you use "due to" or "because of"?" I received this message:

"Dan, can you and Gloria answer this?

In what examples is it better to use "due to" than "because of"? We usually use the latter more than the former, but I read an article in which it was suggested that "due to"
equals "attributable to." Well, isn't "because of" synonymous with "attributable to" as well?

Perplexed in Massachusetts,
Rick"

(The following answers can be found in the Gregg Reference Manual.)

"Due to" introduces an adjective phrase and should modify nouns. It is normally used only after some form of the verb "to be" (is, are, was, were, etc.)

Example: Her success is due to talent and hard work. (Due to modifies success.)


"Because of" and "on account of" introduce adverbial phrases and should modify verbs.

Example: He resigned because of ill health. (Because of modifies resigned.)

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Please correct the following word usage errors:

1. Being that I arrived late, I could not get a seat.
2. The territory is divided evenly among the two sales representatives.
3. Both sisters complained about the other.

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Here are last week's answers:

1. He has at least one physical feature with inherent comic value, "e.g.," Jim Carrey's grin, John Cusack's pout, and Ben Stiller's slouch. (printed in the New York Post)

2. Do you find that you use sex as a way of dealing withfeelings ("e.g.," stress, loneliness, sadness, fear,  anger)? (published by the Associated Press)

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Tip #107: When writing instructions follow these principles:

1. Write instructions concisely, and use the imperative mood (start with a verb).
Example
Change:The operator should raise the access lid." (indicative mood)
To: Raise the access lid. (imperative mood)

2. Instructions should be concise, but should not sound like a telegram.
Example
Change:Pass card through punch area for debris.
To:Pass a card through the punch area to clear away any debris.

3. Divide instructions into short, simple steps.
Example
A. Connect each black cable wire to a brass terminal.
B. Attach one 3-inch green jumper to the cable wire.
C. Connect the jumper wire to the white cable attachment.

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Please correct the following:

1. The peer review group had a lot of objections.
2. Please fill out and submit the above by March 1.
3. He was already to start work on the project.

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Here are the suggested answers to last week's exercise:

1. Because I arrived late, I could not get a seat.
2. The territory is divided evenly between the two sales representatives.
3. Both sisters complained about each other.

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Thanks to Dolores for the following kind remarks about my tips.

Dear Gloria,
 
I can't tell you how much I enjoy the tips and interaction. Thank you so very much.
 
Dolores

 

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Tip # 108: To convey a friendly and confident image of yourself and your organization, take particular care with both the tone and style of your writing.

The following are tips to help you achieve a tone that sounds respectful, modest, polite, and tactful:

1. Sound respectful, not demanding.
Example
I would appreciate your answer within 10 days.

2. Sound modest, not arrogant.
Example
I have tried to be as thorough as possible in my report, and I hope you find this useful.

3. Sound polite, not sarcastic.
Example
I am returning the products we ordered on March 10.Unfortunately, the shipment arrived too late to be useful.

4. Sound positive and tactful, not negative and condescending.
Example
Thank you for your suggestion concerning our prices.We believe, however, that our prices are competitive with, and in some cases are below, those of our competitors.

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This question is from Rick and his MBA students at Babson College. Please send in your answers to help them:

How do we justify the subjective case (or is it even correct, if not why) for:

"Hello."

"May I speak to Gloria?"

"This is she."

Why is she subjective? It's in the predicate, correct?

Thanks, Rick

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The following are suggested answers to last week's exercise:

1. The peer review group had many objections.

2. Please fill out and submit the above questionnaire by March 1.

3. He was all ready to start work on the project.

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Tip #109: To gain the attention of your reader, start your sales or promotional correspondence with an emotion-packed opening statement in a headline, opening sentence, subject line or web page header.

Here are examples of opening statements:
  • "How to stop stress before it stops you"
    (from a personal coach's ad aimed at stressed-out overachievers)
  • "Why almost every financial statement in family court may not
    disclose the full net worth of the opposing spouse"
    (from an investigator's sales letter to divorce lawyers.)

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Please rewrite the following sentences:

1. If I would have been Paula, I would not have started a sexual harassment lawsuit.

2. I asked myself what I would of, could of, and should of done.

3. I don't know what all the deal was with her.

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Last week Rick asked, ""This is she."

Why is she subjective?It's in the predicate, correct?

"She" is correct because it is in the nominative case.Therefore, "she" can be used as a subject or the complement of a verb such as "is."

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Tip # 110: Vary the rhythm and style of your writing by alternating short and long sentences.(These examples have been adapted from the Purdue University Writing lab).

Example
They visited Canada and Alaska last summer to find some native American art. In Anchorage stores they found some excellent examples of soapstone carvings. But they
couldn't find a dealer selling any of the woven wall hangings they wanted.

Revised
They visited Canada and Alaska last summer to find some native American art, such as soapstone carvings and wall hangings. Anchorage stores had many soapstone items available.

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Now try to revise the following sentence by alternating short and long sentences:

"Fast food corporations are producing and advertising bigger items and high-fat combination meals.The American population faces a growing epidemic of obesity."

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Here is another response to my tip #108. I thought this was a good explanation:

She is subjective and correct because she is renaming the subject. When a noun renames the subject following a linking verb, it is always in the subjective case. The
terms subject complement and predicate nominative what "she" in the sentence is.

Other examples:

1) The officers of the PTO are she and I.
2) The new governor is he.

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Here are the answers to tip # 109:

1. If I had been Paula, I would not have started a sexual
harassment lawsuit.
2. I asked myself what I would have, could have, and should
have done.
3. I don't know what the deal was with her.

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Thanks to The Association of Junior Leagues International (AJLI) for having me as a presenter for their 78th annual conference in Miami Beach.

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To turbocharge your own writing skills, visit http://www.basic-learning.com

 

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