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Writing Tips: 261 - 270

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

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Tip #261:  What's the difference between worrying and problem-solving?
Answer: a pencil and paper. 

When you have a concern you need to solve, try this:

Take a piece of paper and draw a vertical line down the middle.  Place
the negative issues on the left and the positive issues on the right. 
As you review what you have written, find links to each negative to
something positive. 

*********************************************************

Please choose the correct word:

1. If I (was, were) working at the bank across the
   street, I would have every Friday off.
2. If you (was, were) young again, what would you change?
3. If I (was, were) you, I would accept the offer.

*********************************************************

Last week's exercise: 

Play "Chop It" with the following.  Get rid of any useless
information:

"In order to keep you informed of the results of the sales meeting
held on  February 10 to consider ways and means of reducing the cost
of the proposed spring sales campaign, we are submitting herewith a
brief resume and the procedure outlined for the cost reduction plan."
*********

Janice B Allen's answer:  We are submitting the results of our
February 10th meeting outlining the spring sales campaign and the
procedures used to reduce cost.
********

Phyllis Durham's answer:  The Sales Meeting on February 10th produced
an outline of procedures drafted to reduce costs. Attached are a brief
resume and the
initial outline.
********

Signe Knudsen's answer:  Here is the cost reduction plan for the
proposed spring sales campaign that was drafted at the February 10th
sales meeting.
*********

P. Martin's answer:  To keep you informed of the results of the
February 10 sales meeting on reducing the cost of the proposed spring
sales campaign, we are submitting a brief outline of our cost
reduction plan.

*********************************************************

Pet Peeves:

Mary Ann Reedy comments: Pet Peeve as seen in a response to "Business
Writing Tips #255"  made by Steve S.  His comment made her feel :
YIKES...LIKE FINGERNAILS RUBBING ACROSS A BLACKBOARD.  Here is the
comment: The sentence, "Due to heavy rain, the house has flooding in
the basement" is perfectly correct. I'm no grammar guru, so when I
have a question I use the substitution method. Substitute "Because of"
and you have a sentence with the exact same meaning.

*********************************************************

"Never confuse activity with results."  (Leo Gerstner, CEO, IBM)





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Tip # 262:  Only objects (e.g. people, rocks, potatoes, etc.) can be
hot or cold. As temperatures are not objects, they cannot have these
properties; they can only be high, low, normal, etc.  The same is true
with prices. Since prices are not bought and sold, they can be neither
expensive nor cheap, but only high, low, outrageous, etc.
(Thanks to my reader, Yossi David, for this information.)

*********************************************************

Rewrite this confusing sentence:

During the annual meeting, employees cheered as the company logo was
raised up the flagpole, followed by the chairman of the board giving
his speech.

*********************************************************

Last week's exercise: Please choose the correct word:
1. If I (was, were) working at the bank across the
   street, I would have every Friday off.
2. If you (was, were) young again, what would you change?
3. If I (was, were) you, I would accept the offer.
******

Answers:  All the answers need the verb "were" because the verbs are
in the subjunctive tense and project "wishful thinking."  Subjunctive
tense uses the verbs "were" and "would."

*********************************************************

Pet Peeve:

Anna Chamberland comments:
The word "that" is over used by many people. While speaking, many
people insert the word "that" and naturally tend to enter it in their
written comments. Many times, "that" can be eliminated.

For instance:   "Nate said that there are many reasons why incidents
occur and that we can avoid these with the right mindset."

Consider the flow here:
"Nate said there are many reason why incidents occur and we can avoid
these with the right mindset."
*******

Becky Hodge comments:

Pet Peeeve.. The use of the word "irregardless." It's a double
negative!

*********************************************************

"Three things never return:  the past, the neglected opportunity, and
the spoken word."




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Tip #263:  Make sure your writing compositions:

  * Contain the right message
  * Are coherent
  * Are easy to read
  * Have variety
  * Are positive
  * Are concise
  * Emphasize important point
  * Use correct grammar, spelling, punctuation

*********************************************************

Rewrite the following negative sentence:

There is absolutely no way our understaffed and overworked department
can meet the impossible deadline you have set for this project.

*********************************************************

Last week's exercise: Rewrite this confusing sentence:

During the annual meeting, employees cheered as the company logo was
raised up the flagpole, followed  by the chairman of the board giving
his speech.
*******

Correction: 

The chairman of the board spoke at the annual meeting after employees
cheered as the company logo was raised on the flag pole.

*********************************************************

"Nobody notices what I do, until I don't do it."




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Tip #264:  Give your reports a structure:

   * Purpose:  why the reader should pay attention
   * Summary:  no surprise endings
   * Findings:  what facts can you provide?
   * Conclusions:  what patterns do you see?
   * Recommendations:  what action do you propose?
   * Next steps:  costs, timing, issues to be resolved

*********************************************************

Please make corrections to the following sentences.

1. The DH 34 converter which is powered by the system's
   on-board computer is integrated into Program 56C on
   the spacecraft.

2. A study was made concerning the effectiveness of our
   marketing approaches.

3. The procedure on all IGQ graphic systems, each of
   which has multiple steps, have only one page of
   procedural documentation.

*********************************************************

Last week's exercise: Rewrite the following negative sentence:

There is absolutely no way our understaffed and overworked department
can meet the impossible deadline you have set for this project.

*****

Suggestions:

By adding additional staff it might be possible to process some of the
current backlog of work and meet this deadline.

The deadline you set for this project can be met with adequate
assistance of other departmental staff.

To meet the difficult deadline for this project, we need to add
additional staff.

There is absolutely no way our understaffed and overworked department
can meet the impossible deadline you have set for this project.

*********************************************************

Pet Peeve:

F. X Bergmeister comments:  "general concensus"-no need for the
"general."

*********************************************************

"Who begins too much accomplishes little." (German proverb)




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Tip # 265:  Writer's block is caused by physical and psychological
reasons; therefore, try relaxation techniques such as a brisque walk
or a gym workout and outlining techniques such as clustering or
mind-mapping your ideas.

*********************************************************

Please answer S. Sarosh's question: What is the difference between a
synopsis and an executive summary?  Also, can you use them as
synonyms?

*********************************************************

Last week's exercise: 

Please make corrections to the following sentences.

1. The DH 34 converter which is powered by the system's
   on-board computer is integrated into Program 56C on
   the spacecraft.
2. A study was made concerning the effectiveness of our
   marketing approaches.
3. The procedure on all IGQ graphic systems, each of
   which has multiple steps, have only one page of
   procedural documentation.
*******

Suggestions:

1. The DH 34 converter, which is powered by the system's
   on-board computer, is integrated into Program 56C of
   the spacecraft.
2. We made a study of the effectiveness of our marketing
   approaches.
3. The procedure of all IGQ graphic systems has been
   distilled onto a one-page document.
*******

1. Powered by an on-board computer, the DH 34 converter
   connects to the spacecraft's 56C Program.
2. A study rated our marketing effectiveness.
3. Although each IGO graphic system has multiple steps,
   only a single page documents the overall procedure.
******

Roger Groce comments about last week's practice: 

Wow, Gloria, these rewrites were disappointing because they seemed to
miss an important premise:  That meeting the deadline requested would
require either abandoning commitments already made or --- obviously
--- adding more staff.  Because adding personnel is unlikely in
today's business environment, I respectfully suggest the statements
presented as alternatives fall short on practicality, good business
logic, and  good business writing. (StyleWriter, the program you cited
last year, rated them as "Bad" on Style, "Too Short" on Sentence
Length, and only "Good" on Passive Voice use.)  I was myself surprised
to see "add additional" constructions in two of the proposed
alternatives. Your column is nevertheless a most enjoyable feature
that I look forward to. Thanks for stimulating my gray cells every
week.

*********************************************************

"Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in
overalls and looks like work." ( Thomas Edison, inventor)





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Tip #266:  The words "each," "every," "neither," "either," "another,"
and "much" are always singular and need a singular verb.

*********************************************************

Please correct the following sentences:
1. Nobody and nothing  (are, is) going to stop me.
2. Anyone and everyone (are, is) entitled to a
   fair hearing.
3. Twelve each of these items (are, is) required.
4. Many a liberal and conservative (have, has) raised
   objections to that proposal.

*********************************************************

Last week's question: 

Please answer S. Sarosh's question: What is the difference between a
synopsis and an executive summary?  Also, can you use them as
synonyms?
*******

Suggested answers:

F.X.Bergmeister, Col. USMCR comments:
A synopsis is a summary of a document for a general audience.
An executive summary is a summary for an individual or individuals who
need the information for decision-making.
*******

Nancy Gesk comments:

As a business writing teacher years ago and a proposal and technical
writer currently, I have taught  that an executive summary is a
part of a multi-section/chapter document such as a proposal. A
synopsis, on the other hand, is a stand-alone document about a
particular topic. A synopsis may also be about a multi-section
proposal that is to be submitted in time, but this is submitted
separately.

In formal proposal writing, an executive overview is the first section
of your document (after a table of contents) and an executive summary
is the last section of your document (before appendices and
attachments). This is a common misunderstanding that I see repeatedly.
Get the word out!

*********************************************************

"You are today where your thoughts have brought you; you will be
tomorrow where your thoughts take you." ( James Allen)



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Tip #267:  "Graduated" vs. "was graduated".  Both forms are correct;
however, use "from" after either expression. 

For example:  My daughter graduated from Yale University this year.

*********************************************************

Please correct the following: 
1. Fewer or less accidents (a smaller number) were
   reported than was expected.

2. The drive from the airport was farther or further
   (in actual distance) than we expected.

3. Everyone has been transferred except Jean and
   I or me.

*********************************************************

Last week's exercise: Please correct the following sentences:

1. Nobody and nothing  (are, is) going to stop me.
2. Anyone and everyone (are, is) entitled to a
   fair hearing.
3. Twelve each of these items (are, is) required.
4. Many a liberal and conservative (have, has)
   raised objections to that proposal.
******

Answers:
1. Nobody and nothing (is) going to stop me.
2. Anyone and everyone (is)entitled to a fair hearing.
3. Twelve each of these items (are) required.
4. Many a liberal and conservative (has) raised
   objections to that proposal.

*********************************************************

Thanks to Steve Sorenson for sending me this quote: "A writer is
somebody for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other
people."  (Thomas Mann, writer)



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Tip #268: A few nouns have the same form in the singular as in the
plural.  When they are used as subjects, these nouns can take either a
singular or a plural verb according to the sentence meaning. 

For example: 
  The series of tickets are going to be issued.
  (Several series) 
  The series of concerts planned for the fall season
  looks exciting.  (One series)

*********************************************************

Please answer Jaime Glottman's question:

Are "got" and 'gotten" the same when used as past participle?
(I've got drunk ....or, I've gotten drunk a few times)?

*********************************************************

Last week's exercise: 

Please correct the following: 
1. Fewer or less accidents (a smaller number) were
   reported than was expected.
2. The drive from the airport was farther or further
   (in actual distance) than we expected.
3. Everyone has been transferred except Jean and I or me.

**********

Suggested answers: 

Answers and explanation provided by reader Tracy A. Walker
1. Fewer accidents (a smaller number) were reported
   than was expected.
   Less refers to general amounts; fewer refers to specific
   items that can be counted.
 
2. The drive from the airport was farther (in actual
   distance) than we expected.
   Farther is related to distance; further is related
   to time or amounts.

3. Everyone has been transferred except Jean and me.
   If you eliminate "Jean and," the sentence would read:
   Everyone has been transferred except me.

*********************************************************

"Personality can open doors, but only character can keep them open." 
(Elmer Leterman, business executive)



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Tip # 269: Before writing a proposal, ask yourself these questions:

1. Has the idea worked in another organization?
2. How well did it work?
3. Can you find statistics and published results?

*********************************************************

Redo the following sentences:

1. We decided to stay at the office, it was late.
2. After reading the yearly report, Jane went to her
   office now air conditioned and called the share holders.

*********************************************************

Last week's question: 
Please answer Jaime Glottman's question:
 
Are "got" and 'gotten" the same when used as past participle?
(I've got drunk ....or, I've gotten drunk a few times)?

******

Thanks to Grace Ling for her explanation:
 
In England, the old word "gotten" dropped out of use except in such
stock phrases as "ill-gotten" and "gotten up," but in the U.S. it is
frequently used as the past participle of "get." Sometimes the two are
interchangeable, However, "got" implies current possession, as in
"I've got just five dollars to buy my dinner with." "Gotten," in
contrast, often implies the process of getting hold of something:
"I've gotten five dollars for cleaning out Mrs. Cumby's shed"
emphasizing the earning of the money rather than its possession.
Phrases that involve some sort of process usually involve "gotten":
"My grades have gotten better since I moved out of the fraternity."
When you have to leave, you've got to go. If you say you've "gotten to
go" you're implying someone gave you permission to go.
******

Thanks to  Valerie Wallace for her explanation:

In my opinion, "got" should be used as a 'stand alone' past
participle: I got drunk a few times.   "Gotten" is best used with have
or had, and---to my ear---indicates more information will follow:  I
have/had gotten drunk a few times, but have/had never been stopped
until today.



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Tip # 270:  Here are some terms to use when discussing writing:

Drafting:  getting everything together for the first time

Revising: using a set of parameters and looking at the
          document through them

Rewriting: taking your revisions and putting them together

Editing: considering any special techniques in the document

Publishing: pushing the return button that sends e-mail
            or starts the printer

*********************************************************

Please answer the following question by Gayle Carney:  

MS Word and I have an ongoing argument about the use of the word
"staff".  Word insists that it only represents the singular form, (One
of our staff is going to the conference), whereas I find it is
commonly used to represent plural (All of our staff are going to the
conference). When I use staff in to represent more than one person,
Word flags it in the grammar check every time. Would you please
explain the proper use of this word?

*********************************************************

Last  exercise: Redo the following sentences:
1. We decided to stay at the office, it was late.
2. After reading the yearly report, Jane went to her office
   now air conditioned and called the share holders.
******

Suggestions:

1. We decided to stay at the office because it was late.
2. After reading the yearly report, Jane went to her
   office, now air conditioned, and called the share holders.
*******

Jaime Glottmann comments: 
Many thanks to Grace and Valery for their excellent explanations.
Incidentally, I am totally at a loss trying to explain to my students
the purpose of the "got" in sentences such as ""I've got a friend in
Canada" or "I've got to buy toilet paper". What's wrong with "I have a
friend in Canada" and "I have to buy toilet paper"? How did that "got"
get into the language? Incidentally, the "I've got's" here are NOT
present perfect, so "gotten" would be completely out of place.
*******

Ms Kawali asks: 
I'd like to know what words and expressions are considered outdated? I
hope you would post a list of it on next weeks' tip.  

*********************************************************

"Some think it's holding on that makes one strong; sometimes it's
letting go."  (Sylvia Robinson)





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