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Writing Tips: 541 - 550

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

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Tip #541: Format of a report

When writing a report, consider several factors in selecting the appropriate format: Who is your audience? What is your purpose?

Audience: If the report is for your supervisor or a colleague, it may be written in an informal manner as an e-mail or a memo. If it is for top management, it should follow a more formal format. Possible sections of a report are a title page, summary, main discussion with tables and bulleted lists, and appendices with supplementary documentation.

Purpose: If your purpose is to provide information (without any other motive), then simply lay out the facts in a clear manner. If you hope to convince the recipient of the report to accept your point of view, then you may need to develop a logical and detailed argument in support of your position. To do that, you may also need to include information from published sources to show how others in your field deal with similar issues.

Quiz

Check your knowledge of basic memo writing:
1. How wide should the margins of the page be?
2. Should a memo have a greeting line (Dear Bob)?
3. What are some of the typical information lines included in the header?

Vocabulary Word of the Week

Rescind (v.) [RI-sind]: to annul, to make void.
Ex.: The director is planning to rescind the job offer made to the candidate.
 

Quotation of the Week

There are some things one can only achieve by a deliberate leap in the opposite direction.
---Frank Kafka (in Conversations with Kafka by Janouch)

Quiz Answers

1. Margins should be one inch on all sides.
2. Memos do not include a greeting line.
3. The header typically includes four main lines: To, From, Date, and Subject.




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Tip #542: Reversed outline

Most people are familiar with the idea of writing an outline of a document before they write the actual document. However, doing the opposite can be very helpful when you are not sure if your report or letter is focused and thorough. Read your document and for each paragraph write what that paragraph "says" (its main idea) and what it "does" (its purpose within the document).

Look at the following example:

Winters in New York can be brutal. The wind crawls under one's clothes and dances through the open spaces. The ice on the ground makes people tiptoe through the streets, afraid of loosing their grip. Banks of snow force those brave enough to drive to park in unnatural positions.

Says: Winters in New York are brutal.
Does: Provides a description of what winters in New York feel like.

Understanding the main idea and the role of each paragraph can greatly improve the overall flow of the document.


Quiz
Identify the "says" and "does" statements for the following paragraph:


"An itinerary should clearly set forth the travel arrangements and the appointment schedule of the person making the trip. If the itinerary is intended only for the use of the person traveling, it should be possible to eliminate certain items and abbreviate details that the person is quite familiar with. However, if the itinerary will be distributed to others (. . .), present the information as fully and as clearly as possible" (Sabin, 2001, p. 502).

Vocabulary Word of the Week
Leverage (n.) [LE-ve-rij]: position of advantage; power to act

Ex: He used his extensive experience as leverage during the salary negotiations.


Quotation of the Week
The best way out of a difficulty is through it.
---Anonymous



Quiz Answers
Says: An itinerary should clearly set forth travel information.
Does: Explains the level of detail needed in an itinerary.





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Tip # 543: Paragraphs

A paragraph is a basic unit of writing, which unites sentences into meaningful groups. Contrary to what many of us were taught in school about the five-sentence paragraphs, a paragraph can be anywhere from one sentence to half a page long as long as it presents ideas in a unified manner. A strong paragraph should be unified around a central or main idea.

A new paragraph can begin
* when the topic or one aspect of the topic has been fully discussed; or
* when the focus shifts to a new or different thought (as well as new time or location).

For example, if you are discussing business meetings scheduled for Monday, start a new paragraph when you switch to the discussion of the Tuesday’s meetings.


Quiz

Divide the following text into paragraphs.

On Jan. 20, Barack Obama will be inaugurated as the 44th president of the United States. Students, faculty, and staff will have two venues to come together on campus and view this historic moment. Flight Deck at the University Center (11 a.m. - 2 p.m.): The Office of Student Engagement will be hosting an inauguration viewing party at the Flight Deck. There will be free food, refreshments, and raffles. For more information, contact the Office of Student Engagement at sample@university.edu. The Marvin Helbin Library (11:45 a.m. - 2 p.m.): The inauguration viewing will be held in room 315. Immediately after the inauguration, there will be a panel discussion about the similarities between Barack Obama and President Abraham Lincoln. For more information, please call 800-123-4637.


Vocabulary Word of the Week
Congruent (adj.) [cun-GROO-int]: agreeing or corresponding in kind.

Ex: After discussing the new project with my group members, I see that our thinking on it is congruent.

Carol Graumann sent in the following quotation:

Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could only do a little. - Edmund Burke, British statesman and philosopher (1729 - 1797)


Quiz Answers

On Jan. 20, Barack Obama will be inaugurated as the 44th president of the United States. Students, faculty, and staff will have three venues to come together on campus and view this historic moment.

Flight Deck at the University Center (11 a.m. - 2 p.m.):
The Office of Student Engagement will be hosting an inauguration viewing party at the Flight Deck. There will be free food, refreshments, and raffles. For more information, contact the Office of Student Engagement at sample@university.edu.

The Marvin Helbin Library (11:45 a.m. - 2 p.m.):
The inauguration viewing will be held in room 315. Immediately after the inauguration, there will be a panel discussion about the similarities between Barack Obama and President Abraham Lincoln. For more information, please call 800-123-4637.




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Tip # 544: Sports expressions

Many of the American sports terms have been turned into expressions that are routinely used in business communication. Here are some of them:

1. Strike out [fail]
2. Throw a curve [surprise]
3. Team player [works well with others]
4. Drop the ball [make a serious mistake]
5. Ballpark [approximate]
6. Touch base with [meet or connect with someone briefly]
7. Call the shots [make the rules]

(Based on Biz Talk-1 by David Burke, Optima Books)


Quiz

Create a sentence with each of the expressions above.

Vocabulary Word of the Week
Eminent (adj.) [EM-e-nent]: standing above others, prominent, well-known, well-respected.

Ex. Eminent members of the community will be attending the meeting.


The only things worth learning are the things you learn after you know it all.
--- Harry S. Truman (1884-1972), 33rd President of the United States


Send us your favorite quotation and it may appear here.
Quiz Answers
Possible quiz answers:
1. I hope we do not strike out by hiring Anna.
2. The director threw me a curve by asking me to speak at the meeting.
3. Anna is turning out to be a great team player.
4. The purchasing department dropped the ball on this project.
5. Can you give me a ballpark figure on how much this printing job will cost?
6. I wanted to touch base with you about the presentation before we go into the meeting.
7. Our dean calls all the shots in this college.



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Tip # 545: Parallel language

When listing several items, make sure you use parallel language (words in the same form).

Look at this example: Our office provides the following services: tips for job-hunting, to search for job availabilities, editing resumes.

In this sentence, the three listed services are all mismatched –tips (noun), to search (verb in the infinitive form), and editing (gerund).

To make the language parallel, select one form and apply it to all items. Our office provides the following services: we offer tips for job-hunting, help you search for job-availabilities, and edit resumes.

Now each service begins with a verb in the present tense (offer, help, and edit).

 

Quiz

Change the following sentences to ensure parallel language:
1. Dorm residents are allowed to socialize in the common areas, use of the gym, and cooking in the kitchen.
2. The meeting will focus on the new internal policies, starting the new department, and how to use the database.
3. Come to our workshop and learn how to understand your financial documents, about filing taxes, and the process of debt management.

Vocabulary Word of the Week
Irreverence (n.) [ir-RE-vi-rins]: lack of respect.

Ex.: The regional coordinator showed irreverence toward the director.


Quotation of the Week

Commitment unlocks the doors of imagination, allows vision, and gives us the "right stuff" to turn our dreams into reality.--James Womack, management expert

Quiz Answers
1. Dorm residents are allowed to socialize in the common areas, use the gym, and cook in the kitchen.
2. The meeting will focus on the revamped internal policies, the new department, and the database.
3. Come to our workshop and learn how to understand your financial documents, file taxes, and manage your debt.



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Tip # 546: Similar-sounding words

Some similar-sounding words have different meanings depending on whether they are written together or apart.

Anyway - in any case
Any way - any method


A part - one part
Apart - not together


Everyday - ordinary
Every day - each day

Quiz

Fill in the blank with the right word.
1. We print out sales reports ____________ (everyday, every day).
2. From now on, Elise and Carla will sit (a part, apart).
3. You can write this report _____________ you like (anyway, any way).
4. Michael wants to be _____________ of our team (a part, apart).
Vocabulary Word of the Week
Aficionado (n.) [af-fish-yo-NAH-do] -a person with intense interest in
something; an enthusiastic admirer or follower.

Ex: As an aficionado of art, she was in her glory while visiting the Louvre.

Quotation of the Week

Doing isn't difficult. Deciding is.
---Foster Hibbard, renowned professional speaker


Quiz Answers

1. We print out sales reports every day.
2. From now on, Elise and Carla will sit apart.
3. You can write this report any way you like.
4. Michael wants to be a part of our team.


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Tip # 547: Semicolons

Semicolons are used in the following cases:

1. When two independent clauses are linked together without conjunctions, such as 'and,' 'but,' 'or,' or 'not'. Example: The new files were saved on the shared drive; the old ones were archived.

2. When two independent clauses are linked with transitional expressions, such as 'for example,' 'namely,' or 'that is'. The colon is placed before the transitional expression, and a comma is placed after it. Example: He makes a very good argument; namely, his point about the transitional period.


3. When creating a list of items, which contain internal commas. Example: The meeting was attended by Diane Sweet, the director of finances; Mary Molten, the vice president of manufacturing; and Peter Clam, vice president of transportation.


Quiz

Place semicolons where appropriate.
1. The new cafeteria will greatly improve our work flow for example, catering for office events will be handled right here on the premises.
2. When attending the class, please bring your notes, which should be kept in a notebook or a binder your exercises, which should provide detailed solutions and your textbooks.
3. Employees will be released at 12:30 p.m. the office will close shortly after.
Vocabulary Word of the Week
Perilous (adj.) [PE-ri-lis]: dangerous.
Ex: Going over your director's head may prove to be perilous.

 

Quotation of the Week

We are what we repeatedly do.
---Aristotle (384-322 B.C.) Greek philosopher



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Tip # 548: There is and there are

Avoid beginning sentences with 'there is' or 'there are.' These phrases burden the sentence without adding anything of substance. Eliminating them makes the sentence crisper and more professional.

Example: There are five members on our committee.
Better: Our committee consists of five members.

Example: There is a new plan that will be put into effect in March.
Better: A new plan will be put into effect in March.

Quiz

Rewrite the following sentences by eliminating 'there is' and 'there are.'
1. There are some changes that you need to make before submitting this proposal.
2. There is an item that I would like to add to the agenda.
3. There are new members of the team that he wants to introduce to us.
4. There is a lot of work that we still need to do.
Vocabulary Word of the Week

Daunting (adj.) [DAWN-ting]: intimidating, discouraging, or worrying.
Example: Putting together the end-of-the-year report is a daunting task.

Quotation of the Week

The greatest problem of communication is the illusion that it has been accomplished.

---George Bernard Shaw (1856 - 1950)
 


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Tip # 549: Plurals

To form a plural of nouns that end with s, z, ch, sh, and x, add es to the end of the word.
Bus - buses
Quiz - quizzes
Beach - beaches
Wish - wishes
Box - boxes

If the ch at the end of the word makes the sound {k}, add only s.
Stomach - stomachs


Quiz

Create proper plural forms of the nouns:
1. The interior designer will bring her ____________ (sketch) of the office.
2. ____________ (fax) can be sent to (954) 999-3333.
3. Mr. Wilson owns several ________________ (business) around the country.
4. Your ____________ (topaz) should be stored in the safe deposit box.
5. The documentary will focus on the reign of the French ______________ (monarch).
Vocabulary Word of the Week
Contingent (adj.) [kan-TIN-jint]: dependent on circumstances or conditions.
Ex: Our office retreat is contingent on our ability to cover the expenses.

Quotation of the Week

Education is the most valuable weapon which you can use to change the world.
---Nelson Mandela




Quiz Answers

1. The interior designer will bring her sketches of the office.
2. Faxes can be sent to (954) 999-3333.
3. Mr. Wilson owns several businesses around the country.
4. Your topazes should be stored in the safe deposit box.
5. The documentary will focus on the reign of the French monarchs.




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Tip #550: Small vs. little and large vs. big

The word small refers to size (a small box). The word little refers to size, but also expresses
an emotion (a little girl vs. my little girl).

Little relates to uncountable nouns, while small can relate to both countable and uncountable nouns (a little information, a small amount, a small business).

The words big and large both refer to concrete nouns, which describe things that can be touched (a large house, a big boat). Big, however, can also be used with abstract nouns (a big mistake, big dreams).


Quiz

Select the most appropriate quantifier:
1. She has some _________ ideas about her future (big, large).
2. I found a __________ notepad in the drawer (small, little).
3. The meeting will take place in the _________ room (big, large).
4. I have _________ sympathy for him (small, little).
Vocabulary Word of the Week
Stymied (adj.) [STI-mid]: blocked, obstructed, hindered.

Ex: The transit strike stymied the progress of the construction project.


Quotation of the Week

Life is not about how fast you run, or how high you climb, but about how well you bounce.
---Anonymous



Quiz Answers

1. She has some big ideas about her future.
2. I found a small notepad in the drawer.
3. The meeting will take place in the large room.
4. I have little sympathy for him



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