June 2012  
UpWrite Press Writing eTips

Test Your Writing Acumen

This month, let’s take a look at capitalization. Do you know when to capitalize a word, and when not to? Test yourself here. Decide whether the italicized words in the sentences below are correctly or incorrectly capitalized.

  1. Next summer we will be visiting the Southwest.
  2. According to the compass, we are heading Southwest.
  3. Are you taking Global Economics next semester?
  4. I took a course on Global Economics last year.
  5. She is the Vice President of the firm.
  6. Have you met Senator Ryan yet?
  7. I asked Mom to meet us here.
  8. I asked my Mom to meet us here.
  9. I wondered if she was angry (It seemed a logical concern) and wouldn’t show up.
  10. I wondered if she was angry and wouldn’t show up. (It seemed a logical concern.)

Answers can be found near the end of this newsletter.

When Medium Is Well Done: Choosing the Correct Medium for Your Message

There are many media for transmitting your message, so how do you choose the most effective and appropriate one? Here’s a quick breakdown of the various media and when to use them.

  • Media for casual messages: For convenience and spontaneity, you can’t beat text messages, face-to-face conversations, phone calls, or microblogs (Twitter, social-media updates). However, while these forms are great for quick exchanges, they don’t allow much time for careful thought. This can lead to misunderstandings and “foot in mouth” problems, so reserve these media for informal, everyday situations.
  • Media for semiformal messages: Email, blogs, business letters, and meeting minutes, handy for most business applications, provide a more permanent record of communications than casual media can. Their permanency means, though, that you need to give these forms plenty of thought and proofread carefully before sending or finalizing them.
  • Media for formal messages: These include oral or written presentations and hard-copy writing like instructions, proposals, reports, and white papers. They require formal language and precise formatting, so revise, edit, and proofread judiciously for the best results.

You can find more on writing persuasive messages beginning on page 137 in Write for Business: A Compact Guide to Writing and Communicating in the Workplace.

Trainer Tips

Do you get nervous before a presentation? Probably the best way to avoid butterflies is simply to be well prepared. Don’t count on your “muse” visiting while you are in front of a crowd. Instead, practice, practice, practice. Go over your presentation, including a dry run with any slides, handouts, or other visuals. Determine what you want to accomplish with each section of your talk, and concentrate on that purpose. Think ahead and use notes. Finally, if you do make a mistake, don’t panic. Your audience will understand and forgive. Simply acknowledge the error, correct it, and move on.

That Little Extra

Have your neck and shoulders been aching a lot lately? The culprit could be your computer monitor. Desktop monitors are often set fairly low, and laptops are even lower, forcing you to look at a downward angle, which strains your neck and shoulder muscles. One solution is to set your monitor higher. There are a variety of shelf-type units available at office-supply stores. If you use a laptop, you can attach a separate monitor and set it higher. Then adjust your display settings so the raised monitor is either the main or only operating screen.

   

June Writers' Forum Topic

Here’s your chance to tell us how your work environment operates. Send us your responses to the forum question below, and we’ll print the most interesting in our eTips Mid-Month Mini.

What is your greatest inspiration—the one thing that pushes you to do, be, and act better; the driving force that motivates you and keeps you going no matter what? Please share it with us, and then come back to see what drives others, in our June eTips Mid-Month Mini.

E-mail your response to writersforum@upwritepress.com. Write “June Writers’ Forum” in the subject line, and you could see your reply in the eTips Mid-Month Mini.

Answers to This Month’s Quiz

  1. Next summer we will be visiting the Southwest.
    Correct: Specific sections of the country are proper nouns and should be capitalized.
  2. According to the compass, we are heading Southwest.
    Incorrect: Do not capitalize a general direction.
  3. Are you taking Global Economics next semester?
    Correct: Capitalize specific names of courses.
  4. I took a course on Global Economics last year.
    Incorrect: Do not capitalize a general subject or field of study.
  5. She is the Vice President of the firm.
    Incorrect: Do not capitalize a person’s title when it is not used as the person’s name.
  6. Have you met Senator Ryan yet?
    Correct: Capitalize a person’s title when it is used as that person’s name.
  7. I asked Mom to meet us here.
    Correct: Capitalize a word used in place of a proper noun.
  8. I asked my Mom to meet us here.
    Incorrect: Do not capitalize a general noun.
  9. I wondered if she was angry (It seemed a logical concern) and wouldn’t show up.
    Incorrect: Do not capitalize the first word of a parenthetical that is part of a sentence.
  10. I wondered if she was angry and wouldn’t show up. (It seemed a logical concern.)
    Correct: Capitalize the first word of a parenthetical that is a complete sentence and not part of another sentence.

We Want to Hear from You!

This is your chance to be part of the UpWrite Press newsletters and blogs. What writing topics do you want to hear about? Have you any favorite communications tips you’d like to share? What words do you constantly mix up? Send us your ideas and you could see your name in Writing eTips or the Mid-Month Mini.

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Coming in July

The Communication Situation

eTips is a publication of UpWrite Press, P.O. Box 460, Burlington, Wisconsin 53105.
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