February 2014  
UpWrite Press Writing eTips

Test Your Writing Acumen

The most common way to form a plural noun is to add “s.” However, some nouns are irregular and require a different spelling. Here’s a chance to find out how much you know about forming the plurals of irregular nouns. For each of the following sentences, write the correct plural form of the singular noun given in parentheses.

  1. We carefully considered the (criterion) presented before making a decision.
  2. The doctors put forth two very different (diagnosis) for the problem.
  3. Many interesting (symposium) were offered at the annual conference.
  4. We are worried about the disappearance of several (species).
  5. Our business plan for the coming year contains three (focus).
  6. Our CEO is prominent in the (index) of quite a few business texts.
  7. Perhaps economic recovery will be possible after the (embargo) are lifted.
  8. HR sifted through some impressive (vita) to find the top three candidates for the position.
  9. The prefab building arrived on-site in two (half).

Answers can be found near the end of this newsletter.

Punctuating Titles: Quotation Marks, Italics, and Underlining

Do you ever wonder whether to use quotation marks, italics, or underlining to punctuate a certain title? Which is correct, and when? The following information will help.

Use quotation marks for the titles of short works:

  • A poem
    • “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost
    • “A Life” by Sylvia Plath
    • “A Dream Deferred” by Langston Hughes
  • A short story
    • “The Snows of Kilimanjaro” by Ernest Hemingway
    • “Bullet in the Brain” by Tobias Wolff
    • “A Good Man Is Hard to Find” by Flannery O’Connor
  • An essay
    • “Consider the Lobster” by David Foster Wallace
    • “Notes of a Native Son,” by James Baldwin
    • “Warren Buffett on ‘Mr. Market’ ”
  • A song
    • “Moonlight Serenade”
    • “Eleanor Rigby”
    • “Roar”

Use italics for the titles of long works or for collections of short works:

  • A novel, play, film, or book-length poem
    • Great Expectations by Charles Dickens (novel)
    • The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams (play)
    • Dallas Buyers Club (film)
    • The Odyssey by Homer (epic poem)
  • A magazine or newspaper
    • Fortune
    • The Wall Street Journal
  • A collection of short works, including music CDs or albums:
    • The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien (short-story collection)
    • The White Album by the Beatles
    • Great American Poetry (poetry anthology)

NOTE: Underlining is no longer used for titles, except to represent italics in handwritten materials. Nowadays, underlining indicates a clickable hyperlink.

You can learn more about the writing process beginning on page 27 in Write for Business: A Compact Guide to Writing and Communicating in the Workplace.

Trainer Tip

If your business offers regular training to its employees, consider changing the delivery method occasionally to make the sessions more pleasant for workers. For example, if you present a live lecture on using an operating system one month, offer hands-on training to apply a new troubleshooting strategy the next. Other training ideas include multimedia approaches, group work, and guest presenters.

That Little Extra

One benefit of understanding writing as a multistep process is being able to draft without worrying about spelling, punctuation, and so on. And with that worry laid to rest, you can more easily get your hopes, dreams, plans, and concerns out of your busy head and onto paper. Whether it’s a to-do list, a journal entry, a few paragraphs about goals, or something else entirely, experts say that this sort of writing can calm and focus the mind.

   

February 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.

Our language keeps changing, with new terms appearing regularly. What words have appeared recently that you particularly like (or particularly dislike)?

Email your response to writersforum@upwritepress.com. Write “February 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. We carefully considered the (criterion) presented before making a decision.
    (criteria)
    Change the ending “on” to “a” to form this plural. Another example: phemomenon-phemomena
  2. The doctors put forth two very different (diagnosis) for the problem.
    (diagnoses) Change the ending “is” to “es” to form this plural. Other examples: thesis-theses, basis-bases
  3. Many interesting (symposium) were offered at the annual conference.
    (symposia) Change the ending “um” to “a” to form this plural. Other examples: bacterium-bacteria, datum-data
  4. We are worried about the disappearance of several (species).
    (species)
    Surprise! Some words retain the same spelling for the plural form. Other examples: sheep, aircraft, headquarters
  5. Our business plan for the coming year contains three (focus).
    (foci)
    Change the ending “us” to “i” to form this plural. Other examples: alumnus-alumni, radius-radii, stimulus-stimuli
  6. Our CEO is prominent in the (index) of quite a few business texts.
    (indexes) In this case, the preferred plural adds “es.” Another example is appendix-appendixes. Traditionally, though, nouns of this type change the ending “ex” or “ix” to “ices” to form the plural (index-indices, appendix-appendices). Other examples: matrix-matrices, vertex-vertices
  7. Perhaps economic recovery will be possible after the (embargo) are lifted.
    (embargoes) Add “es” to form this plural. Other examples: echo-echoes, hero-heroes, tomato-tomatoes
  8. HR sifted through some impressive (vita) to find the top three candidates for the position.
    (vitae) Add “e” to the final “a” to form this plural. Other examples: vertebra-vertebrae, antenna-antennae
  9. The prefab building arrived on-site in two (half).
    (halves) Change the final “f” to “v” and add “es” to form this plural. Another example: calf-calves

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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