April 14
April 2015  
UpWrite Press Writing eTips

Test Your Writing Acumen

Spelling can be tricky, yet if you know and follow a few common rules, you can often figure out the correct spelling of a word. In this issue of eTips, you can test your knowledge of spelling rules involving “e” by choosing the correct word in parentheses for the following sentences.

  1. The hall was (ornatly, ornately) decorated, but in a tasteful way.
  2. We knew the information would be very (valuable, valueable) in the long run.
  3. The clinic has (studyed, studied) the proposal to purchase an open-design MRI machine.
  4. I picked up my (niece, neice) at the airport this morning.
  5. Sal has already turned in the (receipt, reciept) for his expenses.
  6. We’ve already unloaded the (frieght, freight) that came in yesterday.

You can check your answers at the end of this newsletter.

Making Your Written Words Sound Professional

Whether you’re creating ad copy, proposals, letters, or emails, your writing should have a professional tone. That means it should sound serious but accessible, easy to read but not condescending, friendly but not trendy. Here are some tips for creating clean, professional-sounding documents.

  • Lose the slang. Avoid trendy language that will quickly sound dated. This is especially important in materials that will have an international audience. Idioms and cultural references may be lost on readers who aren’t native English speakers. Also shun industry jargon, unless your reader is well versed in that terminology.
  • Avoid clichés. Buzz words, catch phrases, and slogans quickly become dated and boring. They can make your writing sound unoriginal instead of fresh. It’s better to use standard language that simply and clearly presents your message.
  • Use active voice. Allow the subjects of your sentences to perform the action. Instead of “The meeting was held at 9:00 a.m.,” write “The meeting started at 9:00 a.m.” Not only will your writing sound more dynamic, it will also be more concise.
  • Be specific. Avoid general, unclear, or pretentious nouns, verbs, and adjectives. Simple language delivers content directly. Ostentatious, abstruse verbiage stops communication.
  • Get to the point. Avoid rambling sentences that hide your main ideas. Arrange sentences so one flows naturally into the next, carrying your readers smoothly along.
  • Target your readers’ expertise. Keep in mind what your readers already know or don’t know about your subject; then write to that level of detail.
  • Consider your relationship with the reader. A letter to an old friend or longtime associate warrants less formal language than one to a new business contact.

You can find more on creative an effective visual presentation beginning on page 25 in Write for Business: A Compact Guide to Writing and Communicating in the Workplace.

Trainer Tips

One way to improve employee writing is to establish a “tip for the week.” You might post this at visible locations in the workplace or send it as an email. Tips can run the gamut from common spelling errors—What’s the difference between “their” and “there”?—to reminders about good habits—Please keep a dictionary on your desktop, and use it. Publish tips on bright backgrounds and use clip art to make them fun to read and easy to remember.

That Little Extra

Sometimes it’s a good idea to ask your clients and customers, “How are we doing?” A survey can be a great way to get feedback as well as to advertise. Keep surveys short—no more than 10 questions—and build in an easy way to respond. At the end, provide contact information and invite additional feedback. If possible, send a follow-up note to personally thank responders. This ongoing communication can help increase customer loyalty.

   

April 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.

Many businesses use slogans or logos as a catchy way to indicate their purpose. How was your company’s motto or logo developed? What did you want in this identifier, and what did you want to avoid? Please share your experiences.

Email your response to contact@upwritepress.com. Write “April 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. The hall was (ornatly, ornately) decorated, but in a tasteful way. Keep the silent “e” when adding a suffix that begins with a consonant.
  2. We knew the information would be very (valuable, valueable) in the long run. Drop the silent “e” when adding a suffix that begins with a vowel.
  3. The clinic has (studyed, studied) the proposal to purchase an open-design MRI machine. When a final “y” is preceded by a consonant, change the “y” to “i” before adding any suffix (except “ing”).
  4. I picked up my (niece, neice) at the airport this morning. Use “i” before “e” except after “c.”
  5. Sal has already turned in the (reciept, receipt) for his expenses. Use “i” before “e” except after “c.”
  6. We’ve unloaded the (frieght, freight) that came in yesterday. Here’s the final piece of the “i” before “e” rule. When the vowel pair makes the long “a” sound, as in the words “neighbor” or “weigh,” use “e” before “i.”

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 February

Making Your Written Words Sound Professional

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