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  • feedwordpress 17:05:33 on 2017/09/29 Permalink
    Tags: , Writing and Grammar   

    When “Start to” and “Decide to” Creep into Your Writing 

    writing_tips

    by Barbara McNichol

    Do you have a habit of starting a sentence with the word “start” or “begin”? In a 5,000-word document I recently edited, those two words appeared 14 times, while only five were deemed necessary to the meaning. That’s a lot of extra words!

    To be more direct in your writing, skip the “start/begin” part and employ the phrase Nike made famous: Just do it!

    These examples show how you can write a stronger statement by going straight to the action verb rather than “beginning” to go for it.

    Example 1: Slowly begin to approach your teammate with your idea.

    Better: Slowly approach your teammate with your idea.

    Example 2: Start to make an agenda for the meeting.

    Better: Make an agenda for the meeting.

    Whenever you write “start to” or “begin to,” question it. Ask: Is “start” or “begin” essential to the meaning of the sentence? Chances are you can glide straight to the action verb without it!

    Similarly, watch out for “decide to” in your writing. Which verb carries more weight in this example sentence, “decide” or “launch”?

    Example: The president decided to launch the company’s implementation strategy next month.

    Better: The president will launch the company’s implementation strategy next month.

    Do you see how “decide” doesn’t add meaning while “launch” is vital to the message? When you catch yourself writing “decide,” ask: Is it needed?

    Make crisp, clear messages your goal with everything you write.

    Barbara McNichol is passionate about helping administration professionals add power to their pen. To assist in this mission, she has created a Word Trippers Tips resource so you can quickly find the right word when it matters most. It allows you to improve your writing through excellent weekly resources in your inbox, including a Word Tripper of the Week for 52 weeks. Details at www.wordtrippers.com/odi

    The post When “Start to” and “Decide to” Creep into Your Writing appeared first on Office Dynamics.

     
  • feedwordpress 13:45:26 on 2017/04/28 Permalink
    Tags: , Writing and Grammar   

    In Your Writing, Know the Meaning of “Absolute” 

    This is part of a series by editor Barbara McNichol to provide tips for writing like a pro.

    Ever heard someone say “his bucket is emptier (or more empty) than mine”?

    How can something be emptier than empty?

    The same holds true for all “absolute” words. In grammar, “absolute” means it can’t be compared. That is, you would never use “less” or “more” in front of these absolute words:

    • perfect
    • final
    • first/last
    • complete
    • universal
    • destroyed
    • invisible
    • dead
    • unique
    • total
    • impossible
    • pregnant
    • ultimate
    • fatal

    Consider the word “destroyed.” If a hurricane sweeps through a small town, it’s tempting to say, “Our town was destroyed.” But be careful. Destroyed is an absolute that means totally, completely gone; it doesn’t exist anymore—no streets, no rubble, no fences standing. Chances are the more accurate word is “damage.” So watch out for absolutes, clarify their true meaning, and use them correctly.

    Your challenge: What other absolute words can you add to this list? Write them down.

    Today’s Word Tripper from Word Trippers Tips:

    Testimony, testimonial – A “testimony” is a declaration or affirmation of fact, such as given before a court. A “testimonial” is a formal or written statement affirming a truth. “The strong testimony he gave in court could be regarded as a testimonial to her strong character.”


    When you know how to write with precision, your professional reputation builds and your career can soar. Barbara McNichol is passionate about helping business professionals add power to their pen. To assist in this mission, she has created an annual subscription program called Word Trippers Tips. It features 52 Word Trippers of the Week, a webinar, crossword puzzle, writing tips, and the ebook Word Trippers: The Ultimate Source for Choosing the Right Word When It Really Matters. Details at www.WordTrippers.com/odi.

    This blog is part of our 2017 Blog-A-Thon. Please leave a comment or share the blog for your chance to win one of our amazing giveaways! The more blogs you comment on and share, the more chances you have to win. If you’d like to learn more about our Blog-A-Thon you can do so here. Hint: Subscribe to our blog in the upper right-hand corner so you never miss a blog.

    administrative_assistant_conference

    The post In Your Writing, Know the Meaning of “Absolute” appeared first on Office Dynamics.

     
  • feedwordpress 17:00:23 on 2017/04/18 Permalink
    Tags: , Writing and Grammar   

    Take Extra Words Out of Your Writing and Add Clarity 

    writing_tipsTo Whack Wordiness, Delete Wobbly Words

    This is part of a series by editor Barbara McNichol to provide tips for writing like a pro.

    To take extra words out of your writing and add clarity, the easiest approach is to attack wobbly words. What do I mean by wobbly words?

    Well, they’re words that are vague, indefinite, and don’t add much to the meaning of a sentence. In fact, they can add word clutter your paragraphs and detract from what you strive to say.

    In their classic guide The Elements of Style, Strunk and White call word clutter “the leeches that infest the pond of prose, sucking the blood out of words.” Count the following six wobbly words among the word clutter culprits!

    Whack these from your writing whenever you can:

    • really   “I really think it’s time to go.” (extraneous)
    • some   “We rely on some three long-standing methods.” (state a number instead)
    • quite a few   “We have quite a few 12 new people at work.” (be specific)
    • very   “Get ready to do a very an extremely good job.” (overused; be descriptive!)
    • that   “Find information that you can apply easily.” (often unneeded)
    • much   “Jobs posted on the Internet reach a much larger audience than those in newspaper ads.” (“much” doesn’t add much, right?)

    Your challenge: Go back to the beginning of your email, letter, or article and circle all instances of these wobbly words. Then replace them with more descriptive alternatives.

    Today’s Word Tripper from Word Trippers Tips:

    That, who – “That” relates to things while “who” relates to people. “I have a friend who did me a favor, one that I greatly appreciated.”


    When you know how to write with precision, your professional reputation builds and your career can soar. Barbara McNichol is passionate about helping business professionals add power to their pen. To assist in this mission, she has created an annual subscription program called Word Trippers Tips. It features 52 Word Trippers of the Week, a webinar, crossword puzzle, writing tips, and the ebook Word Trippers: The Ultimate Source for Choosing the Right Word When It Really Matters. Details at www.WordTrippers.com/odi.

    This blog is part of our 2017 Blog-A-Thon. Please leave a comment or share the blog for your chance to win one of our amazing giveaways! The more blogs you comment on and share, the more chances you have to win. If you’d like to learn more about our Blog-A-Thon you can do so here. Hint: Subscribe to our blog in the upper right-hand corner so you never miss a blog.

    administrative_assistant_conference

    The post Take Extra Words Out of Your Writing and Add Clarity appeared first on Office Dynamics.

     
  • feedwordpress 13:45:33 on 2017/04/14 Permalink
    Tags: , Writing and Grammar   

    Cut Word Clutter: Get Rid of Tag-ons and Redundancies 

    This is part of a series by editor Barbara McNichol to provide tips for writing like a pro.

    Let’s say you have to fill out a form online and you’re restricted to 100 words. You absolutely cannot add one more word; the system won’t allow it.

    So you work it the best you can, but what can you search for in your quest to meet the magic number of words? Tag-ons and redundancies (which aren’t needed, anyway).

    In these tag-ons, you can get rid of the second word. It’s tagging along, not adding meaning:

    • continue on
    • ramble on
    • refer back to
    • open up
    • cancel out
    • follow on
    • send out
    • start out
    • finish up

    Watch out for these common redundancies:

    • grouped together
    • add more
    • still persist
    • continue to remain
    • plan ahead
    • sum total

    With many redundancies, you might select one or the other. For example, would you write “sum” or “total”? Look at the context and make your choice. Just know that using both—“sum total”—is unnecessary.

    Your challenge: Question every phrase you think may be redundant and experiment each of the words separately. Which one is better in context? Choose one, not both.

    Today’s Word Tripper from Word Trippers Tips:

    Comment, commentary – A “comment” is a brief statement of fact or opinion. “Commentary” is one or more statements (written or oral) containing opinions, explanations or interpretations. “The announcer’s sarcastic comment about the team’s losing streak punctuated his commentary about the players’ poor skills.” Also, “commentary” refers to anything that makes a point or provides a perspective. “The neighborhood’s high crime rate is a sad commentary on failed social programs.”


    When you know how to write with precision, your professional reputation builds and your career can soar. Barbara McNichol is passionate about helping business professionals add power to their pen. To assist in this mission, she has created an annual subscription program called Word Trippers Tips. It features 52 Word Trippers of the Week, a webinar, crossword puzzle, writing tips, and the ebook Word Trippers: The Ultimate Source for Choosing the Right Word When It Really Matters. Details at www.WordTrippers.com/odi.

    This blog is part of our 2017 Blog-A-Thon. Please leave a comment or share the blog for your chance to win one of our amazing giveaways! The more blogs you comment on and share, the more chances you have to win. If you’d like to learn more about our Blog-A-Thon you can do so here. Hint: Subscribe to our blog in the upper right-hand corner so you never miss a blog.

    administrative_assistant_conference

    The post Cut Word Clutter: Get Rid of Tag-ons and Redundancies appeared first on Office Dynamics.

     
  • feedwordpress 17:00:14 on 2017/04/04 Permalink
    Tags: , Writing and Grammar   

    Writing Tips: Replace Long Noun Phrases with Short Verbs 

    writing_tips_for_assistants

    This is part of a series by editor Barbara McNichol to provide tips for writing like a pro.

    Ever wonder how to make your sentences less verbose and more direct? This works like magic: Change long nouns to short verbs. Consider the differences in these examples from a manual:

    “They remain in contradiction with themselves” vs. “They contradict themselves.”

    “He made an acknowledgment of her success” vs. “He acknowledged her success.”

    “We get closer to the implementation of leadership practices” vs. “We get closer to implementing leadership practices.”

    In this way, you can increase readability by turning a long-winded “heavy” phrase into an active “lively” verb. What clues do you look for? Nouns ending in “ion” and “ment.”

    Whatever I’m editing, I’m using this “magic” trick dozens of times a day. What a difference this one technique makes. Try it for yourself.

    Your challenge: Focus on finding “ion” and “ment” words, then rewrite them using a lively verb.

    Today’s Word Tripper from Word Trippers Tips:j

    Comprise, compose – “Comprise” refers to the whole that has a number of parts while “compose” refers to the parts making up a whole. It’s correct to say, “The book is composed (made up) of four short stories.” It’s incorrect to say, “The book is comprised of 22 chapters.” Instead, say, “The book comprises (consists of) 22 chapters.”


    When you know how to write with precision, your professional reputation builds and your career can soar. Barbara McNichol is passionate about helping business professionals add power to their pen. To assist in this mission, she has created an annual subscription program called Word Trippers Tips. It features 52 Word Trippers of the Week, a webinar, crossword puzzle, writing tips, and the ebook Word Trippers: The Ultimate Source for Choosing the Right Word When It Really Matters. Details at www.WordTrippers.com/odi.

    This blog is part of our 2017 Blog-A-Thon. Please leave a comment or share the blog for your chance to win one of our amazing giveaways! The more blogs you comment on and share, the more chances you have to win. If you’d like to learn more about our Blog-A-Thon you can do so here. Hint: Subscribe to our blog in the upper right-hand corner so you never miss a blog.

    administrative_assistant_conference

    The post Writing Tips: Replace Long Noun Phrases with Short Verbs appeared first on Office Dynamics.

     
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