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  • feedwordpress 16:30:13 on 2017/11/16 Permalink
    Tags: Writing and Grammar   

    5 Common Writing Mistakes to Watch Out For 

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    by Barbara McNichol

    What can professional editors tell you about improving your business writing? Consider these five mistakes every conscientious administrator should watch out for as you craft and revise your messages (especially your emails and marketing copy).

    Mistake #1: Addressing readers as readers (plural) rather than a single key person whose interest you want to capture. Reading is a solitary pastime that occurs one person at a time. The fix? Keep a single interested person in your target audience top of mind as you write.

    Mistake #2: Using a long noun phrase when one active verb will do. The fix? Whenever possible, get an active verb to do the “work” of the sentence. Instead of writing, “the examination of the report was done by the director,” change the noun phrase to a verb and rewrite the whole sentence. “The director examined the report.” This changed passive construction to active, reduced word count, and delivers your message more directly.

    Mistake #3: Having no rhyme or reason to the order of the paragraphs. The fix? Once you’ve crafted a solid, compelling opening, think through how the flow of your main points will best guide your reader logically to your desired conclusion. If possible, test the result with colleagues or actual readers who will give you honest feedback.

    Mistake #4: Writing sentences that ramble (on and on and on and on). The fix? Limit sentences to 15-21 words max. Be sure to vary sentence length for added interest.

    Mistake #5: Flat-out choosing the wrong word. Yes, in English, it’s easy to confuse certain common words such as “advice” instead of “advise” (among hundreds more). The fix? Reply on a comprehensive writing resource to help you select the perfect word when it really matters.

    What common writing mistakes would you add to this list? Reply here.

    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 5 Common Writing Mistakes to Watch Out For appeared first on Office Dynamics.

     
  • feedwordpress 19:58:43 on 2017/11/03 Permalink
    Tags: , Writing and Grammar   

    Magic Trick to Cut Down on Wordiness 

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    Want a Magic Trick to Cut Down on Wordiness?

    by Barbara McNichol

    Ever wonder how to make your sentences less verbose and more direct?

    Here’s a trick that works like magic: Change long nouns to short verbs.

    Consider the differences in these three examples from a nonfiction manuscript I edited:

    • “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.”

    Pay attention to these examples. They show how 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 you edit your own work, use this “magic” trick often. What a difference this one technique can make! Try it for yourself.

    Action: Identify “ion” and “ment” words in your writing, then rewrite them using a lively verb. Send your examples here.

     

    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 Magic Trick to Cut Down on Wordiness appeared first on Office Dynamics.

     
  • feedwordpress 18:03:10 on 2017/10/23 Permalink
    Tags: , Writing and Grammar   

    Tap into the Power of “3” in Your Writing 

    writing_tipsby Barbara McNichol

    Our society loves “3”; we remember things in “3s”; we’ve learned it from kindergarten when we were told to hop, skip, jump and stop, look, and listen.

    Businesses gravitate toward “3” when they create marketing taglines. Look at these examples:

    • Reduce, reuse, recycle (recycle guide)
    • Buy it. Sell it. Love it. (eBay)
    • Grace, space, pace. (Jaguar)

    How can you improve your writing by tapping into the power of “3”? Consider this example from a newsletter. The rewrite flows better because of the three-part rhythm brought into play.

    Before:
    You are free to choose, create and live the life you want if you are willing to investigate, make changes, update your protective strategies, be honest with yourself, and invest in what it takes to continue growing. (37 words)

    After:
    You are free to choose, create, and live the life you want. (12 words)

    That works if you are willing to investigate, update your strategies with honesty, and invest in continuing to grow. (20 words)

    Also, notice how the long-winded sentence of 37 words was broken into two shorter sentences with breathing space between. Ah, much easier for readers to follow.

    How can you tap into the power of “3” in your writing? Keep this question top of mind 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 Tap into the Power of “3” in Your Writing appeared first on Office Dynamics.

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

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

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    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.

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

     
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