Category Archive for ‘Proofreading & Editing’

Grammar Judgments

The Internet is filled with lists of misused words, but I found this one from Inc.com especially post-worthy.

I rarely use “whom” when I should. Even when spell check suggests “whom,” I think it sounds pretentious. So I don’t use it.

And I’m sure some people then think, “What a bozo.”

And that’s a problem, because just like that one misspelled word that gets a resumé tossed into the “nope” pile, using one wrong word can negatively impact your entire message.

Fair or unfair, it happens.

The author is right. People do judge you for grammar mistakes and misspellings, and Inc.’s article lists some of the biggest culprits (adverse/averse, elicit/illicit, and insure/ensure, to name a few). Check it out to find which ones you may be using incorrectly and follow the tips for how to remember the correct usage.

But why did I find this particular list worthy of a link?

Is Cyber-English Appropriate on the Job?

Have you ever found yourself typing “LOL” when writing to a client or employee and then decided against it? Are you unsure about using emoticons, abbreviations, or truncated sentences when sending emails or texts from your phone?

With today’s high speed messaging—email, status updates, instant messages, texts—many people are asking whether there’s now a place for breaking traditional grammar rules in business communication. Are emoticons, abbreviations, and truncated sentences ever appropriate at work?

How to Develop a Great Presentation

by Hannah Comerford, Scribe Contributor

Have you ever sat through a poor PowerPoint presentation? Chances are you grew bored and distracted, your eyes strained from trying to read the slides, or you gave up on note-taking after your hand started cramping.

Can you remember sitting through a great presentation? If it was particularly well prepared, you probably still remember the key points, and you may even implement the information in your daily life. You left the presentation feeling connected to the speaker, whether you agreed with all the points or not.

Which category do your presentations fall into? Are they lackluster or brilliant? Whether you’re a pastor, a nonprofit coordinator, or a businesswoman, you want your presentations to deliver an impactful message. Take a look at the following steps to boost your presentation’s impact.

An Autocorrect Win

The jury may still be out on whether or not autocorrect on a smartphone is actually helpful, but here is one autocorrect application I think we can definitely put in the “Win” column.

Syntellia, a startup company founded by entrepreneur Kostas Eleftheriou and his business partner Ioannis Verdelis, set out to build a better predictive-typing app for the iPhone. This article from Fast Company highlights their accomplishment:

The result is Fleksy, an iPhone app that uses artificial intelligence to figure out what your fat fingers tried to spell on that tiny touch-screen keyboard. And when Verdelis says “type without looking,” he really means it: Fleksy’s first version is specifically for the blind.

Those of us who are not vision-impaired should be wary of relying too much on autocorrect when sending messages via smartphone. Most of us have probably seen some of the outrageously funny—or maybe just outrageous—examples of autocorrect gone bad, which are in such plentitude there is now a whole website devoted to them. Though it was designed to prevent errors, autocorrect can also create embarrassing mistakes.

But for those in greater need of the technology, Flesky is an autocorrect win.

When to Break Your English Teacher’s Rules

by Hannah Comerford, Scribe Contributor

Today is National Teacher Day, a day to celebrate our teachers and their hard work. What our teachers taught us in English class is now a part of our subconscious, and we use the rules we learned in our everyday lives. Whether you liked diagramming sentences or hated spelling bees, your early lessons laid a foundation for your business writing.

However, as we grew older, the rules started to change. “I before E, except after C” added the stipulation, “or when sounded as A, as in neighbor and weigh.” Before long we realized that this didn’t even cover everything, and we simply gave up on the mnemonic altogether (at least I did!). Perhaps you’ve noticed this shift with other elementary school grammar rules: they’re often broken in the adult professional world. Why is this?

10 Word Slipups to Avoid

by Ashley Smith, Scribe Contributor

“How often misused words generate misleading thoughts.”   – Herbert Spencer, English philosopher (1820-1903)

As much as I’d like to think I have a way with words, I admit to the occasional slipup. Just the other day I sent an email to someone asking if I could “site” something she had said, rather than “cite” it. It wasn’t until after I’d sent the email that I recognized my error.

Sometimes our writing mistakes are things we would catch with closer review. Other times, we may not know or remember the correct usage or spelling. Add to this the fact that so much of what we read on the Internet is not formally edited, and we are also in danger of perpetuating the mistakes made by others.

Thankfully, my communication with this person was not business related. Had it been, my credibility likely would have been damaged. Although it is sometimes acceptable to intentionally misuse a word for the sake of great copy, careless mistakes or errors of ignorance can, as Herbert Spencer put it, “generate misleading thoughts.” Or worse yet, they can cost you a client.

Below are ten examples of commonly misused words. Are you guilty of misusing any of them?

Eliminate Wordy Phrases and Modifiers

Writing Concisely (Part 4)

by Ashley Smith

Just as almost everyone is guilty of the occasional redundancy, so too are most people guilty of using wordy phrases and modifiers in their communication. These extra words are often overlooked in colloquial speech; however, they should be avoided as much as possible in writing.

A wordy phrase is any clause or part of a sentence that can be reduced to a shorter clause or to one word (see one set of examples here: 30 Wordy Phrases Beginning with “In”). A modifier is a word or phrase that describes another and can often be deleted without affecting the sentence meaning, such as very, extremely, early, etc. Eliminating wordy phrases and modifiers will keep your business correspondence clear, concise, and professional.

Take a look at these wordy sentences and their revisions below:

Avoid Redundancies in Your Business Writing

Writing Concisely (Part 3)

by Ashley Smith

How many times have you heard or seen an advertisement saying, “And as an added bonus you’ll receive . . .”?

Notice anything strange about this phrase? Aren’t bonuses already an addition to something? Using the word “added” with “bonus” creates a redundancy. Part 3 of our Writing Concisely series addresses how to cut redundancies from your writing to create clarity and conciseness.

Most of us don’t notice redundancies when they’re spoken (which is often and by almost everyone, regardless of profession or level of education). We are also accustomed to seeing them in ads, where they are used to emphasize a point. But one place you should not ignore redundancies is in your (non-ad) business writing.

Clear and succinct business writing makes its point without having to emphasize it. Redundancies clutter your content, adding to your word count unnecessarily and stealing more of your readers’ time.

Here are some of the most common redundancies you should avoid:

Fewer Nouns and a Lot More Action

Writing Concisely (Part 2)

by Ashley Smith & Lori Baxter

In Part 1 of our Writing Concisely series, we talked about the importance of concise writing and how you can show consideration for your reader’s time and ease by cutting your word count. Parts 2-4 will highlight specific ways to make your business writing more concise.

One tip that can be of assistance in keeping  your business writing more concise is to avoid the frequency by which nouns and passive verb tenses are used.

Not only is the above sentence confusing, it ignores the very tip it’s giving. Let’s try again, cutting our word count from 28 to 12:

Keep your business writing concise by limiting nouns and passive verb tenses.

What’s wrong with nouns?

The point is not to avoid all nouns; after all, nouns are an essential building block of writing. However, many of the nouns we use in our business writing are adapted from a verb. The verb version usually requires fewer words and is more engaging than its noun equivalent, but many business writers still choose the wordier noun version, making their writing less interesting and harder to read.

The Rules of Spring

It’s the second day of spring and we were happy to see the sun come out in Seattle! (So happy that I took off a little early and went to Pike Place Market.)

It’s a fitting time to remember the rules of capitalization for the seasons. Winter, spring, summer, and fall/autumn are all lowercased except when used to denote an issue of a publication (e.g., the Spring 2011 issue of a company newsletter or other publication).

Other exceptions would be when the word begins a sentence (such as “Winter” in the previous sentence) or is part of the title of a work (The Torrents of Spring by Ernest Hemingway).

Lowercase rules also apply for spring equinox and winter solstice.

Hope you are all enjoying the longer days and glimpses of sunshine after a long, cold winter. Happy spring!

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