Full service solutions at Coles Marketing image

The News Chair

Less Is More In Writing

Barbara Coles

Barbara Coles

“Due to the fact that the fundamental concern is that the faulty automobile is not operational at the present time, it affords us the opportunity to travel by foot; therefore, we shall endeavor to do so until such time as the automobile is function.”

Or, in other words: “Since the basic problem is that the car doesn’t work right now, it gives us the chance to walk; so we’ll walk until the car works again.”

Or, in even fewer words: “Since the car doesn’t work, we’ll walk.”

While this example is an exaggeration, it does show that, in most cases, “less is truly more” when it comes to writing. Standard business writing – such as in letters, memos and other semi-formal documents – does not have to be overblown and official sounding. After all, the purpose of writing is to communicate, and if no one understands what you are trying to say, then vital communication is lost. Smaller, more precise words are better for accurate communication. They speed up the reading process, and they leave less confusion in the reader’s mind.

A general rule of thumb is to “write as you would speak.” After all, would you really use phrases like “in accordance with,” “afford an opportunity,” “attached herewith is,” and “until such time as” in your daily conversation?

In an effort to assist you with eliminating unnecessary words from your writing, we have assembled a list of additional fundamental phrases that you may utilize (or, “To help you cut extra words from your writing, here’s a list of other basic words you can use.” See how easy this is?)

Key Words and Phrases to Clear Writing

Instead of:

Try:

Additional

More, other

Advantageous

Helpful

Advise

Recommend, tell

Afford an opportunity

Allow, let

Anticipate

Expect

A number of

Some

Appreciable

Many

Attached herewith is

 Here’s

By means of

By, with

Close proximity

Near

Component

Part

Concerning

About, on

Concur

Agree

Contains

Has

Contribute

Give

Currently

(leave out word)

Deem

Think

Designate

Appoint, choose, name, pick

Determine

Decide, figure, find

Disseminate

Issue, send out

Due to the fact

Since

Echelons

Levels

Effect

Make

Eliminate

Cut, drop, end

Ensure

Make sure

Expedite

Hurry, rush, speed up

Facilitate

Ease, help

Factor

Reason

Has the capability

Can

However

But

In an effort to

To

Inception

Start

Initiate

Start

In order that

To

In the amount of

For

It is requested

Please

Maintain

Keep, support

Nebulous

Vague

Necessitate

Cause, need

Objective

Aim, goal

Observe

See

Previously

Before

Provide

Give, say, supply

Recapitulate

Sum up

Relating to

About, on

Solicit

Ask for

Therefore

So

Until such time as

Until

Utilize, utilization

Use

Viable

Workable

Warrant

Call for, permit

Whereas

Since

With reference to

About

With the exception of

Except for

This is only a partial list, of course. The key to solid, clear writing is to review and revise as much as you can, and then revise some more. Remember, the easier your writing is to understand, the more effective you will be.

Share

Edit this post

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: Tags: , , , , , ,

Take Note: Good Writing Still Matters

Texting_keyboard_LARGE

According to We Are Social’s 2014 Global Digital Statistics, 2.5 billion people are online, and 1.8 billion are on social networks.

 

In June 2012, more than 423 billion texts were sent that month, as noted by Statistic Brain. Multiple hours are spent daily typing on desktop and mobile devices, through email, texting and social media.

 

Tiffany Whisner

Tiffany Whisner

BTW, I’m lost in translation

When people often text and type in shorthand, such as “BRB” (be right back) and “LOL” (laughing out loud), is it any wonder that proper grammar gets lost in translation?

 

Some suggest polished writing isn’t necessary anymore. It’s more about getting your point across. But as Amy Hourigan says in her blog, “Do you think your boss will take you seriously if you email, ‘I want 2 c u to talk about a promotion?’”

 

She writes about 75% of hiring managers said a grammar or spelling error on a job application is worse than showing up late to an interview. And Andrew Clarke says in an Entrepreneur article, when investors see a business plan “with spelling, punctuation and grammar errors, they immediately wonder what else is wrong with the business.”

 

Make grammar your thing

Whether you are penning a long-form article or blog, use correct grammar to let others know you aren’t ignorant of the rules … or just ignorant.

 

Here are some tips from ShortStack in Kristin Piombino’s PR Daily article and from Jon Gingerich in his LitReactor column:

 

  1. Lay vs. Lie: Lay is a transitive verb that requires a subject and one or more objects. Lie is an intransitive verb that needs no object.

Example: Lay – I lay the pencil on the table. Yesterday I laid the pencil on the table. Lie – The Andes Mountains lie between Chile and Argentina. The man lay waiting for an ambulance.

Note: The most common mistake occurs when the writer uses the past tense of the word lay (I laid on the bed) when he/she actually means the past tense of lie (I lay on the bed).

  1. Further vs. Farther: Further is used to indicate figurative distance. Farther is used to indicate physical distance.

Example: If you complain further about Google+, I will move my desk farther away.

  1. I vs. Me: I is used when the pronoun is the subject of a verb. Me is used when the pronoun is the object of a verb.

Example: Sara and I are attending Social Media Marketing World this year. Can you attend Social Media Marketing World with Sara and me?

Note: It is never correct to say “Sara and I’s favorite social media event.” Instead, you would say “Sara’s and my.”

  1. I.e. vs. e.g.: i.e. is an abbreviation of the Latin phrase meaning “that is.” Use i.e. to help explain what you said but in a different way. E.g. is an abbreviation of the Latin phrase meaning “for example.”

Example: Social media networks, e.g. Facebook and Twitter, have made it possible for customers to communicate directly with brands, i.e. allowing them to critique and compliment in a public forum.

  1. Whether vs. If: Many people assume “whether” is interchangeable with “if.” It isn’t. Whether expresses a condition where there are two or more alternatives. If expresses a condition with no alternatives.

Example: I don’t know whether I’ll see a movie tonight. I’ll see a movie tonight if I have money for a ticket.

 

Right the wrongs, IMHO

We all make grammar and punctuation errors. But don’t let these errors be a reflection of you or your business’s professionalism, creativity and attention to detail … or lack thereof.

 

Coles Marketing can be your second set of eyes. Contact us today!

Share

Edit this post

Categories: 2014 May Newsletter, Newsletters | Tags: Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

New Year, Same Word Blunders

Words

How many words are in the English language? Well, that’s a bit difficult to answer. Do you count noun and verb versions of the word? Do you count slang or abbreviations?

According to Oxford Dictionaries, the Second Edition of the 20-volume “Oxford English Dictionary” has full entries for 171,476 words in current use, plus 47,156 obsolete words. There’s also 9,500 derivative words … gulp. That’s, at the very least, a quarter of a million distinct English words.

Tiffany Whisner

Tiffany Whisner

No wonder there are so many different rules … or exceptions to those rules … for language usage!

 

Word danger ahead

Here are a few commonly misunderstood words that may trip you up, according to Laura Hale Brockway on Ragan.com:

1.    Capital, capitol: Capital is the city where the seat of government is located; also money, equipment, or property. Capitol refers to the building in which a legislative body meets.

2.    Disc, disk: Use disc for terms related to recordings, such as Blu-ray disc or disc jockey. Also, disc brakes. Use disk for computer-related and medical references, such as hard disk and slipped disk.

3.    Flier, flyer: According to the AP Stylebook, flier is the preferred term for a handbill or leaflet. Flyer is the proper name of some trains or buses.

4.    Lectern, podium: A lectern is a stand that serves as a support for the notes or books of a speaker. A podium is an elevated platform to stand on when speaking.

5.    Premier, premiere: Premier means first in importance; principal or chief. Premiere means a first performance.

6.    Rack, wrack: The verb form of rack means to arrange on a rack, to torture, or torment. The noun form of wrack means ruins or destruction.

 

One or two … who knows?

And what about those tricky cases of whether a phrase is one word or two? According to Brockway, a recent article in the “Columbia Journalism Review offered the following guidelines:

  • The one-word form is usually an adjective or adverb.
  • The two-word form is usually a two-word phrase not modifying anything.
  • When in doubt, say the expression out loud.

The following are some less clear-cut word pairs.

1. Already/all ready:

We don’t want to confuse them any more than we already have.

(In this case, already is used as an adverb.)

Are you all ready for the writing test?

(All ready is a phrase meaning thoroughly prepared.)

 

2. Altogether/all together:

She is altogether the worst writer I have ever seen.

(Altogether is an adjective meaning entirely.)

We were all together for the CEO’s announcement.

(All together is a phrase meaning all there.)

 

3. Anyone/any one:

Anyone can make that mistake.

(Anyone is a pronoun, meaning anybody.)

Any one of you might be next.

(Any one is a phrase. Any serves as an adjective and one serves as a noun.)

 

4. Anytime/any time:

You are welcome to consult the style guide anytime.

(Anytime is an adjective and can be replaced with whenever.)

Do you have any time to edit this article?

(Any time is another two-word adjective-noun form.)

 

5. Backup/back up:

There was a backup on the toll road this morning.

(The one word form means a stoppage or overflow.)

The police officer told the driver to back up.

(The two-word phrase means to go in reverse.)

 

6. Maybe/may be:

Maybe you should quit while you’re ahead.

(Maybe is an adverb meaning perhaps.)

It may be that the style guide was wrong.

(May be functions as a verb.)

 

These are just a handful of examples that you may come across in your daily reading and writing. Cheers to 2014 and a year of learning lessons in language!

Share

Edit this post

Categories: 2014 January Newsletter, Newsletters | Tags: Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,