Gini Dietrich

Six Tips for Better Business Writing

By: Gini Dietrich | July 22, 2015 | 
217

Six Tips for Better Business Writing

By Gini Dietrich

A couple of months ago, my baby sister, Laney, who is my only sister and who has four children, texted me to say that her oldest, my 13-year-old niece was dying because she had texted LOL to her.

My niece said, “I can’t believe my mom said LOL!” As if my sister is older than dirt and completely clueless about anything hip and cool (ah, teenagers).

Now we have a running joke where we use #mymomsaidlol when something strikes us as hilarious.

Fast forward to earlier this week and I received a text that said, “What r u doing?”

I said, “Is this Bella?”

Laney responded, “No.”

I said, “Y r u texting me like u r 13?”

And, of course, she responded with, “#mymomsaidlol.”

It’s funny because it’s true, but it also drives me INSANE.

We Have Become Lazy

In today’s text, Twitter, social media world, people are getting more and more lazy about their grammar and spelling, according to This Embarrasses You and I*.

The article begins with this story:

When Caren Berg told colleagues at a recent staff meeting, “There’s new people you should meet,” her boss Don Silver broke in. “I cringe every time I hear” people misuse “is” for “are,” Mr. Silver says. He also hammers interns to stop peppering sentences with “like.” For years, he imposed a 25-cent fine on new hires for each offense. “I am losing the battle.”

And it’s not just Mr. Silver who is losing the battle. Companies across the country are fighting the same and it’s becoming an epidemic.

Schools have stopped teaching cursive handwriting. That makes sense, of course, as many of us no longer write longhand. But, along with it comes shorthand acronyms—LOL, WTH*$, 2nite, <3, AISI, IMO, OMG —and they’re all reaching corporate world communications.

Heck, they had to create an entire dictionary on the lingo so those of us who didn’t grow up in the text world know how to understand what’s being said.

Homework in Text

It’s not just affecting the business world. According to BBC News, students are turning in homework completely written in text.

My smmr hols wr CWOT. B4, we used 2go2 NY 2C my bro, his GF & thr 3 :- kids FTF. ILNY, it’s a gr8 plc.

It’s fairly easy to figure out this person went to NY to see her brother and his family during summer break, but it certainly takes more energy and thought to figure out what message is being delivered.

If this is how your customers and prospects are being communicated to/with, do you think they’re going to want to do business with you?

But it’s not just text speak that is bringing down business writing and communications. Most don’t know the difference between their, they’re, and there or its and it’s.

Six Tips for Better Business Writing

Following are six tips for better business writing. And, if you’re so inclined, for better social media status updates, too.

  1. Always use spell check. Internet browsers, content management systems, Pages, Word, and most software have spell check built in. Use it!
  2. Cut down on text slang. We all use LOL or OMG or WTH with the best of them, but particularly in business writing, spell out your acronyms. You don’t say LOL when you speak. Don’t write it, either.
  3. Know the difference between your and you’re. Your is possessive, as in “your car” or “your business.” You’re is short for you are. Know which you’re trying to say.
  4. Same for its and it’s. It’s is short for it is. Read your sentence out loud. If you can say “it is” without it sounding goofy, it’s is the proper use. If it sounds ridiculous, you can use its, which is possessive.
  5. The word “that” is rarely necessary. If you can write the sentence without the word “that,” remove it. It’s very rare it’s a necessity.
  6. Stop using the word “like.” Just like Don Silver in the example like above, like too many people like use the word like and it like sounds like really like unprofessional and like demeans like your expertise.

If you want to get serious about your business writing, check out the Associated Press Stylebook, the Chicago Manual of Style, or Strunk and White’s Elements of Style.

What tips would you add to the list?

About Gini Dietrich


Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro.

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217 Comments on "Six Tips for Better Business Writing"

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PerfectDisk
PerfectDisk
3 years 9 months ago

@ginidietrich @SpinSucks My pet peeves. If one person today learns these lessons…:)

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
3 years 9 months ago

@PerfectDisk If only…

jasonkonopinski
3 years 9 months ago

Read everything out loud for clarity. 

ginidietrich
3 years 9 months ago

 @jasonkonopinski I say this to my team all the time. Read it out loud! You’ll catch things you wouldn’t be reading silently. 

jasonkonopinski
3 years 9 months ago

 @ginidietrich Indeed! It’s a trick I’ve used since my college days. 

Erin F.
3 years 9 months ago

 @jasonkonopinski  @ginidietrich Same here. I have to write a post about it. It’s been requested. 😉

ginidietrich
3 years 9 months ago

 @Erin F.  @jasonkonopinski I feel like it’s something our creative writing advisor made us do. While he also shortened the word “character” to “xter.”

Erin F.
3 years 9 months ago

 @ginidietrich  @jasonkonopinski I don’t remember where I picked up the habit. It’s been that long. Eek!

jasonkonopinski
3 years 9 months ago

 @Erin F.  @ginidietrich I only had a few creative writing classes as an undergraduate, but it was definitely impressed upon me by my lit profs. 

RebeccaTodd
3 years 9 months ago

 @jasonkonopinski  @Erin F.  @ginidietrich It was my dad that got that in my head way back in high school. I used to tutor ESL students, and their work was always better when they would talk it out, record it, then transcribe that. Some people get all flustered with the whole writing process. Hung up on how it “should” sound and such. Damn, I am going over these posts with a fine toothed comb today. Not the day for a lazy typo…

jasonkonopinski
3 years 9 months ago

 @RebeccaTodd  @Erin F.  @ginidietrich When I was finishing up my MA, I was teaching first year composition and reading courses at one of the largest community college systems in Northern Virginia. A very ethnically diverse area and quite a few of my students were here on student visas or new citizens.

Erin F.
3 years 9 months ago

Dear Gini,
 
I love you. #ThatIsAll
 
Erin

ginidietrich
3 years 9 months ago

 @Erin F. I love you, too, Erin and your love for the language!

Erin F.
3 years 9 months ago

 @ginidietrich I probably should edit my comment and get rid of the hashtag…

ginidietrich
3 years 9 months ago

 @Erin F. I think the hashtag is kind of funny in some situations. #likenow

jasonkonopinski
3 years 9 months ago

 @ginidietrich  @Erin F. #sorrynotsorry

Erin F.
3 years 9 months ago

 @jasonkonopinski  @ginidietrich I consider the hashtag as a sort of shorthand for parentheses. Both allow for parenthetical commentary.

RebeccaTodd
3 years 9 months ago

I once got an email from a language arts publisher- a business email!- that contained “u” and “r”. I died a little that day. 

ginidietrich
3 years 9 months ago

 @RebeccaTodd I would have died a little, too!

Erin F.
3 years 9 months ago

 @ginidietrich  @RebeccaTodd I refuse to read such emails. Or, if I do read them, I use them as examples of what not to do. I need to save some of those emails for a business writing class I’ll be teaching.

RebeccaTodd
3 years 9 months ago

I actually used to have a lesson where we would take Shakespeare, translate that in to regular modern English, then translate it in to colloquialisms.  It would be really fascinating to do the same lesson now and turn it in to text slang. Almost enough to make me want to get back in the classroom…

ginidietrich
3 years 9 months ago

 @RebeccaTodd Yeah…you do that tonight and let us know how it works out in the morning.

RebeccaTodd
3 years 9 months ago

 @ginidietrich More reasonable- go volunteer with a teacher friend for the day. Or just write up said lesson so my sis-in-law can deliver it with her students! 

belllindsay
belllindsay
3 years 9 months ago

I know @jasonkonopinski already weighed in re: reading things out loud – great point – but here’s another tip to find spelling errors, missed words, typos and the like: read your post backwards from bottom to top. That way, your brain won’t automatically “fill in” what’s missing, or “not see” typos, the way it does when reading text that it “knows” already. Also, I love the brain. 

ginidietrich
3 years 9 months ago

 @belllindsay  @jasonkonopinski Ohhhh! Another good one. Very good!

RebeccaTodd
3 years 9 months ago

 @belllindsay  @jasonkonopinski That’s a great idea Linds! And you need to check the spell check- I once had a student submit a report on the Chronicles of Sarnia. TRUTH. 

belllindsay
belllindsay
3 years 9 months ago

 @RebeccaTodd  @jasonkonopinski Exactly. I think people rely too heavily on spell check. 

jasonkonopinski
3 years 9 months ago

 @belllindsay  @RebeccaTodd The funny thing about spell check is that it won’t catch homophone errors. 🙂 

flemingsean
flemingsean
3 years 9 months ago

 @belllindsay  @RebeccaTodd  @jasonkonopinski My brother teaches history in a US university.  He set a paper for his students on Tamburlaine the Great.  One student had diligently used spellchecker and autocorrect, and handed in a paper about Timberland the Great.

RebeccaTodd
3 years 9 months ago

 @flemingsean  @belllindsay  @jasonkonopinski AHHH Love that! 
 

belllindsay
belllindsay
3 years 9 months ago

 @RebeccaTodd  @flemingsean  @jasonkonopinski Get out of TOWN!!?? That’s hilarious!

RebeccaTodd
3 years 9 months ago

 @belllindsay  @flemingsean  @jasonkonopinski I realized the Yanks don’t know about just what a magical place Sconzonia really is. 

Erin F.
3 years 9 months ago

 @belllindsay  @RebeccaTodd  @jasonkonopinski They do! Spell check is not the end all, be all.

write4unj
3 years 9 months ago

I had a student (college) turn in something and in the middle of the sentence was the word “torah” (didn’t even know that was in spell check). I eventually figured out she meant to use the word “thorough”. When I pointed out the error, her response was “I wondered what that word meant.” {sigh}

RebeccaTodd
3 years 9 months ago

 @write4unj WOW. 

ginidietrich
3 years 9 months ago

 @write4unj Oh dear.

John_Trader1
John_Trader1
3 years 9 months ago

 @belllindsay  @jasonkonopinski That is great advice.

Al Smith
3 years 9 months ago

Whut r u talkin bout ?

RebeccaTodd
3 years 9 months ago

 @Al Smith HAH! That actually made me Ell Oh Ell. 

ginidietrich
3 years 9 months ago

 @Al Smith U R a PITA

RebeccaTodd
3 years 9 months ago

 @ginidietrich  @Al Smith What is a PITA? Am I that old now? YOLO- is that appropriate here?!?

belllindsay
belllindsay
3 years 9 months ago

 @RebeccaTodd  @ginidietrich  @Al Smith I have an acronym that I won’t share here. Gini’s head would blow off. 🙂 

Al Smith
3 years 9 months ago

 @RebeccaTodd  @ginidietrich
 Pain In The Ass.  I am sure she meant PETA .

jasonkonopinski
3 years 9 months ago

 @belllindsay  @RebeccaTodd  @ginidietrich  @Al Smith Ooh, ooh, I know which one! xoxoxoxo

belllindsay
belllindsay
3 years 9 months ago

 @jasonkonopinski  @RebeccaTodd  @ginidietrich  @Al Smith Jason – wink wink!! 😀 

Al Smith
3 years 9 months ago

 @ginidietrich
 Thank you.  Animal rights is a great cause.  Come join us.  lmao.

jasonkonopinski
3 years 9 months ago

 @Al Smith  @ginidietrich ROFLTTYLBBQ

DoTime_WX
DoTime_WX
3 years 9 months ago

Very nice @ginidietrich  of the reminder. The crazy thing is that most of this is common sense, or what used to be common sense. The new protocol (slang, abbr.) creates a breakdown in communication due to the disconnect between old and new style.

ginidietrich
3 years 9 months ago

 @DoTime_WX Exactly! It breeds laziness. It’s not that hard to type a couple more letters and write the entire word out.

flemingsean
flemingsean
3 years 9 months ago

Number three is all about the difference between knowing your shit and knowing you’re shit.
 
 

C_Pappas
3 years 9 months ago

 @flemingsean That’s awesome!

FocusedWords
FocusedWords
3 years 9 months ago

 @flemingsean Would love to hit “Like” more than once for this one.  

ginidietrich
3 years 9 months ago

 @flemingsean HAHAHAHAHAH!

Karen_C_Wilson
Karen_C_Wilson
3 years 9 months ago

Personally, I would like people to recognize that it is always going to be “rather than” rather than “rather then”. I’m amazed at how many people are spelling/grammar deficient.

Soulati | B2B Social Media Marketing

 @Karen_C_Wilson I cringe when I see call outs with typos that should really be caught or in blog post headlines. I have to bite my tongue and immediately move to the next site; otherwise, there are hurt feelings. But, who should police that? Should I? Do you?

ginidietrich
3 years 9 months ago

 @Soulati | B2B Social Media Marketing  @Karen_C_Wilson If it were in my blog post, I’d want you to tell me!

Karen_C_Wilson
3 years 9 months ago

 @ginidietrich  @Soulati | B2B Social Media Marketing I’d want someone to tell me, too. I’m hesitant to point such things out to others, especially “rather then” to one particular blogger I know who does it in just about every single post. My reason? I don’t know them well enough to judge whether they’d be offended or not.
 
We should have blog badge that indicates when a blogger is okay with grammar/punctuation police telling us we missed something.

Soulati | B2B Social Media Marketing

 @Karen_C_Wilson  @ginidietrich Oh, man. LOVE that! Blog Badge: Edit Me, I like it!

ginidietrich
3 years 9 months ago

 @Karen_C_Wilson Holy cow. I’ve never noticed that one, but now I’m sure I’ll see it everywhere.

SociallyGenius
3 years 9 months ago
Don’t worry, since reading your posts about all the wonderful things computers are doing, I’m just gonna have them write my material for me 😉 On a slightly more serious note, I struggle mightily with #5 and I know it. But it just doesn’t matter, it has to “sound” right in my head. Even your example “it’s very rare it’s a necessity” makes me shudder internally because I would SAY “it’s very rare that it’s a necessity.” Sure, writing and talking are different, but I try to write the way I talk. Maybe I should change that 🙂 Super Duper… Read more »
ginidietrich
3 years 9 months ago

 @SociallyGenius Is it covered in caramel?

SociallyGenius
3 years 9 months ago

@ginidietrich whatever it takes to be the teacher’s pet

jennimacdonald
jennimacdonald
3 years 9 months ago

Thanks for the post! Since I have a degree in Art not English I’m always worried about my blog posts. I do know the difference between everything listed above but I am nervous about my grammatcial errors. I always try to imagine that @ginidietrich is looking over my shoulder when I write, which is why I never use the word “like” anymore. : )

ginidietrich
3 years 9 months ago

 @jennimacdonald Ha! How funny would it be if I showed up while you were writing one day and watched over your shoulder?

jennimacdonald
jennimacdonald
3 years 9 months ago

 @ginidietrich Not funny, I’d be sweating bullets. I couldn’t handle the pressure! : )

Carmelo
3 years 9 months ago

You’re post and these comments is really important for we bloggers! Like wow, your on that target like big time! Some of that sh**? OMG me and you would LOL till the cow come home! Its like crazy dude. Thank God for those like you and *I* cuz somebodies got to set that standard. WTH! (count ’em!) 🙂

jasonkonopinski
3 years 9 months ago

 @Carmelo <snort> 

Soulati | B2B Social Media Marketing

 @Carmelo Because I don’t know you, I thought you were serious. After about the 5th default, I realized; the yolks on me!! LOL

Carmelo
3 years 9 months ago

 @Soulati | B2B Social Media Marketing lol, I can imagine. it’s not too far off from what we sometimes see! (here, let me get that … still a bit of egg on your face)

ginidietrich
3 years 9 months ago

 @Carmelo Oh this pains me so!

Carmelo
3 years 9 months ago

 @ginidietrich I hated to do that to you … i knew you’d grind your teeth and your head would probably spin around a couple times. (Hey, it wasn’t easy on me either!)

ginidietrich
3 years 9 months ago

 @Carmelo I may have even groaned.

Soulati | B2B Social Media Marketing
OMGosh. Did anyone mention “that” in comments below? Do you know how many people add “that” for no reason to a sentence? The Wall Street Journal does it in every story and every line Why is that?    One of my very first blog posts back in the day was about this word; it’s a conundrum and people insist on using it. Test yourself. The next time you find yourself using “that” in a sentence delete it; does it change the meaning one iota? Probably not.    The other deal is when people are referred to as that instead of… Read more »
Erin F.
3 years 9 months ago

 @Soulati | B2B Social Media Marketing If the word modifies a person, the correct word is “who.” I actually have a post on my site about who, which, and that. One of my readers asked that I explain the rules about the three words. 😀

Soulati | B2B Social Media Marketing

 @Erin F. Thank heavens. I’m doing that right (write). 🙂

ginidietrich
3 years 9 months ago

 @Erin F.  I HATE it when people use “that” when it’s supposed to be “who.”

ginidietrich
3 years 9 months ago

 @Soulati | B2B Social Media Marketing It drives my team NUTS, but I delete it in everything they write. It’s totally unnecessary. 

thejoshuawilner
3 years 9 months ago

 @Soulati | B2B Social Media Marketing That comment of yours is the one that got my attention and made me decide that I had to respond. What do you think of that.

Soulati | B2B Social Media Marketing

 @thejoshuawilner Thank you for doing to Twin what you did to me in my house…that’s a perfect balance in the mechanics of commenting. Now, let’s Jack around some more, Big Guy!

thejoshuawilner
3 years 9 months ago

 @Soulati | B2B Social Media Marketing  I am always here to lend a hand.

AnneReuss
AnneReuss
3 years 9 months ago

Now I’m not going to be able to write a comment without overanalyzing in SpinSucks with Mrs. English Diva………..
 
A little pressure can be good. 🙂 

ginidietrich
3 years 9 months ago

 @AnneReuss Ha! I promise not to grade your comments.

GrizzardComm
GrizzardComm
3 years 9 months ago

Please don’t write in texteze. I beg you. RT @ginidietrich Homework in text language, writing client docs with acronyms http://t.co/S6fQNjAI

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
3 years 9 months ago

@SociallyGenius ha!

wabbitoid
3 years 9 months ago
This is a bit more advanced, but it can be important for Midwesterners in particular.  A scan for passive voice can be done by searching for “ing” when editing.  If it is part of a sentence with a “be” verb, such as “I am looking for someone to do this”, you know it’s passive.  A stronger sentence is “I need someone to do this” or even “Someone must do this”. You mentioned the over-use of “that” – a quick search for a few words as a first pass at editing (that, like, ing) is an easy way to dive into… Read more »
ginidietrich
3 years 9 months ago

 @wabbitoid That IS a Midwest thing. So funny! I’ve never thought to have my team scan copy that way…very good tip!

KensViews
3 years 9 months ago

Useful post, as always. I agree with five of the tips, but I’m concerned about the growing dependence on spell check as an alternative to careful proofing or getting someone else to proof one’s work. If you write a document about “Public Relations” but leave out “l” in public, don’t expect spell check to know your meaning. And do expect some embarrassment!

thejoshuawilner
3 years 9 months ago

 @KensViews I don’t know. That is the kind of PR that might generate more shares. 😉
 
You make a good point about spell check. I received an email today from someone who wanted assistance developing a marketing plan to promote a sail. Sadly it did not come from a sailor or anyone who has anything to with the sea.

ginidietrich
3 years 9 months ago

 @thejoshuawilner  You’re ornery today!

thejoshuawilner
3 years 9 months ago

 @ginidietrich  I am ornery every day, part of being a Taurus.

jasonkonopinski
3 years 9 months ago

 @thejoshuawilner  @ginidietrich One of the local high schools got picked up by Deadspin (and later USA Today) for a rather unfortunate letter omission.  
 
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/13/red-lion-area-high-school-sign-typo-pubic-public_n_1881544.html

Erin F.
3 years 9 months ago

 @KensViews Wasn’t UTAustin the university that missed the “l” in public in some commencement collateral? I believe the error was caught before too much embarrassment came to the school, but it wasn’t caught soon enough. I remember reading an article about the incident.

KensViews
3 years 9 months ago

 @Erin F. I don’t know if it was that college, but I feel like I’ve seen that error out there.  Whenever I teach/train on writing, that’s the example I give for not using spell check!

Carmelo
3 years 9 months ago

 @KensViews So true, Ken. It can really interpret things incorrectly. But, it can get you closer to your goal as long as you don’t trust it too much! 

ginidietrich
3 years 9 months ago

 @KensViews Spell check, from the reverse side, though, gives you the opportunity to check things the computer thinks are wrong. You have the opportunity to decline the word it wants you to use if it’s not right. But that’s why, in your example, it’s so freaking important to read your work out loud. 

annelizhannan
3 years 9 months ago

 @KensViews Most definitely, but think of the ‘likes’ you will receive!

Jill Tooley
3 years 9 months ago
When my husband was still in college, he told me a story of a girl who turned in a paper that he was asked to peer edit. She used “LOL” in place of the majority of her periods and other punctuation — seriously. Who would ever think that’s acceptable for an academic assignment? Using it in jest is one thing, but sticking it in formal writing seems absurd!   I’m guilty of saying “like” during in-person conversations, but I’m trying to stop. When I hear other people overuse it, I vow never to use it again, but that’s easier said… Read more »
Carmelo
3 years 9 months ago

 @Jill Tooley You’re just a valley girl i guess (gosh that’s a long time ago) Okay, maybe you’re not!

ginidietrich
3 years 9 months ago

 @Jill Tooley I have no idea what to say to that. I’m astounded. 
 
I say “like” instead of “said.” I catch myself constantly. 

C_Pappas
C_Pappas
3 years 9 months ago

@ginidietrich I cant believe they are not teaching cursive any longer 🙁 My mother writes beautifully. I have always been envious

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
3 years 9 months ago

@C_Pappas It makes me sad, too. While I have you…did you read Gone Girl?

C_Pappas
C_Pappas
3 years 9 months ago

@ginidietrich no. But I want to!! It’s the same author of Dark Places which I told you to read. Did you?

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
3 years 9 months ago

@C_Pappas I did! And because I got a free chapter of Gone Girl at the end of it, I read it. And I was obsessed. Better than Dark Places

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
3 years 9 months ago

@C_Pappas I read it in about five hours

C_Pappas
C_Pappas
3 years 9 months ago

@ginidietrich I have to get it! I just didn’t want to buy a hard cover cause I still buy real books and all 🙂

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
3 years 9 months ago

@C_Pappas Buy it. You won’t regret it.

FocusedWords
FocusedWords
3 years 9 months ago

Just heard this one last week.  A student was writing a book report on Catcher In The Rye.  Her report?  What I learned from Catheter In The Rye.

FocusedWords
FocusedWords
3 years 9 months ago

We love spell check so much that there are whole websites devoted to the screw ups.
 

Erin F.
3 years 9 months ago

 @FocusedWords #FacePalm

ginidietrich
3 years 9 months ago

 @FocusedWords LOL! I guess it’s not totally reliant. The thing that bugs me is when I receive a document and you can see the red squiggly line under words. Come on, people! At least try. It gives you the opportunity to decline its change if it’s not right.

Nic_Cartwright
3 years 9 months ago

 @ginidietrich  @FocusedWords My MIddle Eastern predicta-text is a laugh a minute….
“Ticket Situation in Hand” – with a few “fat finger moments” became – “Rickety Situation in Gandhi’s”…..
Almost had to hit send just for sheer shock value….

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
3 years 9 months ago

@perricollins Look at your cute avatar!

perricollins
perricollins
3 years 9 months ago

@ginidietrich LOL…thanks! just got it taken last week. 🙂

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
3 years 9 months ago

@perricollins I like it lots!

justinspage
justinspage
3 years 9 months ago

Thanks, Gini! I run into this issue often and if I can offer two words of advice, we need to SLOW DOWN. We’re so busy nowadays that we rarely read what we type, much less proof it. I already rely too much on spell check! Again, great post.

ginidietrich
3 years 9 months ago

 @justinspage Slow down is really good advice…advice I can take myself!

flemingsean
flemingsean
3 years 9 months ago

 @justinspage Do you ever get emails from friends/colleagues etc that sign off with something like “sent unedited”..?  I always read that to mean one of two things: 1) you’re not important enough for me to take the time to check what I’ve written; 2) I’m not smart enough to spot my errors.
 
Slowing down is definitely good advice.

justinspage
justinspage
3 years 9 months ago

 @flemingsean  I actually don’t see much of the “sent unedited”. I never really have. Your points are well taken, though. 
 

ImMarkBernhardt
ImMarkBernhardt
3 years 9 months ago

I bought a copy of Jan Venolia’s “Write Right” for the office. The book has made its way from desk to desk, and has yet to return to mine in several months. It’s a good resource and easy to follow.

ginidietrich
3 years 9 months ago

 @ImMarkBernhardt Ohhh! I’m going to buy a copy for everyone here. Great idea!

ImMarkBernhardt
ImMarkBernhardt
3 years 9 months ago

 @ginidietrich Thanks! I think Jan Veniola will thank you, too.

ImMarkBernhardt
ImMarkBernhardt
3 years 9 months ago

Or… Venolia.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
3 years 9 months ago

@JennyQ I have to stop reading. I’m a total nerd.

JennyQ
JennyQ
3 years 9 months ago

@ginidietrich I must like nerds then. lol I love what you write! Oh shit. I just wrote “lol.”

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
3 years 9 months ago

@JennyQ Hahahahahaha! I think on Twitter it’s OK!

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
3 years 9 months ago

@ImMarkBernhardt Really great book idea!

ImMarkBernhardt
ImMarkBernhardt
3 years 9 months ago

@ginidietrich Thanks, Gini! I found the book on a designer’s desk — bookmarked, dog-eared and annotated. I’m so proud. 🙂

annelizhannan
3 years 9 months ago
I rarely write about my political or personal value thoughts on social media for a host or reasons but this post hit a soft spot (and nobody will see this).   Not only are we desecrating our language with these shortcuts, abbreviations and acronyms but we are doing a great disservice to our children and future generations of thought leaders to broom sweepers.   I have been told by many superiors to ‘dumb down’ (exact words) my language or speech to the level a particular audience. I understand that speaking or writing with clarity and simplicity is best but I… Read more »
Erin F.
3 years 9 months ago

 @annelizhannan Do you have the same superiors I once had? I used to hear the “dumbing down” argument when I did freelance work. It always irked me. It still does. I guess that partially explains why I now have a business called Write Right…

annelizhannan
3 years 9 months ago

 @Erin F. Yes, I did, as I believe I etched.  I also looked at your page and added you to my RSS feed. I also saw your post w leaderswest. 
 
Thank you for responding to my comment.

ginidietrich
3 years 9 months ago

 @annelizhannan I understand “dumbing down” content if it’s used in a discussion about jargon. So many of our clients have their own language that I’ll tell them they need to tone it down for writing. But, as far as grammar and spelling and vocabulary go, it’s insane to think we’d write differently just because the world is adapting to text speech. Maybe that’s me getting set in my ways as I get older, but I refuse to believe it’ll ever be okay to not write appropriately.

Erin F.
3 years 9 months ago

 @ginidietrich  @annelizhannan I guess I don’t consider that “dumbing down.” To me, that’s explaining concepts to an audience that may or may not be familiar with them. It’s part of being kind to and respectful of your reader.

barrettrossie
3 years 9 months ago

Keep it simple.
 
Edit yourself. Then edit some more. Whenever you can say the same thing in fewer works, it’s probably better. 
 
Avoid passive verbs, and progressive verbs. (Someone in Chicago should jail the writer of “I’m Lovin’ It.”) 
 
Subscribe to @Erin F. ‘s blog: http://ow.ly/dZJ5m and get her new free ebook, “The Principles of Effective Communication.” Both are a great complement to Strunk and White, who would have loved @Erin F. ! 

barrettrossie
3 years 9 months ago

I had a short stint at a humungous ad agency with a branch in San Francisco. They were very proud to present me my new business card. It read: J. Walter Thompson, San Francsico

barrettrossie
3 years 9 months ago

Keep it simple.
 
Edit yourself. Then edit some more. If you can say the same thing in fewer words, it’s probably better. 
 
Avoid passive verbs, and progressive verbs. (Someone in Chicago should jail the writer of “I’m Lovin’ It.”) 
 
Subscribe to @Erin F. ‘s blog: http://ow.ly/dZJ5m and get her new free ebook, “The Principles of Effective Communication.” The blog and book both complement The Elements of Style by Strunk and White, who would have loved Erin F! 
 

Erin F.
3 years 9 months ago

 @barrettrossie Wow, thank you, Barrett!

ginidietrich
3 years 9 months ago

 @barrettrossie  There are SO MANY grammar mistakes in ads. It makes me nuts.

Nic_Cartwright
3 years 9 months ago
Tough one this….  (tbh I come from a world where no one can read my handwriting – my Klingon upbringing remains private)…..  But the world moves on – and 400 years ago, Shakespeare has his own rules…  The pace at which we adapt gets quicker each year – and whilst English is the language that dominates currenly – I keep hearing that even that will come to an end as the world’s dominnat business language???   Adapt to your environment, keep your own standards high.  And as I have proved by assimilating into my own new environment – work hard… Read more »
ginidietrich
3 years 9 months ago

 @Nic_Cartwright Totally agree with you, Nic. But also adapt in a way that is appropriate for business and culture. Don’t shorten just because you’re being lazy.

jennwhinnem
jennwhinnem
3 years 9 months ago
RebeccaTodd
3 years 9 months ago

 @jennwhinnem Love that Jenn! I am reposting.

ginidietrich
3 years 9 months ago

 @jennwhinnem Ha!

jennwhinnem
jennwhinnem
3 years 9 months ago

I think business writing suffers more from a lack of clear thought than spelling/grammar problems. Gertrude Stein used proper spelling AND grammar and her poems are meaningless (and that was the point, to uncover the structures of language). Right jasonkonopinski ?

jasonkonopinski
3 years 9 months ago

 @jennwhinnem Indeed! I think you’ve just chosen the subject of this week’s Poetry Friday post! 🙂

jennwhinnem
jennwhinnem
3 years 9 months ago

 @jasonkonopinski I am looking forward to this.

jasonkonopinski
3 years 9 months ago

 @jennwhinnem It’ll be up shortly. I’ll ping you when it does. 🙂 

ginidietrich
3 years 9 months ago

 @jennwhinnem  HA! If I wrote poetry, mine would be meaningless too.

Erin F.
3 years 9 months ago

 @jennwhinnem  Yes, communicating well has more to do with clarity than spelling and grammar, although those two things are part of writing clearly. I drew a comic of the Write Right girl holding a bottle of Windex to illustrate that idea. 🙂

rdopping
rdopping
3 years 9 months ago

WTF are ewe sayling that I cant spill? Your kidding, right? Its crazy and that’s a fact. Like you no anything.

RebeccaTodd
3 years 9 months ago

 @rdopping Are you all Parisian drunk Ralph? 

ginidietrich
3 years 9 months ago

 @rdopping How painful was it for you to write that?

rdopping
rdopping
3 years 9 months ago

 @ginidietrich bwaahahahaha….it took like an hour and it hurt, a lot. I am trying to speak French and ordering a glass of wine hurts too….but we are toughing it out.

Mark_Harai
Mark_Harai
3 years 9 months ago

@merylkevans Cheers Meryl : )

talhaabbasi
talhaabbasi
3 years 9 months ago

@LisaPetrilli quick, crisp and relevant – thanks

LisaPetrilli
LisaPetrilli
3 years 9 months ago

@talhaabbasi You’re welcome 🙂

talhaabbasi
talhaabbasi
3 years 9 months ago

@LisaPetrilli 🙂

belllindsay
belllindsay
3 years 9 months ago

@brasonja Thanks for the RT! 🙂 @SpinSucks

brasonja
brasonja
3 years 9 months ago

@belllindsay You’re most welcome! 🙂

GrowSocially
GrowSocially
3 years 9 months ago

@crowdcube thanks so much for the RT!

trackback

[…] post goes out to Jennifer Whinnem who referenced Gertrude Stein in a comment on a recent SpinSucks about bad business […]

Tinu
3 years 9 months ago

Yeah. With the exception of one person I know who is overseas with an iffy keyboard, I don’t accept text messages in SMS speak. I write back “sorry, I don’t speak gibberish”. Which is why no one texts me. Very ok with that.

Nic_Cartwright
3 years 9 months ago

 @Tinu lol
 
(I am overseas)

TedRubin
TedRubin
3 years 9 months ago

Aand… Affect vs Effect. Also please stop saying, and writing, actually every time you make a statement. If it is not “actually” then why are you saying it? 🙂

TedRubin
TedRubin
3 years 9 months ago

And… Affect vs Effect.
 
Also please stop saying, and writing, actually every time you make a statement. If it is not “actually” then why are you saying it? 🙂

FocusedWords
FocusedWords
3 years 9 months ago

Just found a small ray of hope for the future.  There is a high school on Staten Island that has incorporated writing into every subject.  Who’d a thunk it??   http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2012/10/the-writing-revolution/309090/

markmeyerphoto
markmeyerphoto
3 years 9 months ago

@mdbarber The six rules have become simpler since Orwell’s version at the end of Politics and the English Language – http://t.co/nxXNXuDG

mdbarber
mdbarber
3 years 9 months ago

@markmeyerphoto interesting. Thanks. Amazing to see how long we’ve been talking about the same issues isn’t it.

AnnVertel
AnnVertel
3 years 8 months ago

@MariSmith I know I saw you in a picture recently NOT wearing teal – shaking things up a bit? 🙂

MariSmith
MariSmith
3 years 8 months ago

@AnnVertel hahaa hey Ann, yeppers – I decided to come out the “turquoise closet” earlier this year!! 😀

AnnVertel
AnnVertel
3 years 8 months ago

@MariSmith fantastic, Mari – you look smashing in any color 🙂 And oh the wardrobe opportunities now…. 🙂

ZenYinger
ZenYinger
3 years 8 months ago

Thanks for the RT! Cheers everyone!:) @ambercleveland @SpinSucks @MariSmith Pre #FF 😀

trackback

[…] as though you’re reading the text for the very first time. You also can borrow an idea from Lindsay Bell-Wheeler who says to read your work backwards, that is, from the conclusion to the […]

DawnMentzer
DawnMentzer
11 months 9 days ago

Good tips. Reading aloud helps a lot. Also, making it a point to pause at every punctuation mark while proofreading helps to find those little oopses that can sneak past us. I think nearly everyone knows the difference between “its” and “it’s” and “there,” “they’re” and “their” and “your” and “you’re.” In haste, however, using the wrong one happens.

ElissaFreeman
ElissaFreeman
11 months 9 days ago

Ok…I laughed my head off but this is so true! I looked over a paper my daughter was handing in (about 2 years ago) and was AGHAST she had written a word in text.  TEXT! I freaked and she looked at me like I had three heads. Needless to say she has broken that habit.  But, like, yeah…like she still like uses that like word way too much.!

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