Gini Dietrich

Six Tips for Better Business Writing

By: Gini Dietrich | July 22, 2015 | 

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. Join the Spin Sucks   community!

  • PerfectDisk

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

    • ginidietrich

      @PerfectDisk If only…

  • Read everything out loud for clarity. 

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

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

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

        •  @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.”

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

        •  @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. 

        •  @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…

        •  @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.

  • Dear Gini,
    I love you. #ThatIsAll

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

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

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

        •  @ginidietrich  @Erin F. #sorrynotsorry

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

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

    •  @RebeccaTodd I would have died a little, too!

      •  @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.

  • 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…

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

      •  @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

    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. 

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

    •  @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

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

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

        • flemingsean

           @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.

        •  @flemingsean  @belllindsay  @jasonkonopinski AHHH Love that! 

        • belllindsay

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

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

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

        • 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}

        •  @write4unj WOW. 

        •  @write4unj Oh dear.

    • John_Trader1

       @belllindsay  @jasonkonopinski That is great advice.

  • Whut r u talkin bout ?

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

    •  @Al Smith U R a PITA

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

        • belllindsay

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

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

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

        • belllindsay

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

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

  • DoTime_WX

    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.

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

  • flemingsean

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

    •  @flemingsean That’s awesome!

    • FocusedWords

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

    •  @flemingsean HAHAHAHAHAH!

  • Karen_C_Wilson

    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.

    •  @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?

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

        •  @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.

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

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

  • 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 lesson Mrs D, I brought you an apple!

    •  @SociallyGenius Is it covered in caramel?

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

  • jennimacdonald

    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. : )

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

      • jennimacdonald

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

  • 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!) 🙂

    •  @Carmelo <snort> 

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

      •  @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)

    •  @Carmelo Oh this pains me so!

      •  @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!)

  • 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 who…I want someone to tell me which is correct. 
    The plumber who installed the pipe, or The plumber that installed the pipe. Seems to me it it’s modifying a person, it ought to be “who.” 

    •  @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 It drives my team NUTS, but I delete it in everything they write. It’s totally unnecessary. 

    •  @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.

      •  @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!

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

  • AnneReuss

    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. 🙂 

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

  • GrizzardComm

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

  • ginidietrich

    @SociallyGenius ha!

  • 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 the very difficult skill of editing your own stuff.  Everyone has their own “ticks” that they need to look for – one of mine is “just”, as in “just a little bit”.  Once you know your ticks you can add them to the list that everything more important than a one-off email gets before you ship it.
    Teaching how to edit your own stuff is a skill I love to teach people.  It helps me do a better job if nothing else.  🙂  It’s also very critical, IMHO.

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

  • 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!

    •  @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.

    •  @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.

      •  @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!

    •  @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! 

    •  @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. 

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

  • 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 than done. Not sure why I fell into that silly habit…

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

    •  @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

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

    • ginidietrich

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

      • C_Pappas

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

        • ginidietrich

          @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

          @C_Pappas I read it in about five hours

        • C_Pappas

          @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

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

  • FocusedWords

    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

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

    •  @FocusedWords #FacePalm

    •  @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.

      •  @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

    @perricollins Look at your cute avatar!

    • perricollins

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

      • ginidietrich

        @perricollins I like it lots!

  • justinspage

    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.

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

    • flemingsean

       @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

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

  • ImMarkBernhardt

    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.

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

      • ImMarkBernhardt

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

        • ImMarkBernhardt

          Or… Venolia.

  • ginidietrich

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

    • JennyQ

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

      • ginidietrich

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

  • ginidietrich

    @ImMarkBernhardt Really great book idea!

    • ImMarkBernhardt

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

  • 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 do not understand the need to lower the bar to a level of rubbish or gibberish. I would prefer to raise the tone to propriety, not above, level. The pendulum has swung too far in terms of ‘tolerance’ in language behavior.  Often I can’t even decipher the who, what, when, where or how in a sentence.
    It is not that I expect perfection in every sentence or dialogue as my middle name could easily be ‘error’ or (sp) but I can’t accept the neglect of grammar, speech and spelling when tools are available and accept as status quo.
    I also take to heart your willingness to buy a copy of “Write Right” for ‘everyone here’ as I know you must be talking about the comment section participants.  Thank you in advance, you continue to be one helluva classy act.

    •  @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…

      •  @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.

    •  @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.

      •  @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.

  • 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: 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. ! 

  • 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

  • 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: 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! 

    •  @barrettrossie Wow, thank you, Barrett!

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

  • 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 at understanding your customers in the language they understand…
    أشكركم على الاستماع

    •  @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

    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 ?

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

      • jennwhinnem

         @jasonkonopinski I am looking forward to this.

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

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

    •  @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

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

    •  @rdopping Are you all Parisian drunk Ralph? 

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

      • rdopping

         @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

    @merylkevans Cheers Meryl : )

  • talhaabbasi

    @LisaPetrilli quick, crisp and relevant – thanks

    • LisaPetrilli

      @talhaabbasi You’re welcome 🙂

      • talhaabbasi

        @LisaPetrilli 🙂

  • belllindsay

    @brasonja Thanks for the RT! 🙂 @SpinSucks

    • brasonja

      @belllindsay You’re most welcome! 🙂

  • GrowSocially

    @crowdcube thanks so much for the RT!

  • Pingback: Poetry Friday: Gertrude Stein | Jason Konopinski - Write. Think. Do.()

  • 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.

  • TedRubin

    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

    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

    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??

  • markmeyerphoto

    @mdbarber The six rules have become simpler since Orwell’s version at the end of Politics and the English Language –

    • mdbarber

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

  • AnnVertel

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

    • MariSmith

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

      • AnnVertel

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

  • ZenYinger

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

  • Pingback: Why You Should Read Your Work Aloud()

  • DawnMentzer

    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

    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.!

  • Because so much of our communication these days is hastily posted via some type of social media, it has the “feel” of being transitory or impermanent. I know I have adjusted my personal standards for this — typos in tweets don’t get me nearly as riled up as they used to. // As far as business communication in general … attention to detail (to me) is a bit of an indicator of how you will approach everything else about your business. If you didn’t take time to look back through an email or letter to make sure it was error-free, are you going to take the time to make sure the contract for 500,000 brochures isn’t overcharging me by 5 cents a piece (or whatever)? // I recently made a careless typo in the meta description of a post for Lead Change. Who really reads meta descriptions anyway, right? WELL, this particular post was one the author wanted to post to Linked In. Even though I fixed the typo, it turns out that Linked In NEVER LETS GO of the initial meta description. I spent so much more time redoing the ENTIRE post so that it would have a different root url, so that it would look right on LinkedIn, caused a delay in my client getting up a time sensitive post to LI, etc. etc. Accuracy and double checking pays (but it can also paralyze which is the tight rope I personally walk constantly). <<<— I actually started to say “all. the. time.” but have to admit that is one of those social media-y constructions that still sort of bugs me and doesn’t (IMO) belong in business correspondence even though I have embraced it as fun for social media and personal correspondence.

  • ElissaFreeman Have you ever had your kid say “but Word didn’t put that squiggly red line under the word so it must not have been wrong”? #facepalm

  • DawnMentzer I think you might be giving people way too much credit. I saw something on Facebook the other day from a “proud mommy” about her kid using their correctly, but it was completely and totally incorrect. I almost died. And I agree…reading it aloud helps a TON!

  • ElissaFreeman Like that totally like makes me like laugh!

  • biggreenpen That typo in the meta description story makes my stomach hurt for you. I know exactly what that feels like. Argh!

  • ginidietrich ElissaFreeman UGH 🙂

  • ginidietrich DawnMentzer Reading backwards helps too because your mind doesn’t fill in the blanks. It’s arduous but effective.

  • DawnMentzer

    ginidietrich DawnMentzer Yikes! Apparently there are exceptions. 🙂

  • SavvyCopywriter

    When someone misuses the word “your” vs “you’re,” it’s an instant distraction. The message is completely lost on me. It’s worth someone checking his/her writing over for these types of errors to avoid losing their audience.

    All of these writing tips are fantastic – not just number 3! I recently started a newsletter called “Read. Write. Riff.” where I offer professionals a few posts to read from the week, a writing tip, and a riff about something going on in the marketing world. The writing tip was tossed in there because it matters SO MUCH. 

    One other shameless plug (I SO don’t normally do this here!) – I wrote a similar post a few weeks ago where I said, “cut the THAT fat” and felt quite clever for my poetic abilities. You’re absolutely right! It’s rarely needed.

  • SavvyCopywriter

    ElissaFreeman I laughed a little when I hit the “like” button on this post. 😉

  • Michelle Hals

    Quick story: In an earlier stage of my career, I taught Composition I to college freshman. The work they submitted was usually good but their emails to me were not. Text lingo, lack of capitalization, run-on sentences, etc. After about three weeks of it, I’d had enough. I assigned an article about text language and knowing your audience. I never received another message with text language from them again.

    The tips are fantastic, especially #5. A peer drilled that into me many years ago and I’m grateful for it every day.

  • Michelle Hals

    biggreenpen ElissaFreeman I’ve seen that way too often. I used to teach college students. One assignment I gave was to write an essay assessing the status quo of a controversial issue.  I had a lot of rough drafts that included the statement, “I will now asses the situation…”

  • samemac

    Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

    I once took my students’ papers and wrote the top five errors from them on the board. Then we spent time going over each one. My first question? “What do you think these statements represent?” Several answered, “Sentences from our papers?” 

    They KNEW what they were, but didn’t get why it was important. I had to draw a very visual picture about job availability in our industry for people who cannot write. 

    I also had a professor tell my intro-level course he would not administer exams with surveys because students don’t know how to write and it’s a waste of his time to grade. [face palm]

    Writing. Is. Important. 

    Clearly, consistently and credibly craft content with context to communicate across multiple channels. (try to say that five times fast)

  • samemac (and ability to use alliteration is a potent professional plus also!)

  • Michelle Hals biggreenpen ElissaFreeman OH NO!!!

  • Suze Carragher

    I’m reminded of an NBC show “Ed.” Ed lost his job at a law firm over a misplaced comma.

  • danielschiller

    Use of the nominative case — “I” or “me.”

  • samemac

    And by surveys, I clearly meant essays. [insert WTH? here]

  • Great post. One thing to consider, if one depends on spell check.  Let’s say you write a post on “The Power of Public Relations,” and omit the “l” in “public,” spell check won’t catch that error.  The potential for embarrassment  is obvious!

  • StephanaWest

    Carmelo  I was wondering if anyone would note the error that makes me scream each time I hear it, and you got it. Why are people afraid to say “and me”? Is it some devious joke that grade school English teachers play when they tell us that we should never use “and me”? And why is that incorrect rule the one most people remember?

  • ElissaFreeman

    Michelle Hals biggreenpen ElissaFreeman Or…”due to the fact..” ARGH

  • ElissaFreeman

    biggreenpen ElissaFreeman Oh yes….!

  • ElissaFreeman

    SavvyCopywriter ElissaFreeman ok…now like, THAT’S funny…!

  • Diana Combs

    Michelle Hals  Great idea, assigning text language and knowing your audience! They need to read that, and the sooner the better.

  • StephanaWest Carmelo I had a boss who would say, “When determining between I and me, ask yourself how you would say it if it were just you?” Meaning, would you say “I am going to the store” or “Me is going to the store”? Or, “why don’t you go to the party with I” versus “why don’t you go the party with me”? It’s the latter, of course, but when people add another person in there, it confuses them. It’s still not, “Why don’t you go to the party with Stephana and I.”

  • KensViews Which is the EXACT example I used a couple of weeks ago because we’ve all made it!

  • SavvyCopywriter Oh my gosh! The word “that” drives me insane! I heart you.

  • I just wanted to say I think you’re doing a great job with your blog. I’m new to blogging, and I’m still figuring things out. If you have any tips, advice, feedback or input I’d really appreciate it. My post is MS/ I have Multiple Sclerosis and use my art as therapy. Endless thanks for your time! Teri

  • danielschiller

    May I add “impactful.” Not a word, and it sounds painful.

  • Michelle Hals Not a single message after that?! That’s pretty impressive!

  • samemac I can’t say it one time fast, but I do love the alliteration.

  • danielschiller YES!!!!!!!! I hate that word! Ask lkpetrolino. I go nuts about it.

  • TaraFriedlundGeissinger

    And this is why my kids attend a Classical Education school where they’re learning cursive, Latin, logic and tons of writing. 

    My pet peeve has nothing to do with using text talk in a business setting but everything to do with being an educated human being. Do not text back to me with a “K” instead of taking the 0.3 extra seconds to type “ok.” I mean, come on. I swear it zings my brain every time I have to read it. Which is apparently really funny to those who know this about me. 🙂

  • TaraFriedlundGeissinger Note to self: Start texting Tara one letter answers.

  • ginidietrich For the record, I have never made that mistake. At least not in pubic.  LOL!!

  • KensViews HA!

  • toothteri Teri – I just went to your site and your art is STUNNINGLY BEAUTIFUL! I do have some advice. If you will send me an email, it’ll remind me to send you some links of things I think will really help. You’re on the right path!

  • ginidietrich toothteri I enjoyed your art too! I sent you a post I wrote with ideas for new bloggers. Good luck!

  • ginidietrich KensViews I was proofing a friend’s resume once on which she included in her education her Master’s in Public Administration. #WithoutTheL (she added it hooray or her career path could  have taken a decidedly different path)

  • danielschiller And “concerning”

  • ginidietrich biggreenpen and FWIW I see the “that” in my comment. There are times (not my comment, but other times) when it can be defended IMO but it is too easily used as a non-essential filler.

  • Gini Dietrich

    I don’t remember that! I loved that show.

  • Hi Gini – Thank you so much for getting back to me. I would love to see the links you have that would help- my blogging! Teri