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December 2007 UpWrite Press - We Make Writing Work For You

One should aim not at being possible to understand, but at being impossible to misunderstand.

—Quintilian

Word Pair of the Month: compliment, complement

Both words may be used either as verbs or as nouns and can also take on an adjective form.

As a verb, compliment means “to give praise.”

She complimented him on his presentation in a roundabout way.

As a noun, it refers to the praise itself.

It was as sincere a compliment as she was capable of.

As an adjective, the word means “free.”

Complimentary pens were handed out to celebrate the event.

As a verb, complement means “to complete or go well with.”

The fanciful decor used throughout the office complemented the creative atmosphere.

As a noun, the word refers to “something that completes or makes perfect.”

His honesty was a pleasant complement to his engaging personality.

As an adjective, it means “forming a complement or completing.”

Complementary talents ensured the business partners success.

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December Writers’ Forum Topic

Many thanks to all who answered the three-part question in this month’s forum: How does your company handle holiday greetings? Do you send cards to clients? How do you handle wording to avoid offending diverse populations?

Only a few respondents said they did not send cards at all, finding them less than businesslike. Most, however, sent company holiday cards, avoiding the question of diversity by using generic phrases such as “Happy Holidays” or “Joy in the Coming Year.” But one company got a little more creative.

JaneAnne Allen, a CEO of a small business in Boston, Massachusetts, said her company showed its holiday cheer with a good dose of humor, sending out a “do-it-yourself holiday card” created by the marketing department. On the front, the words “Wishing You . . .” are followed by a list of holiday greetings—“Merry Christmas,” “Happy Hanukkah,” “Joyous Kwanzaa,” “Wondrous Solstice,” “Delightful Boxing Day,” and “Warm Winter”—each with its own check-off box. Inside, the card reads, “Whatever you celebrate, may you enjoy peace in this season and a wonderful New Year.”

Oh, did we mention the company creates humorous greeting cards? In this case, the humor works by reflecting the company’s business. However, if you run a more serious business, such as a consulting firm or a real estate company, think twice before using humor.

And of course, whatever you celebrate at this time of year, we at UpWrite Press wish you a happy, peaceful holiday season and a healthy, prosperous New Year.

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eTips is a publication of UpWrite Press, Inc., P.O. Box 460, Burlington, Wisconsin 53105. Copyright © 2007, UpWrite Press. All rights reserved. Visit www.upwritepress.com.