November 2011  
UpWrite Press Writing eTips

Test Your Writing Acumen

Here’s a quick brainteaser to test your knowledge of writing and grammar.

The apostrophe is perhaps the most misused punctuation mark in English. Test your skill by choosing the correct answer in each example below:

  1. The (peoples’, people’s) decision was made apparent by the vote.
  2. We decided to go with (Ann and Susan’s, Ann’s and Susan’s) idea.
  3. We decided to go with both (Ann and Susan’s, Ann’s and Susan’s) ideas.
  4. That is my (sister-in-law’s, sister’s-in-law) design.
  5. We deferred to our (bosses’, bosses’s) final decisions.

Online Writing 2: Blogging

Blogging is big, and many businesses, realizing the value of a vast online audience, are launching into the blogosphere. If you plan on creating a blog for your business, you should be aware of a few tricks and techniques for an effective online presence.

  • Decide who will be handling the blog. Then use a proofreader and fact checker to assure that every statement is clear and correct.
  • Set your tone. Is your blog strictly informative, or entertaining? If more than one person is providing entries, set ground rules for consistent content and voice.
  • Know your blog’s purpose and your audience. Are you serving others in your industry, or the average consumer? This will make a difference in both your presentation and your language.
  • Update entries frequently and regularly. If your blog is interesting enough, people will want to know when to look for new entries. Write blog entries in advance and stockpile them. That way, if you are too busy to write, you can still post something new to keep readers interested.
  • Keep your entries concise and your paragraphs short. Make your blog visually attractive, using an eye-catching format that includes bullets, headings, and images.
  • Offer valuable advice, not just sales material. For example, if your company sells vacuum cleaners, don’t just promote the latest model. Offer practical advice on consumer concerns such as maintenance or warranties.

Happy blogging!

Teacher Tips

Let’s face facts: We all learn best what we want to learn—i.e., material important to our own lives. Remember that when you’re preparing for your next training session. Consider how to make the material relevant to your trainees. And always emphasize how the information will make their jobs better/easier/safer/more fulfilling. If you can convince them of the benefits, they will make the effort to listen, learn, and comply.

That Little Extra

If you send out holiday cards or gifts to your customers, it’s time again to think about this year’s offering. Order early enough so you have the time to personalize the items or include an ad message. If you have a lot of longtime customers, it’s a nice touch to send something different each year. Instead of the usual calendar or pen, put a little thought into it. For example, if you are a wine merchant, how about a personalized wine stopper or pourer? A veterinarian might give clients a little “doggy (or kitty) bag” of special treats. Here’s an idea—how about offering a special free app for your clients’ smartphones? You’ll find many unusual and useful items at business supply companies and in specialized catalogs.

Solution to this month’s brainteaser:

  1. People’s is correct. Since the plural word people doesn’t end in s, add an apostrophe-s to form the possessive:
    The people’s decision was made apparent by the vote.
  2. Ann and Susan’s is correct. Since both people own one idea, place the apostrophe-s after the last person’s name:
    We decided to go with Ann and Susan’s idea.
  3. Ann’s and Susan’s is correct. Since each person has her own idea, each name requires the possessive ending:
    We decided to go with both Ann’s and Susan’s ideas.
  4. Sister-in-law’s is correct. In a compound noun, the possessive ending belongs after the last word:
    That is my sister-in-law’s design.
  5. Bosses’ is correct. Since the plural word bosses ends in s, add just an apostrophe to form the possessive:
    We deferred to our bosses’ final decisions.
   

November Writers' Forum Topic

Here’s your chance to tell us how your work environment operates. Send us your responses to the forum question below, and we’ll print the most interesting in our eTips Mid-Month Mini.

We all love the TV shows and movies set in an office where the main character develops a friendship—even a familial relationship—with coworkers, despite their crustiness or humorous quirks. We’d all love to be in such a warm, fuzzy situation, but is it feasible? How do you view your coworkers? Do you socialize with them outside of the office? Would you want to? For this one, we won’t print anyone’s name—that could be awkward—so feel free to be as honest as you like.

E-mail your response to writersforum@upwritepress.com. Write “November Writers’ Forum” in the subject line, and you could see your reply in the eTips Mid-Month Mini.

We Want to Hear from You!

This is your chance to be part of the UpWrite Press newsletters and blogs. What writing topics do you want to hear about? Have you any favorite communications tips you’d like to share? What words do you constantly mix up? Send us your ideas, and you could see your name in Writing eTips or the Mid-Month Mini.

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Coming in November

Using Social Media in Business

eTips is a publication of UpWrite Press, P.O. Box 460, Burlington, Wisconsin 53105.
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