December 2012  
UpWrite Press Writing eTips

Test Your Writing Acumen

Past tests have included forming the plurals of words ending in “o” or “y.” This month, we look at some other rules for forming plurals. In each of the sentences below, select the correct plural form from the pair in parentheses.

  1. Please take all those broken (box’s, boxes) to the recycling center.
  2. Of all my (brothers-in-law, brother-in-laws), Paul is my favorite.
  3. The report uses too many (ifs and maybes, if’s and maybe’s) to engender confidence.
  4. Tim is an expert on river (species’s, species) that have gone extinct.
  5. Roger baked ten (loafs, loaves) of bread for the bake sale.
  6. Three texts in the series need their (appendices, appendixes) proofread.
  7. Right now we are at (six’s and seven’s, sixes and sevens) with the expansion.
  8. DeShawn offered several possible (stimuli, stimuluses) to boost our sales.
  9. The search committee has received some impressive (vitas, vitae) from prospective administrators.
  10. The (1930’s, 1930s) were a distressing time economically for many people worldwide.

Refining Your Message

During previous steps in the writing process, you gathered details and found a focus (prewriting), wrote a rough first version (drafting), and checked the content and organization for completeness and clarity (revising). The final step is refining, in which you edit and proofread your message (for grammar, punctuation, spelling, and mechanics errors) and make sure the format and design are appropriate.

  1. Organize your work space.
    Have all your necessary tools on hand, including your dictionary (hard copy or computer program) and any applicable style guide.
  2. Give yourself enough time.
    If you rush, you could miss something. Allow enough time to thoroughly check your writing, and plan extra time for more important pieces.
  3. Follow a plan.
    Start by searching for errors in mechanics, grammar, and word usage. Use your computer’s spell-checker and grammar checker. Check your format against similar documents and a style guide.
  4. Finalize.
    Ask a coworker to proofread the document as well. If necessary, share it with your company’s legal counsel. Print your piece and proofread it one last time.

By following the writing process, you will create the best piece of writing possible. This attention to detail will be appreciated by your readers.

You can find more information about the writing process beginning on page 71 in Write for Business: A Compact Guide to Writing and Communicating in the Workplace.

Trainer Tip

Plan training sessions only when they are truly needed. Consider how the training will enhance your workers’ skills and meet specific needs. Also remember that it is perfectly acceptable to offer training to a small group—not everyone in the office needs to be proficient in every skill. Efficient training enhances the workplace, focuses on needed skills, and improves the overall performance of your staff.

That Little Extra

The holiday season has arrived again, when gifts and good wishes are exchanged. If your business sends out printed holiday cards to clients or customers, take the time to add a personal, handwritten note to those with whom you do business. It doesn’t have to be much—even a single sentence is fine—as long as it pertains to your relationship. For instance, if you know the name of a client’s spouse or have heard that one of his or her children recently experienced a special achievement, mention it. This tells people that you value them as more than business connections, and it will foster good will well into the coming year.

   

December 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.

Does your business do anything special at the holidays to reward employees or somehow let them know they are valued? We’d love to hear what different employers do for their staff at this special time of year.

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

Answers to This Month’s Quiz

  1. Please take all those broken (box’s, boxes) to the recycling center.
    Common nouns ending in ch, s, sh, x and z add es to form the plural.
  2. Of all my (brothers-in-law, brother-in-laws), Paul is my favorite.
    Hyphenated or open compound nouns add s or es to the main word to form the plural.
  3. The report uses too many (ifs and maybes, if’s and maybe’s) to engender confidence.
    Words discussed as words form the plural by adding an apostrophe and s.
  4. Tim is an expert on river (species’s, species) that have gone extinct.
    Some singular nouns retain the same spelling for the plural form. Other examples are sheep, offspring, and series.
  5. Roger baked ten (loafs, loaves) of bread for the bake sale.
    For nouns ending in “f,” change the “f” to “v” and add “es” when a “v” sound is heard in the plural form.
  6. Three texts in the series need their (appendices, appendixes) proofread.
    Either plural spelling is correct, but “appendixes” is now preferred. When in doubt, check your dictionary or office style guide.
  7. Right now we are at (six’s and seven’s, sixes and sevens) with the expansion.
    Just as other common nouns do, spelled-out numbers add s or es to form their plurals. Numerals, however, add an apostrophe and s, as in “6’s and 7’s.”
  8. DeShawn offered several possible (stimuli, stimuluses) to boost our sales.
    English words derived from different languages (“stimulus” is Latin) may spell plurals in a different way.
  9. The search committee has received some impressive (vitas, vitae) from prospective administrators.
    Many nouns ending in “a” add an “e” to form the plural. Other examples are pupa/pupae, larva/larvae, and alga/algae. Check your dictionary when you are uncertain.
  10. The (1930’s, 1930s) were a distressing time economically for many people worldwide.
    Usually, just an s is added to designate the years in a decade.

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.

Stay Connected

Twitter

RSS Feed

Facebook

Blog

iTunes

YouTube

Write for Business Blog

Recent entries…

 

Visit our blog for these and other great articles!

Affiliate Program

Earn money with UpWrite Press. Receive 5% of the net sale for every customer that makes a purchase through your affiliate link. Learn more

Featured Product

Write for Work is a practical guide to writing and communicating in the workplace. It's designed for students in 1- and 2-year degree programs or school-to-work programs. This flexible work-text provides extra support for students who’ve struggled with writing in the past.

Subscribe!

eTips is like finding a writing coach in your inbox. It includes the best writing information, helpful tips and advice, plus updates on evolving communication practices. Sign up today!

Have a Suggestion?

We are always looking for feedback on our eTips. If you have a suggestion, please tell us.

Coming in January

Relative Pronouns

eTips is a publication of UpWrite Press, P.O. Box 460, Burlington, Wisconsin 53105.
Copyright © 2012, UpWrite Press. All rights reserved. Visit www.upwritepress.com.