December 2013  
UpWrite Press Writing eTips

Test Your Writing Acumen

How do you decide whether to use words (four) or numerals (4) for numbers in your documents? This is a question that often plagues business writers. Below are eight sentences that contain written-out numbers and numerals in italics. Your job is to decide if they are being used correctly. Careful, some are tricky.

  1. There were only six people at the meeting, too few for a quorum.
  2. The new parking lot will contain 22 more parking spaces.
  3. 17 people were injured in the bus crash.
  4. We sold 14 cases of bulbs, beating our old record of nine cases.
  5. We planned to meet at 3 o’clock on Tuesday.
  6. Her plane is due to arrive at 2:37 p.m.
  7. The motion passed by a 2/3 margin.
  8. We’ll start the project on May first.

You can check your answers at the end of this newsletter.

Using the Writing Process

Following a process is key to completing most tasks—from delivering mail to manufacturing hula hoops to building a skyscraper. Writing is no exception. Using the following process will help you create clearer, stronger documents.

  • Prewriting. Focus and arrange your thoughts. Prewriting includes anything you do before actually beginning to write. This is the time to determine your purpose, establish your audience, decide on a format, research needed details, and develop an outline.
  • Drafting. Get your ideas down on paper without worrying about grammar and other mechanics. Write the rough draft freely, including all the information the piece requires, understanding that you will delete and add ideas later.
  • Revising. Go through your rough draft and make any needed changes. This is the time to move your ideas around for greatest impact, add missing details, and cut any “deadwood.” Revising involves fixing problems, tightening sentences, and changing words to create your individual voice and clarify your message.
  • Refining. Edit your revised draft, checking and perfecting your spelling, punctuation, grammar, and usage. After completing a clean copy, proofread it carefully and, if you can, ask a colleague to proofread it.

That’s a nutshell overview of the writing process. Follow it, and your writing will not only have fewer false starts but also be more effective.

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

Trainer Tip

When new hires are added to the employee mix, they need an orientation period in order to succeed in their jobs. Current employees can be assigned as mentors to help newcomers acclimate to the culture of your particular work environment. Besides carefully matching mentors to new hires, train mentors to follow these guidelines:

  1. Be positive. New employees will make mistakes. Provide positive feedback and avoid negativity, always explaining or modeling the correct way to do something.
  2. Provide incremental responsibility. Gradually build a new hire’s skill base by teaching and practicing one skill before advancing to another.
  3. Allow for personality differences. Be ready to work with all personality types. Either adjust to difficult situations, or report difficulties to your supervisor.

That Little Extra

Are you writing an “About Us” page for your company Web site? When considering the “Us” part, include your reader, not just your company. All too often, “About Us” pages read as self-congratulatory lists of accomplishments—just another effort to impress. Without a direct connection to the reader, reciting your achievements will seem hollow.

As you prepare your “About Us” page, then, take care to draw interest rather than merely push information. Relate your successes to the needs that you’ve met. Tell your reader how what you do applies to his or her own business.

   

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.

As 2013 winds down, we’d love to have you share with our readers your favorite tips for growing your business and getting new clients. We may all benefit from trying some new ideas in 2014.

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. There were only six people at the meeting, too few for a quorum.
    (Correct. In general, spell out the numbers one through nine.)
  2. The new parking lot will contain 22 more parking spaces.
    (Correct. In general, use numerals for the numbers 10 and above.)
  3. 17 people were injured in the bus crash.
    (Incorrect. Spell out numbers when they begin a sentence: Seventeen people were injured in the bus crash.)
  4. We sold 14 cases of bulbs, beating our old record of nine cases.
    (Incorrect. When you use more than one number in a comparable way, be consistent—either use words or numerals for all the numbers: We sold fourteen cases of bulbs, beating our old record of nine cases. / We sold 14 cases of bulbs, beating our old record of 9 cases.)
  5. We planned to meet at 3 o’clock on Tuesday.
    (Incorrect. Spell out numbers used with o’clock: We planned to meet at three o’clock on Tuesday.)
  6. Her plane is due to arrive at 2:37 p.m.
    (Correct. Use numerals for time designations followed by “a.m.” or “p.m.”)
  7. The motion passed by a 2/3 margin.
    (Incorrect. In text, spell out simple fractions, using a hyphen between the two words: The motion passed by a two-thirds margin.)
  8. We’ll start the project on May first.
    (Incorrect. Use cardinal numerals for dates that include the month, even though they may be pronounced first, second, and so on: We’ll start the project on May 1. However, when no month is mentioned, use the spelled-out ordinal number: We’ll start the project on May 1 and complete it by the fifteenth.

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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