February 2013  
UpWrite Press Writing eTips

Test Your Writing Acumen

Let’s have a little comma fun again this month. That typographic curl is probably the most troublesome punctuation mark in our language, so reviewing its uses may help. Select the correctly punctuated sentence from each pair below.

  1. a. The refrigerator was marked at $1,980 on sale.
    b. The refrigerator was marked at $1980 on sale.
  2. a. Marj Norquist, MBA, ran the campaign.
    b. Marj Norquist MBA ran the campaign.
  3. a. The final judgment will be handed down on March 16 2013.
    b. The final judgment will be handed down on March 16, 2013.
  4. a. Alyssa said the machine was jammed.
    b. Alyssa said, the machine was jammed.
  5. a. I will let you know Jamie when we schedule the meeting.
    b. I will let you know, Jamie, when we schedule the meeting.
  6. a. Whatever you want to be be it.
    b. Whatever you want to be, be it.

Answers can be found at the end of this newsletter.

Writing with Purpose: Good or Neutral News

Who doesn’t love good news? We love receiving it, and, to spread a little happiness, we love sending it. Neutral news, while not as exciting, can also be a pleasure to receive and send. It often delivers some very useful information.

Whether writing good or neutral news, use a standard format that includes an opening, a middle, and a closing. Each part performs a specific function.

  • Opening—Present your main point right at the start, either as a statement, question, or request:
    1. Congratulations! You are the winner of the Happy Home makeover contest.
    2. Have you considered how your current savings plan will affect your retirement years?
    3. Thank you for your recent purchase of the X50 Copier. We would appreciate your feedback on the enclosed prepaid survey card.
  • Middle—Support your main point with details, keeping your tone positive:
    1. Your entry was selected from the hundreds received.
    2. We would like to invite you to a free seminar explaining the different plans available to you.
    3. You have long been a valued customer, and we want to be sure you are satisfied with your latest purchase.
  • Closing—If an action is required, include next steps along with contact information:
    1. Our representative will be contacting you by phone within the next two weeks to answer any questions and begin your home’s makeover process.
    2. Please RSVP with the enclosed card so we can know how many people are interested in attending.
    3. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact us at 555-555-5555 or email us at customers@_____.com.
    If no action is needed, simply close in a polite, professional manner.

You can find more information about writing good news beginning on page 93 in Write for Business: A Compact Guide to Writing and Communicating in the Workplace.

Trainer Tip

If you must write a report or proposal, save yourself some time by reviewing previous, similar documents. For example, if you are writing a monthly report, consider past reports and use the same format if applicable, adjusting numbers or details as needed. This will save time and also provide a familiar, proven form for your readers.

That Little Extra

Training goes beyond the office. Consider the importance of “training” the public to recognize your brand. Trade shows and conventions present the perfect opportunity to familiarize the public with your product or service. So go and meet your public at these shows. Use clever, eye-catching visuals to draw a crowd. Give away samples and handouts. Magnets, book bags, and other useful items marked with your logo will imprint your name on the minds of potential customers. They’ll be trained to think of you when the need for your particular product or service arises.

   

February 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.

Whether you need to inform, discuss, or brainstorm, meetings are a necessary part of running a business. Sometimes, however, it’s impossible to get everyone together at one time. How do you handle the challenge of keeping everyone on the same page when joint scheduling is impossible?

Email your response to writersforum@upwritepress.com. Write “February 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. a. The refrigerator was marked at $1,980 on sale.
    b. The refrigerator was marked at $1980 on sale.

    Use commas to separate the numerals in large numbers by placing a comma before every third digit, counting backward from the last digit. / Notes: (1) In scientific writing, numbers between 1000 and 9999 typically do not include a comma. (2) In the International System of Units, spaces are used to mark off groups of three digits—2 540 634 rather than 2,540,634. (3) In many non-English documents, a comma is used as a decimal—4,75 cm rather that 4.75 cm.

  2. a. Marj Norquist, MBA, ran the campaign.
    b. Marj Norquist MBA ran the campaign.

    Use commas to separate a title that follows a name.

  3. a. The final judgment will be handed down on March 16 2013.
    b. The final judgment will be handed down on March 16, 2013.

    Use commas to separate the day from the year in a date. / Note: International style calls for day-month-year, with no commas—16 March 2013.

  4. a. Alyssa said the machine was jammed.
    b. Alyssa said, the machine was jammed.

    Do not use a comma to separate an indirect quotation.

  5. a. I will let you know Jamie when we schedule the meeting.
    b. I will let you know, Jamie, when we schedule the meeting.

    Use commas to set off a vocative (noun of direct address).

  6. a. Whatever you want to be be it.
    b. Whatever you want to be, be it.

    Use commas for clarity and to avoid confusion.

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 March

Writing with Purpose: Bad News

eTips is a publication of UpWrite Press, P.O. Box 460, Burlington, Wisconsin 53105.
Copyright © 2013, UpWrite Press. All rights reserved. Visit www.upwritepress.com.