May 2013  
UpWrite Press Writing eTips

UpWrite Press will be attending the ASTD (American Society for Training & Development) 2013 Conference.

We’ll be at booth 1622. Please stop by and visit.

One lucky organization will receive a free pilot training package!

Test Your Writing Acumen

The colon and the semicolon are easily misused, probably because they look similar, and both are used to separate items. The problem is that the marks’ specific uses do differ. Test your knowledge of these punctuation marks with the sentence pairs below. In each case, decide which sentence is punctuated correctly.

    1. My idea for increasing production is simple: motivate the workers.
    2. My idea for increasing production is simple; motivate the workers.
    1. I had planned to get there this morning: however, I missed my plane.
    2. I had planned to get there this morning; however, I missed my plane.
    1. Einstein once made this sage comment: “A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.”
    2. Einstein once made this sage comment; “A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.”
    1. We’ll need packing tape, the clear kind: rope: and brown wrapping paper.
    2. We’ll need packing tape, the clear kind; rope; and brown wrapping paper.
    1. The climb is steep: be sure to wear hiking shoes.
    2. The climb is steep; be sure to wear hiking shoes.
    1. I would love to go to that concert tomorrow: but if I’m still feeling ill, I’ll have to pass.
    2. I would love to go to that concert tomorrow; but if I’m still feeling ill, I’ll have to pass.

Answers can be found near the end of this newsletter.

The Traits of Writing: Ideas

Writing depends on ideas—what else would you write about? In business, you learn to refine your ideas to meet the needs of your target audience. To that end, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. What is my main idea? Every piece of writing ought to be guided by a main idea. Whether that idea is selling a product, establishing a relationship, or dealing with some other matter, everything in the piece must relate to that main point.
  2. Is the idea clear? Does your language present and explain the idea plainly? Do you answer questions and clear up any misconceptions your reader may have?
  3. Is the idea adequately supported? Once you establish the focus of the piece, you must supply enough details to flesh out that idea. Answer the questions who? what? where? when? why? and how? to establish and fully explain your idea.

Once you are certain of your ideas and have gathered enough details, you are ready to move on in the process of creating a strong, effective piece of writing.

You can find more information about the traits of writing beginning on page 9 in Write for Business: A Compact Guide to Writing and Communicating in the Workplace.

Trainer Tip

Do you belong to any professional associations or trade organizations? These industry groups can be a good source for free or low-cost training opportunities. Review your membership benefits to see if you can take advantage of online or in-person seminars and training sessions.

That Little Extra

A recent survey by the American Management Association put forth the idea that the best employees utilize the “four C’s”—critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity. In this fast-changing business climate, these are the skills that will help businesses to adapt and move forward. Interestingly, the survey suggests that older employees are more likely to have these skills, although younger workers can learn them through training and mentoring programs.

   

May 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.

Every office puts out memos, and on occasion a memo will seem (shall we say it?) silly. Share with us the “funniest” memo you’ve seen. (Please withhold names of individuals and companies. We will publish these anonymously.)

Email your response to writersforum@upwritepress.com. Write “May 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. My idea for increasing production is simple: motivate the workers.
      [Use a colon to introduce explanatory material.]
    2. My idea for increasing production is simple; motivate the workers.
    1. I had planned to get there this morning: however, I missed my plane.
    2. I had planned to get there this morning; however, I missed my plane.
      [Use a semicolon before a conjunctive adverb that connects two independent clauses.]
    1. Einstein once made this sage comment: “A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.”
      [Use a colon following an independent clause that introduces a statement, question, or quotation.]
    2. Einstein once made this sage comment; “A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.”
    1. We’ll need packing tape, the clear kind: rope: and brown wrapping paper.
    2. We’ll need packing tape, the clear kind; rope; and brown wrapping paper.
      [Use a semicolon to separate items in a list when one or more of the items also include a comma.]
    1. The climb is steep: be sure to wear hiking shoes.
    2. The climb is steep; be sure to wear hiking shoes.
      [Use a semicolon to connect two related independent clauses.]
    1. I would love to go to that concert tomorrow: but if I’m still feeling ill, I’ll have to pass.
    2. I would love to go to that concert tomorrow; but if I’m still feeling ill, I’ll have to pass.
      [Use a semicolon to connect two independent clauses joined by a coordinating conjunction if one or both of the clauses contain commas.]

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 June

The Traits of Writing: Organization

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