April 2014  
UpWrite Press Writing eTips

Test Your Writing Acumen

Using quotation marks with other punctuation marks can be tricky. Check your knowledge by deciding if the following sentences are properly punctuated, or if they need some tweaking.

  1. “Don’t go in there”, Anna warned.
  2. Did she say, “Don’t go in there”?
  3. I asked him, “What do you mean”?
  4. She convinced me to read the article “Working Efficiently;” now I want to reorganize the office.
  5. I would use the word pathetic to describe our old copier.
  6. I like Katy Perry’s song “Roar,” released on August 12, 2013.

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

Choosing Your Message Options

Back in the ’70s, the impact of new and changing media was just being felt when Marshall McLuhan made his now-famous statement, “The medium is the message.” McLuhan most likely could not have imagined the array of media we now face, but nowhere is his comment more applicable than in today’s world of business communications. The medium you choose can impact your audience as much as the message does, so choose wisely. The discussion below considers the advantages and disadvantages of various messaging options.

Casual, Spontaneous Options

Immediate media such as text messaging, phone calls, social media, and face-to-face meetings fall into this category.

Advantages: These are quick communication options and allow for back-and-forth, one-to-one conversations without delay. Use them for brainstorming or when you need an immediate response.

Disadvantages: Such speedy options may result in careless responses or decisions. They also do not easily provide a permanent record of what transpired. Avoid these methods when discussing critical issues that require deep thought or later reference.

Semiformal, Moderate Options

Email, blog posts, meeting minutes, and basic business letters fall into this category.

Advantages: These message options can be quickly generated and do leave a permanent record. They are appropriate for the general exchange of ideas among a wider audience.

Disadvantages: Even though these forms are relatively speedy, they do take thought and time and don’t deliver the immediate response and idea exchange of the more casual options.

Formal, Deliberate Options

More structured forms, including proposals, reports, instructions, presentations, and management material, comprise this category.

Advantages: These options showcase your best thought and can supply important information to a wide audience, often in the form of a permanent document.

Disadvantages: Although such forms serve a high purpose, they take a lot of time and effort to produce. They require your best writing, which will be critically reviewed by an interested audience.

Conclusion

Always consider your purpose and your audience when choosing the best medium for your message. No matter how much or how little time and effort is required, the goal of clearly sharing the right message is preeminent.

You can find more on workplace communication beginning on page 137 in Write for Business: A Compact Guide to Writing and Communicating in the Workplace.

Trainer Tip

When you train workers, be sure that they have an immediate opportunity to use what they have learned. Trainees are likely to forget new ideas without this practical application—the physical act of actually doing something cements the knowledge into memory. As Gloria Steinem said, “Tell me and I’ll forget. Show me and I may not remember. Involve me and I’ll understand.”

That Little Extra

Now it’s easier than ever to monitor and improve your communication skills. A little research will turn up apps—many of them free—to help you organize your ideas, improve your grammar, create stunning presentations, develop charts and graphs, generate spreadsheets, and even write a business plan.

   

April 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.

How does your company use social media? Please share your best-use tips for various sites and tell us how a social-media presence has impacted your business.

Email your response to writersforum@upwritepress.com. Write “April 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. “Don’t go in there”, Anna warned. Incorrect. A comma separating a quotation from the rest of the sentence belongs inside the quotation mark: “Don’t go in there,” Anna warned.
  2. Did she say, “Don’t go in there”? Correct. When the question mark punctuates the main sentence rather than the quotation, it belongs outside the quotation mark.
  3. I asked him, “What do you mean”? Incorrect. When the question mark punctuates the quotation, not the main sentence, it belongs inside the quotation mark: I asked him, “What do you mean?”
  4. She convinced me to read the article “Working Efficiently;” now I want to reorganize the office. Incorrect. The semicolon punctuates the first independent clause in this sentence, and so it belongs outside the quotation mark: She convinced me to read the article “Working Efficiently”; now I want to reorganize the office.
  5. I would use the word pathetic to describe our old copier. Incorrect. When a word is discussed as a word, it should be enclosed in quotation marks: I would use the word “pathetic” to describe our old copier.
  6. I like Katy Perry’s song “Roar,” released on August 12, 2013. Correct. Single works such as songs, poems, and short stories require quotation marks, and a comma that separates extra information following the title belongs inside the quotation mark.

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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Tricky Subject-Verb Agreement

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