May 2014  
UpWrite Press Writing eTips

Employ your time in improving yourself by other men's writings so that you shall come easily by what others have labored hard for.

—Socrates

Word Pair of the Month: and, etc.

We offer these words as a pair because they both indicate that “there’s more to come,” but the practice of using them together forms a redundant phrase. Remember to use one or the other word when presenting a series.

Wrong:

Our Web site lists our fees for consultation, labor,
materials, and etc.

Correct:

Our Web site lists our fees for consultation, labor, materials, etc.
Our Web site lists our fees for consultation, labor, and materials.

Writers’ Forum Question

This month’s forum goes out to all employees who work for a manager or team leader. What are your manager’s best traits? Share with us the actions or qualities that especially drive your loyalty.

Thanks to all who responded to this month’s forum. It’s heartening to be assured there are so many excellent managers out there. Your positive remarks fell into several categories, with the best and most generally applicable ones included below.

Many comments deal with how managers handle accountability:

From Winston Chin of New York, NY:

My managing supervisor doesn’t do my job for me but encourages me to do things right on my own. While he trusts me to do my job, he’s always available to make suggestions and share his expertise. This is a managing style that earns respect and makes me want to do my best.

From Peter Granger of Baltimore, MD:

My manager is kind of like an invisible superhero—we don’t really see her until we need her, and then she appears to save the day. Even when that happens, she acknowledges the foundational work we did. Instead of taking over every project, she delegates authority and trusts us to make the right decisions. I once had a boss who hovered over me, always checking, challenging, or changing my work. Believe me, this is so much better.

A number of comments describe how managers communicate:

From Maria Velez of Miami, FL:

I appreciate the way my manager always lets me know where I stand in my job. When I do something well, he is there with praise and tells others about my achievements. But when I mess up, he talks to me in private about errors, explaining how I can do better. He doesn’t judge, either. He just makes it clear that he expects me to improve and tells me I can ask for help anytime.

From Travis Grant of Newark, NJ:

My team manager believes in making sure we are all in the loop, even though he does offer individual support when it’s necessary. We always know the status of a project since he keeps us connected through memos, emails, and texts.

More Reader Feedback

Cheryl Howlett, a technical writer, editor, and desktop publisher in Bellevue, WA, had this to say about our May eTips:

Thanks for keeping us entertained and on our toes. You were reaching for examples on the plurals quiz this month, though. A hole in one is quite the accomplishment (I should be so lucky). Who would ever get the chance to write about two?

Your example:

I couldn’t believe it when Art hit two (hole in ones/holes in one) yesterday.

That sounds like he hit two holes in one shot. On the other hand, since those are most likely on par 3 holes, you could safely rewrite:

I couldn’t believe it when Art hit two eagles yesterday.

Cheryl makes a good point about writing: If a sentence or passage is confusing or clumsy, it can often be rewritten to avoid the problem entirely. Here’s another alternative:

I couldn’t believe Art hit a hole in one twice yesterday.

Note that nothing reveals a trouble spot like another pair of eyes. So whenever possible, ask a colleague to review your text before publication.

A Final Thought

As tempting as it may be, don’t ever dash off a text or an email without proofreading. We’ve all heard funny stories about how autocorrect changed a message into a double entendre. Avoid that embarrassment—and others—by taking time to reread your message before hitting “send.”

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Coming in June

Tricky Subject-Verb Agreement Part 2

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