The Write Stuff
Spring 2006 Volume 2 Issue 2
Springing Forward as a Professional
To celebrate the beginning of daylight savings time, I’d like to provide some illuminating tips to ensure you look like a professional in everything you write. It makes a difference-your “personal stock” will plunge if you communicate like a sixth grader, and it’s likely you’ll lose business as well.
Make sure you’re not the subject of whispers because of your writing ineptitude by either improving your own skills, or working with a professional who can make you look good. Here are a few tips, selected based on errors that recently have crossed my desk:
- Apostrophe usage. Apostrophes are used to denote possession (Adrienne’s newsletter) and to take the place of missing letters in contractions (don’t stop reading). It can make a huge difference when you misuse them. Recently, for instance, I received an e-mail from my insurance company asking me to answer questions about “you’re” policy. Surely they meant to use “your.”
- Comma usage. Commas are handy to use to help readers navigate through copy. For some reason, many writers have an aversion to them, and that makes the things they write difficult to read. If you must, read your text out loud; where there are conversational pauses, you need commas.
- Word usage. Be certain you are using the right word for the circumstance. For instance, “there” and “their” are often used incorrectly. There is an adverb used to indicate a place-“We’re going there for dinner.” Their is an adjective that denotes possession-“This is their home.” While they’re pronounced identically, these two words’ meanings are quite different, so don’t interchange them.Capitalization is another issue for many writers. Proper nouns (such as San Diego) are capitalized, but things can get confusing from there. For instance, titles are capitalized when they precede a name (Mayor Jerry Sanders), but lowercased elsewhere (Jerry Sanders, mayor of San Diego). In addition, references to organizations other than their actual names are not capitalized. The words company and bank, when used alone, are not capitalized.
Happy spring and happy writing! Take pains to look good in all your written communications.