Ah, jargon. The business writer’s bane. (And, let’s be honest here, very occasionally the business writer’s savior. It’s late. You’re on deadline. You need to shoehorn a 50-word description into a 30-word elevator pitch. It happens. But we aspire to better things.) If you’ve ever struggled with the lure of business/marcomm/tech jargon—or laughed at its […]
In today’s post, the serial comma—also known as the Oxford comma. For those of us who may become rather focused on such things, the debate about “serial comma, yes or no?” can be serious business. Commas are wonderful tools. They convey changes of direction, clarify sentences, indicate pauses, and flag upcoming dialogue. In marketing communications, […]
Your Highness: I’m clued in enough to laugh at those parodies of over-the-top business jargon that periodically make the rounds… but I’m also quite aware of the need to keep my job fit in by embracing the specialized language of my professional peers. What’s an English major turned midlevel marketing manager to do? My dear […]
Your Highness: I’m not much of a writer but, like so many of your loyal subjects, I have a job that often requires me to write. I want to be professional—and avoid embarrassing mistakes. I need an on-call editor. Or at least a cheat sheet. Please help! My dear Subject, Ah, English! Constantly changing, constantly […]
Your Highness: I hold a job that requires I write articles, press releases, and similar pieces in which I quote others. You’d think I’d have such matters down by now, but I’ll come clean: I never really learned the rules for using quotation marks. To complicate matters further, I’m a bit of an Anglophile—only the […]
Your Highness: I have a confession to make: I live in fear of the semicolon. As phobias go, I know it could be worse. I could have an aversion to, say, spiders, or maybe conference calls or my BlackBerry. Which would really be unfortunate, since I work in marketing. Anyway. I’m tired of worrying about […]
You’ve made it through 364 days without killing your relationship. Good for you! Now it’s Valentine’s Day – the day your Significant Other will scrutinize everything about you. Even your grammar. If you can just get through February 14 without committing a major gaffe, you should be OK for another year. Here are seven costly […]
An ingenious teacher uses a UN-sponsored online game to teach grammar–and philanthropy.
As our fingers fly across our smartphones, we’ve developed a shorthand way to dash off messages without spending too much time on the finer points of spelling and grammar. “C U later” and “gr8” substitute for actual language when we’re communicating via the small screen. Makes you wonder what the great writers would have done […]
When we’re aiming for highly readable text, we should use words with fewer syllables and write sentences that don’t ramble. Here’s how to follow the stats to top readability.
Many of my business contacts and coworkers know me primarily through e-mail; the impression I make is almost entirely via the written word. What can I do to avoid embarrassing myself in writing? The Grammar Queen points the way.
If you’ve read the fabulous Grammar Queen’s post on creating a corporate style guide (and if you haven’t read it, do so right now), you know you must make some decisions about how your organization crosses the t’s and dots the i’s. However, you can’t possibly list every grammar or style rule in your own […]
Your Highness: I work in marketing at a midsized technology firm. My boss tells me we need a style guide. Yesterday. And I’m just the person to produce it. While I do some writing as part of my job, and I can put commas where they belong—OK, most of the time—I’m not a writer or […]
Your Highness: This letter is being written because I’ve been told that there is a problem with my writing. Specifically, a problem with the passive voice. But understanding this is difficult. I mean, my job is in marketing. I’m supposed to be good with words. And language has always come easily to me—out-of-the-box thinking is […]
Your Highness: As part of my job in a large corporation, I must communicate in writing with my colleagues and customers. I’m a bit embarrassed to admit this, holding as I do a degree from a fancy business school and all, but here goes: When it comes to grammar, I’ve been faking it for 34 […]