Tag Archives: email tips

What Is a Style Guide, and Why Do You Need One?

Whether for a person, a product, a service or an organization, creating a distinct, consistent brand is key to success.

Your brand sets you apart. You achieve a unique brand through images (your logo and product photos), through website content (descriptions of products and services), and through whatever additional forms of marketing and advertising you use.

Behind the scenes, your brand is supported by how you communicate with and serve your customers. Continue

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How to Use Apostrophes to Show Possession

apostrophe with possessivesConfused about where to place the apostrophe when you’re creating possessives?

So am I — especially when a noun (person, place or thing) or proper noun (specific person, place or thing) ends in the letter s or ss.

Consider these examples and how you would pronounce them: Continue

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5 Tips for Better Emails

Are you receiving more emails with a subject line unrelated to the content of the message — or with no subject line at all?

A blog subscriber designs websites and provides tech support, a service for which she issues monthly invoices. She sometimes gets confirmation of invoice receipt.

Lately, she has begun to receive emails with “invoice” in the subject line because someone took a shortcut and used REPLY to send a new message that has nothing to do with the invoice she sent.

Her concern: If a client has an immediate problem but the subject line does not convey urgency, her response and a critical remedy might be delayed. Her desire to provide excellent customer service can be thwarted when a client fails to make clear the nature — and related importance — of a message. Therefore …

TIP 1: Make your topic clear in the SUBJECT field.

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Let’s Talk About Redundancies ‘Any’ and ‘Reason Why’

redundancies AS and REASON WHYRegular blog followers probably know how I feel about redundancies. In terms of language, redundant means unnecessary, not required or called for.

The best writing uses the fewest words to express a thought. That’s why I’m targeting both any and reason why in this post.

Any

Any is a determiner, a word that comes before a noun and indicates how much or how little of that noun is being considered.

There are times when any is appropriate. If you deleted any in these examples, they would sound awkward or incomplete:

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When Does a Sentence Need ‘That’?

students_at_computerWe judge writing in part by how lean it is; proficient writers, bloggers, students — and ruthless editors — strive to convey a thought using the fewest words.

In my own writing and the editing I do for others, I sometimes pause when I come to that in a sentence: Is it necessary for clarity or flow? What are guidelines for the use of that?

There aren’t many! Writers can exercise discretion about when and how to use that.

Let’s start with some examples showing how the absence of that might cause a reader to pause and reread: Continue

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What is Syntax, and Why Does it Matter in Writing and Speaking?

guy_edits_syntaxIf you haven’t heard my definition of grammar, here it is:

Grammar encompasses the words we choose, how we string them together, and how we punctuate them to give them meaning.

The stringing-words-together part is called syntax: the arrangement of words and phrases to create well-formed sentences.

Why should you pay attention to syntax? Because the order of your words can be critical to making your message clear.

Consider these examples from a variety of online sources. You’ll find the original sentence, what’s wrong with it in terms of syntax, and a rewrite. Continue

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Can Google Be a Verb?

woman thinking about Google searchAs is the case with many nouns in the English language, frequent usage dictates that Google has evolved to a status of both a noun and a verb.

As a noun, Google is a search engine you can use to find a variety of online information. As a proper noun (a specific person, place or thing) and a trademark, it is capitalized.

As a verb, google is the action of using the search engine Google to find information on the internet. When used as a verb, google can be capitalized or expressed in lowercase letters.

Example: If you want to know who founded Google, just google it!
(Answer: Larry Page and Sergey Brin, in case you really want to know.) Continue

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How to Create and Punctuate Bullet Points

bullet_pointsBullet points help readers scan what you’ve written, quickly drawing attention to key issues and facts. They can tell readers what needs to be done, provide step-by-step instructions, highlight important elements, or list features.

Bullets can be round, square, triangular, diamond, or even customized or whimsical graphics. When listing steps to take, numbers can serve as bullet points to emphasize the correct sequence.

There are no fixed rules of grammar about how to use bullet points, but here are some guidelines. Continue

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Headline Lessons: Contractions, Redundancies, Verb Forms

HeadlinesToday is a holiday in the U.S. — The Fourth of July (Independence Day) — so many of you probably are not in your office or at your computer.

But my email list is not limited to U.S. residents, so I went to my latest collection of headlines to develop a post for those of you who are toiling through this American holiday.

Headlines and the grammar lessons they teach

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Writing Tips: 5 Techniques to Boost Your Readers’ Comprehension

Barbara McNichol

Whether it’s an email, a report, or a chapter in a book, are you sometimes challenged to make your writing easier to follow?

What are ways to create a smooth flow that guides your readers?

My friend and colleague Barbara McNichol, a nonfiction writing and editing expert, offers suggestions. Consider her tips to improve your writing: Continue

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