This is a “hurrah, we’ve been waiting for you” tribute to the new and final edition of The Gregg Reference Manual: A Manual of Style, Grammar, Usage, and Formatting Tribute Edition published in March of 2010. Its coming is bittersweet.
William A. Sabin (1931-2009) devoted his life to editing The Gregg Reference Manual (GRM). . . . → Read More: A Tribute to the Gregg Reference Manual—the gatekeeper of business grammar since the 1950s
The Hard Way The correct use of who and whom, like all personal pronouns, depends on how the pronoun functions in the sentence. Pronouns either function as the subject of the verb or the object of the verb. The difficulty of who and whom, unlike other personal pronouns, is that it’s not easy to . . . → Read More: Choosing Who or Whom with Confidence is as Easy as 1, 2, 3.
An engineer at the United States Norfolk Naval Base asked, “Why are so many procedure manuals impossible to read?”
The answer is two-fold. First, most instructions are written from the wrong point of view:
Users want a reading as I work viewpoint that answers the simple question, “What do I do next?” (Think recipe . . . → Read More: With Procedure Writing, Point of View is Everything
The Productivity Problem Poorly written emails create confusion, hinder progress, and derail projects. Most people ramble as they type in the hope that something will get done.
The Productivity Solution Well-written emails, on the other hand, help people solve problems, meet important deadlines, and keep projects on target. When you write, remember: clear writing . . . → Read More: The Productivity Checklist
Eighty percent of all emails and reports that you write has a list of key points. This could be a list of reasons, alternatives, findings, conclusions, chronological events (background), steps in a process, and so forth. How you frame your list determines whether people will understand it. Most people hide their list buried within . . . → Read More: Find Your Hidden List
Finesse with Tone Tone is the Sweet in the KISS principle: Keep it Short and Sweet. This principle reminds you to get things done in paragraph one using a positive tone. Tone is not what you say; it’s how you say it.
Your tone should create a spirit of cooperation and leave your readers . . . → Read More: Finesse With Tone
The purpose of business writing is to take care of business. Business writing is about getting things done—solving problems, meeting important deadlines, and keeping projects on target. When business professionals, especially senior management teams, remember this function of writing, everyone within an organization becomes more productive. Not only will senior managers increase their productivity, . . . → Read More: Avoid Hidden Verbs
When you write in business, you will be more effective when you use plain language. This means using short words, short sentences…and active voice. Use the active voice when you want to be direct, brief, and natural.
People use the active voice almost entirely when speaking because it is natural and easy to understand. . . . → Read More: Write in Active Voice
Readers are likely to stop reading at the first point of confusion—and this is true whether the writer is a CEO or an intern. So, to keep readers on-message, use short, simple words to make your meaning clear.
Remember the Purpose of Business Writing Business professionals are neither reading at leisure nor reading for . . . → Read More: Use Short, Simple Words
A Guideline for Sentence Length Make your business writing easy to read by using short sentences:
In letters, memos and e-mails, use an average sentence length of 12 to 15 words. In formal reports and technical documents, keep the average sentence length to about 20.
Short sentences usually contain one main idea that readers . . . → Read More: Use Short Sentences