Please

Please

Recently, I participated in an online group discussion with fellow tech communicators expressing their views about the topic of using the word “please” at the beginning of procedural steps. You probably read procedures when you install software or use a product for the first time: Rotate the left housing as illustrated. Push the OPEN button… Continue Reading

Mind your “WEs” and “YOUs”

Mind your “WEs” and “YOUs”

I received two “you” messages recently. The first shows how NOT to use the “you” message: A client snarled, “What part of “no” don’t you understand?” (Really. I quit the contract immediately.) The second was an offer from my favorite airline, apologizing for a recent flight delay of three hours and offering me 5000 free… Continue Reading

Just revise

Just revise

“I’m a rewriter. That’s the part I like best…once I have a pile of paper to work with, it’s like having the pieces of a puzzle. I just have to put the pieces together to make a picture.” Judy Blume, American author, 1938- Judy Blume spoke the obvious: A writer has to write a draft… Continue Reading

Getting feedback: Number your lines

Getting feedback: Number your lines

In my last blog post, I discussed some emotional difficulties of accepting feedback on your writing. This post will share a practical suggestion to help you improve the review process, whether you are the reviewer or the author. For our discussion, let’s assume that you are seeking feedback on a Microsoft® Word document and want… Continue Reading

Accepting feedback? Take what you like; leave the rest

Accepting feedback? Take what you like; leave the rest

  When I teach about feedback in my technical writing webinars, I often quote these words of Frank Norris*: “I hate to write, but I like to have written.”* I would slightly reframe this comment: “I hate to receive feedback about my writing, but I like to have received that feedback.” Why would I want… Continue Reading

Are three options more persuasive than one in a proposal?

Good things come in threes, they say, and maybe that’s true in proposals as well, if Alan Weiss is right. Weiss, the author of Million Dollar Consulting Proposals, suggests that offering a low-, mid-, and high-priced option in a proposal allows your client (or boss or department inside your organization) to choose based on their… Continue Reading

Questions, questions everywhere–I hope they make me think!

“I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious.” Albert Einstein, physicist, 1879-1955 I have serious doubts about Einstein’s not having special talent, but I do believe the second sentence and try to apply passionate curiosity to all facets of my life. I have been especially thinking about curiosity recently after publishing a 3-page… Continue Reading

A tale of two (actually three) English grammar texts

I had an interesting conversation with my friend Michael Franklin at the AMWA (American Medical Writers Association) conference in Columbus last month. He told me of a must-read grammar text, Understanding English Grammar by Martha Kolln and Robert Funk, that he had studied in graduate school. I nearly fainted when I saw the price at… Continue Reading