BIG help for a BIG document

BIG help for a BIG document

Against your will or better judgment, you may find yourself writing a BIG document (more than, say, 20 pages, possibly written over several weeks or months). BIG writing projects require you first to manage yourself; then manage your text; and finally, manage your technology. Managing yourself Self-discipline will help you survive and thrive on a… Continue Reading

Are you drowning in jargon?

Are you drowning in jargon?

My son’s voicemail said: “Hi, Mom. I’m in Minnie, on my way to Indy. I passed my FO. Call me after 7; up to then, I’ll be in the box.” Hello??? One short message, four uses of airline jargon. This message certainly was concise, but it wasn’t clear to me and therefore not complete. Bruce… Continue Reading

Plain writing is good writing

Plain writing is good writing

Clear writing is good, right? I certainly believe that to be true (after 25 years of teaching technical writing in corporations and organizations). I know that most people seek to write clearly and most readers appreciate reading clear technical and business writing. That’s why I teach the 5Cs of good writing—that writing must meet these… Continue Reading

Why bother with a style guide?

If you write or edit more than one document a day or work with other writers and editors, you need a style guide to provide guidance on style (language conventions with respect to spelling, punctuation, capitalization, and typographic arrangement and display). You can create a style guide at the personal, department, or corporate level (depending… Continue Reading

Grammar lesson: When should you use the word “that”?

One of my loyal readers sent me a question about the use of the word “that”; she said, “I am used to seeing the word ‘that ’ in all instances shown below” and provided four examples. Here’s one: COPAS guidelines require that the initial billing of joint account charges occurs within a 24-month period. Her… Continue Reading

The agony of the long-distance writer

Next month, my daughter will run a marathon to celebrate a milestone birthday. I marvel at her training routine―10-mile runs, half-marathons, intervals, cross-training. I can’t wait to cheer her on in Aspen. Although my running days are over, I’ve recently completed a marathon of sorts. I’ve just spent six months revising 26 chapters for my… Continue Reading

Should I capitalize that?

Every decent style guide in America has a fully developed chapter on capitalization and the rules are pretty straightforward. Instead of covering hundreds of rules in depth here, I’d like to share three questions about capitalization that came up during a recent webinar on grammar. I’ll answer the questions and then summarize my answers with… Continue Reading

How fast do you write? Or edit? Do you know?

My inaugural blog for the Society for Technical Communication, published February 11, reviewed the excellent second edition of What to Charge: Pricing Strategies for Freelancers and Consultants. But why should you, especially if you are an employee, care about charging for your work? As I wrote in the blog, author Laurie Lewis suggests that we… Continue Reading