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

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

Saxon words prevail in new SAT vocabulary test

Saxon words prevail in new SAT vocabulary test

This spring, the new SAT vocabulary test will focus less on obscure vocabulary such as “abstruse,” “prodigious,” “vexation,” and “trenchant” and more on relevant words that college students need to know. As the press release said: “SAT words will no longer be vocabulary [that] students may not have heard before and are likely not to… Continue Reading

Left-branching example of the week

A left-branching sentence is one in which the subject and verb do not appear until the sentence has wandered around for quite some time: “Only offering height modifications in certain areas, explicitly describing what the city wants buildings to look like in [City] Junction and charging non-residential developments a fee to pay for affordable housing… 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