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welcome to the Word Constructions business ideas newsletter

Hello {name}! Welcome to the first 2011 edition business writing ideas from WordHappy New Year from Word Constructions! Constructions!

Happy New Year!  Have you made a lot of resolutions for the coming year? I hadn't really thought about setting any for myself by Christmas and then I decided that it was of more value to concentrate on cleaning my desk (literally and figuratively) for the start of a new year. It will let me start afresh, ready to be creative and time-efficient, and it also feels much nicer to have a tidy work space.

I often find that January is a good month for reviewing and refreshing things - for Word Constructions and for clients. Not only does everyone appreciate the freshness as they return to 'normal' after the holidays, but it is often a quiet time for many businesses. What do you do for January? And how you make use of quiet times?

For myself, I will be reviewing some processes and writing the relevant procedures - partly to ensure I am doing things the most efficient way but also in preparation for changing how some things get done. A clear desk and strong procedures will form a good foundation for a successful year, I believe.

On a slightly different topic, what writing/communication examples stood out for you over Christmas? Putting things together, receiving more advertising materials and often having more time to sit and read, you may notice both good and bad writing examples that may amuse or inspire, but either way can be used to improve you own writing and communications.

Tash

 


The ladder of success must be set upon something solid before you can start to climb
~ unknown


latest article

Sharing Standardised text
By Tash Hughes of Word Constructions

Once you have created some standard text for high use information (such as disclaimers, log in instructions and complaints handling), you need to make it highly accessible to everyone who may write for your business.

Adding it to your style guide (directly or as an appendix) is the first step so that everyone knows it exists and must be used. You can add explanations of when it must be used and perhaps shorter versions for specific circumstances (such as in a graphic ad or the end of an email). Handing the style guide to service providers (such as a writer or web designer) is then a simple way of ensuring they also use your standardised text.

Depending on how many people in your team need access, the following tips may help you share the standardised text for daily use:

  • if you store it in a document on your computer (which makes it easy to cut and paste!), link to it from your desktop or start menu so it is very quick to reach and use
  • look at an online option such as Google Docs or a wiki
  • add it to your intranet with links from the intranet home page
  • add it as note in your email program – unless you have so many notes it would just get lost!

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don't forget the basics

Spelling rules
By Tash Hughes of Word Constructions

While some words are just right or wrong, there are words that can be spelt in a number of ways without being completely wrong. The main reason for this relates to different countries having slightly different versions of English - predominantly Americans having different rules to the rest of us, but also due to the nature of language when new words join the language (for instance is it data base or database, email, e-mail or Email?)

For your business, it is more important to choose a set of rules and stick to it (ie be consistent) than which rules is right or wrong. So if your Australian company intends to use Australian spelling, don't switch to traveling or programme (in Australia we use travelling and program).

If there are commonly used words that may be spelt differently, it may be worth having a style sheet of those words as well as making sure everyone knows which rules apply in your business.


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poor examples

Sometimes, the easiest way to learn the correct way to do something is to see it done poorly so in this section of my newsletter, I show you some real-life examples of writing that need a little help.

Again, I am using a bad example from the writing tips article I found on a business website.

Example:

Prior to sending your email/letter check that you have spelled the clients name correctly and are using their correct title. Check also for possible spelling and/or grammar mistakes (using the P.C. toolbox again and dictionary)

Issues with this example:

My main issue with this paragraph is the text in the parenthesis. This is the only mention of P.C. toolbox in the article (so why the word again is there is anyone’s guess!) so it is not a very helpful reference – someone who needs to be told what to use for checking errors is likely to need help in knowing how to use it.

Having some basic grammatical errors in there doesn’t add to her credibility either – ‘clients name’ is missing an apostrophe, the second sentence is missing a full stop, ‘grammar mistakes’ are actually grammatical mistakes, and a comma in the first sentence would make it easier to read.

Of course, it would also be better to separate the two sentences into paragraphs as they are not on the same point (using correct names is not the same issue as correct grammar and spelling).

 An improved version would be: (without changing the meaning)

Prior to sending your email/letter, check that you have spelled the client’s name correctly and are using their correct title.

Also, check for possible spelling and/or grammatical mistakes (using the spelling and grammar tool in your word processing program).


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© 2011, Tash Hughes