business writing ideas from Word Constructions





welcome to the Word Constructions business ideas newsletter

Hello and welcome to the Christmas edition of Business writing ideas.

We’re into December and summer has certainly hit in Melbourne (we had our hottest November day in 150 years last week!)

It is a very busy time – I am again helping Santa with some letters, managing my family Christmas commitments and celebrations, preparing materials for clients facing major changes next year and just generally running a business. Thus the delay in getting this newsletter to you, for which I apologise.

Managing communications is like managing a business or department in that there can be many projects (or aspects of projects) underway at the same time. For example, I will write the draft of a document and send it to a designer so it is out of my hands for a while so I write some blog posts and emails. One way I manage the different aspects of a project is to set a project timeline and share it with relevant people – then everyone knows the designer is due to give a draft on Monday and the client has a week or provide feedback, and so on.

Outsourcing is another way I manage projects and my workload. Some things I outsource because others can do them faster and better than me and some because it doesn’t use or need my skills. If it makes my life easier, then I think it is worth the cost, and I really appreciate the team I frequently outsource to – thank you to Jane, Gerald, Cameron, Ally, Michelle and Eva.

I wish you well for your Christmas business efforts as well as a safe and happy festive season.

Use your words wisely,

Tash                             Tash & Word Constructions on Twitter         Word Constructions on LinkedIn          Tash & Word Constructions on Facebook           Word Constructions eBooks

Recent blog posts you may find useful:

How do you say Merry Christmas?
Is there business life beyond Facebook?
What is your passion story?
Be creative with your messages
Launching a new product to success
Avoiding fluff keeps the message clear

Success usually comes to those who are too busy to be looking for it.
— Henry David Thoreau

business communications article by Tash Hughes

Quotes or relationships?
By Tash Hughes of Word Constructions

When you need to get something done, there is a process of choosing the business or contractor to use.

Obviously, if you don’t know anyone who can do the job for you, you need to research potential suppliers and gather quotes.

But what do you do further down the track?

A marketing manager I once knew would get quotes for every project and play the designers against each other. That is, she pushed all the designers until she got the lowest quote.

Personally, I have a set of designers that I trust to do great work at reasonable (or better) prices. Using these designers means I save time researching and comparing quotes, and save time as the designers already know the style to use (and have the logo and graphics on file).

By having a relationship with a designer, I know we can work together and can trust them to do what they are good at. It also means they will help me – for example, they will fit in an urgent job as quickly as possible – whereas a designer who feels unappreciated will be less accommodating.

Personalised Santa letters for Aussie kids
These make an unusual and fun gift for clients and suppliers, too

don't forget the basics of good writing and communications

An hour to catch a horse
By Tash Hughes of Word Constructions

When a word starts with a vowel, you use the word ‘an’; if it starts with a consonant, use the word ‘a’.

Being English, there is of course an exception or two to this rule.

Words starting with the letter h are sometimes preceded by ‘a’ and sometimes by ‘an’.

Generally, treat h like a consonant so you write about a horse, a hedge, a hospital and a helicopter.

However, if the word effectively has a silent h (ie the sound of the word is the vowel), you use ‘an’ such as an hour, an honour and an honest review.

As there are also other exceptions to the vowel/consonant rule, I think it is easier to use the following guide:

For any word that starts with a vowel sound, use ‘an’; all other words use ‘a’.

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poor writing examples

Theory has its place, but an example often makes learning something much easier. In many areas, an example of a mistake or poor quality is an even more effective teacher than examples of the correct technique so here is such an example to learn from…

Poor writing can sometimes be excused, but I know I have no confidence in a business claiming expertise in English if they can’t write clearly themselves. In the following example, this website is promoting their service of tutoring in English – needless to say, I wouldn’t hire them!


Current news: xx is extended their services to the city of F and K in 2011. New year means new tutors and new subjects! We have now tutors in English and physics. Our VCE English tutors are booked out for this year. Some places are still available for primary and mid school. {All in caps}


For a start, I found this example a week or so ago, in 2012. Announcing new 2011 services as current news instantly makes me wary of them and I have no idea if they are booked out now – or if that was for 2010 or 2011!

It is confusing – if English is a new subject they are offering in the new year, how is VCE English booked out this year?

‘xx is extended their services’ is simply bad grammar; ‘xx is extending their services’ is better.

The message has an inconsistent voice – ‘their services’, ‘we have’, ‘our tutors’ – which gives a disjointed message.

‘We have now tutors’ makes me wonder what a now tutor is.

Does the start of a new year always mean new subjects and tutors, or just when xx is introducing this? And I’m not sure I like the idea of getting new tutors every January – where is the build-up of experience and relationship if the tutors change each year? Do they not find tutors worthy of keeping for more than a year?

Of course, if they mean they are adding tutors to their team for the new year, that is what they should have written.

For an Australian business, I have to ask why they refer to ‘mid school’ when their audience doesn’t. We have primary and secondary schools in Melbourne, both of which may talk about junior and senior school classes. Writing about mid school doesn’t inspire confidence that they know our school curriculum which is what they are supposed to tutor my children in…

And writing that entire message (which rotated slowly across the screen) in capital letters was ill advised and again reduced any credibility they may have had.

There are also marketing issues with this text – for example, it is better to emphasise booking available spaces rather than announcing being booked out (for a year?) Especially as getting in new tutors is hopefully increasing the number of places available, even in VCE English.

Better: Let’s assume the message is current now…

Current news: xx will be servicing the cities of F and K in 2013! We now offer English and physics tutoring. Additional tutors start from January. Book for primary and early secondary subjects now – VCE English already booked out until March.

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© 2012, Tash Hughes