business writing ideas from Word Constructions      

 

 

welcome to the Word Constructions business ideas newsletter

Hello {name}! Welcome to the February edition of business writing ideas from Word Constructions!

Travelling interstate to meet with clients was a great end to January for me. It is nice to have a change of scenery and see how different businesses operate in real terms - how often do you get out of your office and 'see the world'? Although I came back with more work to do, the change has energised and motivated me so watch out for new eBooks and resources in the coming months!

I also managed some business reading over January which is great for getting new ideas and motivation. I will be putting some book reviews into my blog soon, and I often link to online materals that I find interesting or useful (follow me on Twitter to keep up with such links as not all make it into my blog!)

As part of your planning for 2012, you might like to read about the marketing trends for 2012 (provided by Business Victoria - deleted in July 2012 when they upgraded their site) and noting how much is based around the internet and building relationships. Have you thought about making your website mobile friendly, adding a blog or collaborating with other businesses? I like the fact that this list includes the needs for quality content as the basis for any online marketing - people don't want to follow leads to a website that had no information on it. Search engines, social media and repeat visitors all rely on quality content so it really is worth investing in the content of your site on a regular basis.

Until next time, use your words wisely,

Tash

PS If you want to get your business blog started as part of the 2012 predicted trends, I can get your initial 10 posts and style guides written - and if you book this during February I will give you a 15% discount (for the first 5 subscribers only).

Recent blog posts you may find useful:Word Constructions eBooks

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Networking is an essential part of building wealth.
~ Armstrong Williams


business communications article by Tash Hughes

Using others' content
By Tash Hughes of Word Constructions

When you are trying to create content for your website, blog or marketing, you will sometimes come across someone else's work and want to share that information in some way.

The simplest approach is to link to that information via social media, but there are other ways to use their idea to build your own content. Directly using their material, however, is not an option as it is disrespectful to the author and to your readers - and as a breach of copyright it is also illegal.

However, some legal and ethical ways you can use others' work are:

  • write a blog post about your response to the information or to expand on part of the information. You can link back to the original source for depth and use it as a starting point
  • you can take their idea or information and write your own piece - not just rewriting their material in your own words, but using your own insights, knowledge and personality to make it your own
  • pull out a sentence or paragraph from the original and quote it (with appropriate acknowledgements and preferably permissions) before adding your own views
  • ask the author if you can use their material on your site, including reference to the author and links to their site. Alternatively, ask the author for a new version of their work to use a guest blog post

So if you read my article last month on ways to refresh your blog for 2012, you could up with your own list of ideas, ask me to reuse my list or link to my list while writing about why refreshing a blog is a good idea.



Have you thought about some training or skills development for 2012? Online courses are great to fit around business and other commitments - if you have the discipline to study!


don't forget the basics

Use the active option
By Tash Hughes of Word Constructions

When you write, your sentences can be either active or passive.

Active - start with the subject then the verb then the object. Examples - professional writers write short sentences. Phone now for details.

Passive - start with the object then the verb and subject. Examples - Short sentences are written by professional writers. For details, phone us now.

Active sentences tend to be shorter and generally are more interesting to read. They are certainly clearer for instructions and procedures (compare instructions that state 'turn on the printer' compared to 'the printer needs to be turned on').

Not every sentence can be written in an active voice, but if you consciously aim for more active sentences, your writing will be more lively and interesting.



I've had great service and support from this host for clients and they helped me move my site there, too - affordable, great service and green, what more could I ask for?


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.

I found today's example on a FAQ webpage for a company selling packaging to retailers. I am guessing they wrote the content themselves despite English not being their first language...

Example:

What do I need to organize a quote?
Select your bag style from our product range, choose a bag colour, thickness and how many coulor is your printing. For all tailor made products please provide; bag size, handle size, and thickness.
Or you can Email us for a kindly advice.

Issues with this example:

The simplest error is the spelling mistake which shows a lack of proofreading - coulor should of course be colour.

A lack of understanding about plural/singular terms shows in the phrase 'how many colour is your printing'. As there is a possibility of more than one colour being used, the phrase needs to be 'how many colours are ...'

You're/your is unfortunately a common mistake that really makes the write look somewhat ignorant. In this case, they are trying to write about what you are printing so the correct spelling is 'you're printing'. Which also means that there is no need for a verb (whether singular or plural) after colour - so the phrase should be 'how many colours you're printing'.

A semi-colon(;) is for separating items in a list, not for introducing a list. When necessary, a colon (:) will introduce a list or separate text. So I would use a colon to provide a list of basic writing issues: spelling, punctuation, capital letters, apostrophes and tense. However, there is no need for a colon in a short list within a single sentence such as in the FAQ example above. There is also no need for a comma before 'and' in a simple list either.

I assume they are trying to be friendly in offering 'kindly advice' but would have better with something like '...for help', '...for assistance' or '...and one of our friendly team will help you'.

Overall, the text is not easy to read for an understanding of what information is needed in an order. Including both 'select' and 'choose' in one sentence, but not including a verb with all items listed, is confusing. Whether listed in a sentence or as bullet points, every item in the list must fit with the initial words of the sentence. Our example above actually consists of the following sentences merged into one: 'select your bag style', 'select your choose a bag colour', 'select your thickness' and 'select how many colours...'

The text also does not answer the question - it is telling people to do something (select and provide) rather than listing what is needed. Inconsistency between questions and answers is a common mistake that can really impact on the clarity of your message.

I think they also need to define what they mean by thickness, especially as they use the word twice so I guess it applies to two different things (thickness of fabric and the handle? Width of the bag?). {I use xx and yy in my version below to show where their definition should be as I really don't know what thickness they mean!}

An improved version would be: (in sentence form, a bullet list would probably work even better)

How do I organise a quote?
Simply select a bag style, a bag colour, yy thickness and the number of colours for printing. For tailor made bags, you can also choose the bag size, the handle size and xx thickness.
Tell us your choices by... or email us for assistance.


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2012, Tash Hughes