From MSI...

Tips for Writing Effectively!


Clear, concise and credible writing is an essential element of any successful business communication and strategically a vital ingredient for leadership!  

Know the purpose of what you are writing. Keep close a short written statement of purpose and refer to it often as you write!  Use this trusted statement as your guiding light!

Effective written communication is what marketing professionals call high-impact writing.  By adhering to a few simple guidelines, any professional can produce better news releases, newsletters, emails and employee handbooks.  

    Effective writing course:  "POWER WRITING"

Here are some tips for turning uninspiring, ineffective copy into high-impact writing:  

Pursue the right word, this task should never lead to pretension or hairsplitting: shun arcane words, do not use words merely to flaunt your vocabulary, avoid distinctions where no difference exists, and above all don't use any word unless you know it’s meaning. When in doubt, check the dictionary.

 Language has a shelf life. Clichés and other commonly used expressions make writing seem stale, and they convey the impression that you're incapable of thinking for yourself. Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.

Clear, effective business writing not only reads well, it’s also good for one’s business and career.  One of the master keys to success in any line of work or in one’s personal life, is the ability to convey your ideas effectively to others.  You may have the greatest idea in the history of modern thought but what good is it if you cannot release it from the confines of your own mind. 

Keep sentences short. Try not to exceed 15 words per sentence. This is a great rule - to help avoid major sentence structure problems.  Some sentences can be longer, but less is usually more.   Create a poetic beat with your writing – it will help to hold a reader’s interest!  Some say that this advice is a false myth.  It may be in okay to keep rambling on in a speech.  In written work shorter and quicker to the point is more effective.  Use short snappy sentences. The average reader can only take in so many words before his or her eyes come to a brief rest at a period.  If a sentence has too many words, the chances are the full meaning will be missed.  Studies show that sentences of 20 words or less are easiest to read and absorb.  It is usually quite clear to see where one idea leaves off and another begins.  

Limit your sentence to one thought or idea.  Your objective is to get the idea across to the reader,  not to create underlying prose.  It is also helpful to use short words. Of course, the use of technical language in reports is another story. 

Vary sentence structure. Be aware of how each sentence starts.  Avoid starting with articles such as "the."  Begin with adverbs, adjectives or nouns to keep the reader from getting bored.

Use active voice.  Use "… developed the product" instead of the passive "The product was developed by….” .  This will create a stronger more confident tone.  

Use personal pronouns.  For effective communication , write the way you speak.  When speaking we use I, You, and we all the time.  they're part of the normal give and take of a conversation.  Whenever we write for a business we tend to cling desperately to the passive voice. Rarely do we say we, never say I and even avoid the straight forward you.  Instead we use a phrase such as "It is assumed...." or "It is recommended...."  Why not state the message clearly and quickly with "We are looking into this and get back to you shortly."?  Don't fear being direct or strong.

Don't be afraid to use contractions.  Contractions are a normal part of our speech.  We rarely use full phrases such as "I do not want this" or " I will not be able to go"  We say "I don't" or "I won't"  Why not use these commonly used contractions in our writing?  It makes your letter come across  in a sincere and personal manner.  Naturally avoid slangy contractions like "ain't."  You shouldn't use such language when speaking either.  

Use direct questions.  A conversation is not one sided. One one person speaks, the other interrupts, often with a question.  By interjecting questions in your letter, you gain the attention of your reader to specific points.  After making a point you might ask: "What additional information do you need?"  This gives the reader an additional chance to reflect on the message in relationship to his specific needs.   

Choose action verbs.  Employ verbs that describe physical or mental activities instead of a state of being.  Write "…  your services outshine the competition", instead of "… your services are the best".

Use modifiers sparingly. Choose nouns and verbs that are as specific as possible, and employ adverbs and adjectives sparingly.  Write with direct references!

Put your copy on a diet.  Write tight!  Eliminating unnecessary words and phrases.

The following tips will improve the overall aspect of your writing:

Set the length. Determine how long your message needs to be. Force your writing to fit that length.  A pre-determined word count helps establish how much data you need to gather.  This can result in a substantial savings of time!  Think of what this will do for your focus!

Work from a written plan. Diagramming keywords or creating an outline help to  organize your thoughts before you put your fingers to the keyboard.   Keep in mind  -  your purpose!

Be courteous.  Be as polite and as interested in the reader as if he were sitting directly in front of you!  Remember the person who will read your letter is a human being who will be annoyed if the letter is cold and pleased if it is courteous and friendly.

Have a beginning, middle and an end.  Plan in a triangle.  Your conclusion should refer to the beginning.

Beginning. Write a lead sentence that captures the essence of the piece, then jump right into the action.  Rhetorical questions are a good place to begin. Avoid lengthy introductions, they will slow down your writing.

Middle. Keep your ideas organized and tight. Don't go off on a tangent.  Strict adherence to outlines can come in handy!

End.  Include what the pros call "closers" or "stingers."  End with a quote or call to action to make your point.  Rhetorical questions can also be used.

Watch your vocabulary.  You should possess the insatiable appetite for new words. In writing the pursuit of the right word should never lead to pretension or hairsplitting: don't use arcane words merely to flaunt your vocabulary, don't make distinctions where no difference exists, and above all don't use any word unless you know its meaning. When in doubt, check the dictionary.  Often reference the thesaurus assist in the removal of redundant words. 

Language has a shelf life. Clichés and other commonly used expressions make writing seem stale, and they convey the impression that you're incapable of thinking for yourself. Avoid overly used metaphors, similes, or other figures of speech.  Such references appear trite and can insult a sophisticated reader! You don't want to be considered "corny"

Incorporate as many of these suggestions into your writing as possible. Don't be surprised if you end up rewriting many of your sentences; many writers believe that "the writing is in the rewriting."  Ernest Hemingway rewrote the last paragraph of his first work “The Sun Also Rises” 28 times before it went to print.  

Our next thoughts will be on "Proofreading!"

Top 10 Spelling Errors

I love this list!  It is a list of common errors that stump even the best of writers.  Memorize these and have incredible power with your writing skills!  Sorry to all the well educated college folks but I see these errors all over the place EVEN in published articles! 

1. It's and Its

It's is a contraction meaning "it is" while its is the possessive form of it.   This one is tricky – since the apostrophe in all other instances is the used in the possessive form.

It's never a good idea to get between a dog and its favorite chew toy.

2. You, Your, and You're

Since all three words are spelled correctly, spell checkers won't flag them. Consistent proof reading is the key to identifying these problems  - do not count on your spell checker! 

Anomaly sentence: Don't delay! Place you order now! We offer free shipping if your in the United States.

3. Lose and Loose

Loose can be used an adjective, adverb, or a verb: 

bulletUnattended children ran loose through the toy store.
bulletShe hated the mail carrier and regularly loosed her dogs on him.
bulletThat group of teens has a pretty loose reputation.

But lose is always a verb:

·         His mother told him to lose the attitude or else.

·         The team never believed that they'd lose the game.

·         I was so happy to lose the extra 20 pounds I'd been carrying since the baby.

4. Compliment and Complement

These two homophones trip up even the most careful writers.  I am the biggest “hater “ of Homophones – Damn the English language! 

If you like your mother's new wallpaper, you'll compliment her on her decorating skills.

Complement has meanings in grammar, medicine, mathematics, and music, but it's most commonly used to indicate that something completes a set or matches it well.

When you compliment your mother's wallpaper, you might note how well the soft green color complements the off-white carpet.

5. Principal and Principle

A principle is a basic truth, policy, or action. People dedicate their lives and careers to upholding principles of truth and justice. Principals are people who uphold standards of good behavior in schools.

A school's principal should always stick to her principles.

Remember children: the principal is your pal!

6. Except and Accept

Except connotes exclusion or something left out, like an exception to the rule.

Accept means that you're receiving something, joining a group, entering into an agreement, etc.

I'd accept your romantic marriage proposal - except for one problem. I'm already married.

7. Affect and Effect

Affect is a verb: it acts upon something, someone, or an emotion, while effect is a noun.

The discovery that his wife could control the weather affected her husband rather badly.

The so-called "Wealth Effect" affected total consumer spending and debt levels far more than economists anticipated.

8. Peak and Pique

A peak is the top of a mountain or the highest point in something's development or intensity. Pique refers to an emotion - usually anger or curiosity.

In a fit of pique, the rock climber hurled his partner's favorite harness off the highest peak.

9. Assure, Insure and Ensure

The best explanation comes from the site:

Assure, ensure, and insure all mean "to make secure or certain." Only assure is used with reference to a person in the sense of "to set the mind at rest": assured the leader of his loyalty. Although ensure and insure are generally interchangeable, only insure is now widely used in American English in the commercial sense of "to guarantee persons or property against risk."

I assure you that the insured property owner is taking steps to ensure your safety.

10. Moot and Mute

How often have you heard someone insist: "it's a mute point!" Well, if it's a topic that's incapable of making a sound, they're correct. But more often they're really trying to say that it's a moot point - or one that's irrelevant.

Since the point was already moot, Abby stood mutely in front of the teacher.

Special Bonus Error! Me, Myself and I

You see a lot of usage errors with these three words. Generations of schoolchildren grew used to constant correction about the use of me in sentences. While most learned that "Bob and me want to go" is incorrect, they never learned the correct usage of the word me.

Would you please call Bob or me before you leave? Is perfectly clear and acceptable.

Yet, well-meaning people substitute either I or the reflexive pronoun myself instead. How often do you hear or read something like this:

Would you please call Bob or myself before you leave?

Yuck! Take Bob out of the sentence and you're either asking the person to "call I before you leave" or "call myself before you leave." Neither one sounds or looks very attractive.

Don't be afraid to use the word me in sentences, but take care to use it correctly!

Unfortunately, even the best spell checker won't find these errors. Use NetMechanic's HTML Toolbox to find misspelled words, coding errors, and code that may cause browser compatibility problems. It's an easy-to-use online tool you can use to quickly identify and fix most problems on your page.

Use Positive Words - See ...  Positive Thinking!

Looking to get ATTENTION....   See Attention Words!

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