Writing Style – Ms.

Three times in the past two months, I have had a young person in one of my business writing workshops tell me that the word Ms. means the woman is divorced. Mind boggling! Gloria Steinem would be spinning in her grave – if she were dead. Ms (UK) or Ms. (North American) is an English honorific denoting a female. It […]

Information/Fun – To the Grammar Gurus

A number of BizWritingTip readers were concerned about an example I provided recently to explain the placement of punctuation with quotation marks. The BizWritingTip said that when using question marks and exclamation points, place the punctuation inside the closing quotation mark, when it applies to the quoted material only; place it outside the closing quotation […]

Writing Style – Unnecessary Words

Hilary’s question: “I often see sentences that I think overuse the word ‘of,’ e.g., ‘He lived outside of Canada’ or ‘She peered out of the window.’   Isn’t this incorrect?” BizWritingTip response: This is actually a style issue rather than a grammar one. The term “outside of” is considered acceptable North American informal speech. However, business writing […]

Information/Fun – National Grammar Day

The Society for the Promotion of Good Grammar has declared March 4, National Grammar Day. How do you celebrate it? Speak well! Write well! Read well! And on March 4, if you see a sign with an appalling apostrophe, send a kind note to the owner. If your local radio announcer says “between you and I,” set […]

Writing Style – Addressing Letters

A BizWritingTip reader has asked us to review the best practices for sending letters to people you don’t know. In years past, it was acceptable to begin a letter to someone you didn’t know with Dear Sir/Madam or Dear Ladies and Gentlemen. (Note: There is no “e”on madam.) However, the North American business culture is […]

Writing Style – Grammar or Style

A BizWritingTip reader wrote: I often see sentences that end in a preposition or hear commercials that do the same. Am I out of touch? Is this acceptable? Not when I went to school. It makes me wonder just how much attention is given to the correct use of the English language in both written […]

Writing Style – “And” and Commas — Part 2

In a previous blog of BizWritingTip, we looked at placing a comma before “and” when you are using it to join two separate thoughts. Now we will look at how to deal with it when you are using it to separate items in a series. Use a comma when you are writing about a series of three […]

Writing Style – “And” and Commas

BizWritingTip Reader: “I have a question for you – when is it OK to use commas before ‘and.’ I find this to be a very subjective question and am looking for some clarification.” BizWritingTip Response: There are several rules surrounding “and.” And that’s probably why the issue can be confusing. It all depends on how […]

Writing Style – Anglophone/Francophone: To Cap or Not to Cap

Deane’s question: “Should terms such as francophone and anglophone be capitalized. I don’t think so as they do not refer to races of people per se. However, especially in the case of francophone, people in government and in the press often write Francophone.” BizWritingTip response: My first inclination was to say “no.” Do not capitalize […]

Writing Style – Business Writing Guidelines

I thought I would start offer some ideas on how you can ensure your writing style meets the needs of today’s business readers. Please note that these tips are not hard and fast rules but only guidelines. They come from my years of experience in teaching business writing and from my research into the reading […]