Tag Archives: Writing Tips

WRITING TO WIN: Handwriting in the Age of Electronic Communication

by Royce Murcherson

Royce top picture

As an author and teacher in today’s digital world, I am bombarded with email heralding messages of all sorts. But the messages that stand out most in my mind are the ones that arrived in a small envelope either slipped under my door or dropped in my mailbox.

One in particular was from a student thanking me for teaching a great class and letting me know how much she appreciated the effort. It would have been easy to send an email added to an already long list in my exploding inbox. Instead she chose to write a note that did not go unnoticed. Here was an individual who chose to express a sentiment in a genuinely real way.

In this age of electronic communication, it is easy to overlook the simple value of a handwritten note. Why bother when you can email, text, or send digital greeting cards? It’s easier to tweet, post, email, or pin. It’s fast, it’s cheap, and unremarkable. But isn’t it better to do something thoughtful and unexpected that differentiates your message from others?

Where is the inherent value in handwritten notes? It’s authenticity. It’s not just the words you put to paper, but the deeper message you send. Ask yourself, when was the last time you received a real paper message in your ‘real’ inbox at work? Chances are you may not be able to come up with a date. This is what makes a handwritten note important. They give pause because they are seen so rarely. Here are some key questions to consider.

WHAT’S IT GONNA COST? NOTHING YOU CAN’T AFFORD
Handwritten notes require extra time to compose a thoughtful message and check your own grammar and spelling. These notes will also require a small investment in stamps, notecards, or stationery.

WHAT WILL YOU GET OUT OF IT? BENEFITS THAT CAN’T BE DENIED
You send a loud and clear message to the recipient. You are taking the time to convey appreciation or thanks in a more meaningful way than typical electronic communication.

WHAT ARE SOME OCCASIONS TO USE A HANDWRITTEN NOTE? MORE THAN YOU THINK
• acknowledge hard work
• follow up a meeting or conversation of importance
• recognize accomplishments
• recognize service anniversaries
• express thanks, gratitude, or appreciation
• celebrate birthdays
• offer best wishes

In today’s workplace, technology is a wonderful thing. It’s a tool that improves processes and solves problems. It also creates opportunities for more time to accomplish the tasks that will help us to be successful. But don’t forget to take a little of that ‘saved time’ and invest it in an old fashioned practice that will create a lasting impression on your colleagues.

For a more other discussions on persuasive business writing and workplace etiquette, see my book:

Royce Murcherson, Ph.D., The Guide to Persuasive Business Writing: A New Model that Gets Results. Iowa: Kendall-Hall, 2013

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For more information on the Business Office Systems and Support department, contact Becky Jones, Associate Dean, bjones@dcccd.edu 972-238-6215.


Perfecting Your Social Media Posts

03-17-2014 Perfecting Your Social Media Posts TS 166195724

If you use more than one of the social media (SM) platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, etc.) to network and stay engaged with contacts, customers, the community, etc., you should be aware of the differences among them and how to use each platform most effectively.

David Hagy has created an excellent infographic that outlines the do’s and don’ts for each social media type.

The one word of caution he offers to SM writers is to avoid the temptation of using SM management tools such as HootSuite or Buffer to push out your content using the same format. Sure it’s fine to use HootSuite and Buffer to manage your SM planning and scheduling across platforms, but consider the strengths and weaknesses of each platform and adapt your message format accordingly.

Below are a few suggestions from David’s infographic, but click this link to see the full visual that contains the important points to keep in mind for each social media type.

David also offers suggestions for the best and worst times to post content by SM type. 

03-17-2014 Table Insert

For more information on the BOSS program and how you can get yourself better prepared for you career, contact Becky Jones, Associate Dean, bjones@dcccd.edu or 972-238-6215.

Source: http://dashburst.com/infographic/create-perfect-post-social-networks/


Part 3 of 3–Did You Really Mean To Use That Word???

This blog concludes a three-part series that has focused on reviewing certain words which sound and look similar. You also can review the blogs presented on December 5 and November 7, 2011, for a complete discussion on troublesome words. As business writers, one goal should be to develop the ability to use words correctly. Using words wisely and correctly will definitely help you to advance and succeed in your business career.

Word Meaning Example
It’s The contraction for the words “it is” or “it has.” It’s going to be another hot, sunny day in Dallas.

It’s been an exciting venture.

Its The possessive pronoun used to show ownership for the pronoun “it.” The dog licked its injured paw.
Lay This verb means “to place” or “to put.” The principal parts of this verb are lay, laid, laid, laying. Please lay the book on the table.

Jack laid the hammer next to his toolbox.

Hint: If you can substitute “place” or “put,” then you can use a form of this verb.

Lie This verb means “to recline” or “to rest.” The principal parts of this verb are lie, lay, lain, lying. I plan to lie down for an hour.

After he took his pain medicine, Jack lay down, and he finally dozed off to sleep.

May be These two words can be part of a verb phrase (helper or with “be” as the main verb). Mrs. Smith may be out of town tomorrow. (may be is the verb phrase—be is the main verb)

I may be going to Chicago next week. (may be—acting as helper verbs for the verb “going”)

Maybe This adverb should be used to express the possibility (or perhaps). If I don’t hear from her today, maybe I will give her a call.
Principal This word can function as a noun or as an adjective. As a noun, it may refer to a business owner, the head of a school, or a sum of invested money. As an adjective, it means “the most important.” The principal approved the student’s absence.

The principal sum will be used to invest in new energy projects.

Principle This word can only be used as a noun. It refers to a “basic law or rule” or “adherence to an ethical code.” John questioned the politician’s principles during the debate on healthcare.
Raise This word means “to cause to lift” or “to lift something.” The principal parts are raise, raised, raised, raising. The candidate’s opposition raised several valid questions regarding the project.
Regardless Means “anyway” or “in spite of” or “nevertheless.” NEVER use irregardless—there is no such word! Regardless of the concern expressed by the committee, the chairman plans to approve the costly project.
Reign This word means “to rule over.” Someday, Prince William will reign as king of the United Kingdom.
Rein This word means “to hold back” or “to restrain” or “to stop”—to rein in.

It can also be used to express unlimited access or pursuits.

The state officials plan to rein in unnecessary spending.

He was given free rein over the committee’s budget.

Retroactive to Refers to being in effect to an earlier time. Never use “retroactive from.” The pay raise was made retroactive to July 1 of the previous year.
Rise This word means “to ascend” “to move upward by itself” or “to get up.” The principal parts are rise, rose, risen, rising. The sun rose at 6:45 a.m. this morning.

The Trinity River has risen to flood stage recently.

Set This word means “to place” or “to put” something somewhere. The principal parts are set, set, set, setting. I set my suitcase down next to my purse.

I set the alarm on my iPhone to sound at 6 a.m.

Sit This word means “to be in a position of rest” or “to be seated.” The principal parts are sit, sat, sat, sitting. I think she needs to sit down and rest for several minutes.

Brian sat with the rest of the family.

Their The possessive pronoun used to show plural ownership. Their mother went to the fair with her friend.
Theirs The possessive pronoun used to show plural ownership. Theirs was a misguided belief.
There’re The contraction for the words “there are.” There’re always two sides to every argument.
There’s The contraction for the words “there is” or “there has.” There’s always hope at the beginning of a new year.

There’s to be light at the end of this tunnel!

They’re The contraction for the words “they are.” They’re going to visit their friend in Chicago.
You’re The contraction for the words “you are.” You’re going to be surprised to see how much progress Mark has made on this project!
Your The possessive pronoun used to show ownership for the pronoun “you.” Your speech covered an interesting topic.

Source: William A. Sabin, The Gregg Reference Manual, 11th Edition, The McGraw-Hill Companies, New York, 2011.

For more information on BOSS software offerings, the BOSS degree and certificates, and how the BOSS program can help you with your career, contact Becky Jones, Associate Dean, bjones@dcccd.edu 972-238-6215.


Part 2 of 3—Did You Really Mean To Use That Word???

This blog is the second in a three-part series that focuses on reviewing certain words which sound and look similar. You also can review the initial list presented on November 7, 2011. As business writers, one goal should be to develop the ability to use words correctly. Using words wisely and correctly is certainly the mark of a talented and skilled writer!

Word Meaning Example
Bare Means “to reveal or expose,” “scant,” “to face up to something” She will bare her deepest fears to the group.
Bear Aside from the fact this word is used to refer to a specific animal, this word can also be used to mean “to carry something heavy.” This word is typically used to describe something burdensome or long suffering. Michael brought the full weight of his office to bear on this matter.Writing this report will be a “bear” of a job!
Between Refers to two people or two things This discussion is between Jack and me.(Caution: don’t use the pronoun “I” here). Reason: The word “between” is a preposition, and any pronouns used with prepositions must be in the objective case—me, us, her, him, you, them, or it.
Capital When used as an adjective, this word means “chief” or “of foremost importance.”An uppercase letter.When used as a noun, this word should be used to mean (1) “the city the serves as the seat of a country’s or state’s government, (2) a large or “principal sum of money,” or (3) a crime “punishable by death.” The church is developing a capital campaign to celebrate its anniversary.The first letter in a sentence should always begin with a capital letter.Austin is the capital of Texas.
Capitol/capitol This word refers to the building in which a state legislative body meets.When the word is capitalized—Capitol—it refers to the building where the U.S. Congress meets. The Alabama state legislators will meet at the state capitol to vote on next year’s funding.The United States Senate agreed to meet at the Capitol this evening to discuss this matter in detail.
Cease Means “to stop” The group received a “cease and desist” order from city hall.
Seize Means “to take by force” or “to grasp” The federal marshal and his deputies seized the illegal shipment immediately.
Complement Means “to complete something” or “to mutually supply what the other part lacks” Dexter feels his writing skills will complement Mary’s research skills.
Compliment Means “to flatter” or “to give free” Amazon.com may offer complimentary movie passes with the purchase of the Kindle Fire tablet.
Assure Means “to give someone confidence” Mr. Smith, I can assure you [give confidence] that the project will be completed on time.
Ensure Means “to make certain” I want to ensure [make certain] that nothing goes wrong at the dinner.
Insure Means “to protect against loss” Mary will need to insure [protect against loss] her diamond ring for $100,000.
Farther Refers to “actual distance” The drive from Chicago to Dallas was farther [in actual distance] than Joe expected.
Further Refers to “a greater degree” or “greater extent,” “additionally” Let’s meet tomorrow and discuss the proposed budget cuts further [to a greater extent].
Hear To be perceived by the ear I can hear the couple arguing right now.
Here Means “in this place” We plan to meet here next Monday.
Home Means “to target” something Elliot will home in on [target] the excessive expenditures.
Hone Means “to sharpen” All business students need to hone [sharpen] their spreadsheet skills by taking an Excel class.
In Refers to a position within The letter is in the file.
Into Refers or implies entry Mark walked into the meeting 30 minutes late
In to Refers the word “in” acting as part of a verb phrase or adverb and the word “to” acting as part of the prepositional phrase or infinitive phrase. All sales reports are to be sent in to the sales manager. (In is an adverb in the verb phrase are to be sent in; “to” is a simple preposition for the prepositional phrase to the sales manager.)Mr. Davis came in to see me. (In is part of the verb phrase came in; “to” is part of the infinitive phrase to see.)

Source: William A. Sabin, The Gregg Reference Manual, 11th Edition, The McGraw-Hill Companies, New York, 2011.

For more information on BOSS software offerings, the BOSS degree and certificates, and how the BOSS program can help you with your career, contact Becky Jones, Associate Dean, bjones@dcccd.edu 972-238-6215.