Are You Making These Costly Proofreading Mistakes?

Are You Making These Costly Proofreading Mistakes?

We’re celebrating the launch of a free proofreading course with proof proofreading matters! Proofreading shmoofreading, blah, blah, blah… If that’s your attitude toward this critical communication tool, read on to learn how typos can cost businesses millions of dollars—and even damage careers. How Proofreading Protects Your Brand…and Bottom Line Proofreading is important to you as an individual and to your company, for several reasons (some quite costly!). For an individual, proofreading protects (or even builds) your credibility....
The Secret of Semicolons…or How to Use This Sexy Piece of Punctuation Correctly

The Secret of Semicolons…or How to Use This Sexy Piece of Punctuation Correctly

(Originally Published September 2017) This week’s blog post is brought to you by one of my kids—because I just found out I didn’t teach her how to use semicolons. OK, maybe it was the school’s job when she was younger, but really, I work with words for a living. I teach business writing skills. I know my punctuation. And somehow I didn’t pass along this valuable information. Parenting fail! So I’m passing it along now, in a very public way. (Emma, are you paying attention?) I heart semicolons It’s too bad people misuse them....
Readers Come Before Rules

Readers Come Before Rules

(Originally published September 2017) Watching two people argue about serial commas is like watching two people argue about politics: Neither can listen to the other, but neither is necessarily right nor wrong. As a refresher, the serial comma—sometimes called the Oxford comma—is used in a series as in ham, eggs, and toast. It’s the comma after the word “eggs.” Without the serial comma, it looks like ham, eggs and toast. Will it make you a better, faster writer if you have to stop and think about whether or not to include a comma,...
The Future Is Freelance…and Your Writing Will Matter More

The Future Is Freelance…and Your Writing Will Matter More

Have you seen the meme about how the first 40 years of parenting are the hardest? Not to throw my kids under the bus, but it has stopped being funny lately. Both kids are in their 20s and both seem hellbent on being self-employed. As their mother, who has spent most of the past 30 years self-employed, this makes me nervous. I envied friends with steady incomes, retirement plans, sick leave and paid vacation. I had hoped my kids would have all the bennies I went without. But my kids are on the right path…and I am wrong. Why? Because...
How Your Smartphone Dumbs Down Your Writing…and 6 Ways to Fight Back

How Your Smartphone Dumbs Down Your Writing…and 6 Ways to Fight Back

At our farm, “horse logic” is an oxymoron we laugh at as we deal with the fallout of equine choices. “Smartphone” is another favorite oxymoron around here. Why? Because—although our phones are smarter, to the point that they are pocket computers, not phones—they can make us humans dumb, or at least dumb down our writing at work. Notice I said they can make us dumb, not do. Being mindful of the effect of our supposed smartphones means we can choose not to let them affect our writing skills. But it starts with the awareness, the...
3 New Rules for Writing Paragraphs in an Online World

3 New Rules for Writing Paragraphs in an Online World

(Originally published August 2017) Sometimes it’s not worth re-inventing the wheel, like this week when I was all set to write about paragraphs and then I read this post on the topic.* Rather than rehash what Mike Blankenship so eloquently said, I’ll sum it up for you below (with his new advice, as his post is recently updated)… In brief, Mike says long paragraphs don’t work in digital. Instead, you need to follow some “new rules”: New Rule #1: Write shorter paragraphs. Not always, mind you, as you’ll see in rule #2, but...