Business Writing
Baruch College
Overview
• In business, the ability to communicate
clearly, concisely is a competitive asset …
- For the organization you ...
Overview

More than half of all business audiences will
ignore internally produced communications
because they consider th...
Environmental Factors
“Mr. Magoo Effect” (Guerilla PR
Wired)

- We’re all overwhelmed by information
- 10,000 messages tod...
Environmental Factors
• Mr. Magoo Effect is compounded by “Data
Smog.”
- Brain capacity is inundated
- Can only recall sou...
Central Challenge

How do we effectively communicate in a
business world where audiences are
overwhelmed, highly skeptical...
Central Challenge
• Answer is part …
– Content: Ensuring your message is clear, simple and
understandable
– Delivery mecha...
Central Challenge
Formal Communications
Channels

Organizational Cascade
(Word of mouth)

email
intranet
Webcasts
text mes...
Context: Know Your Audience

• If you don’t know who
you’re communicating
to, the message and the
delivery are wasted.

9
Communications Types
•

The three main forms of business communications
are:
1. Internal-operational communication (what b...
Context: Less is More

“Blessed is the man who, having nothing to
say, abstains from giving in words
evidence of the fact....
Context: Conversational Style
• Strive for a
conversational
style that’s always
business like,
professional.
• Write the w...
Email: Too Much is Self-Defeating
To: All Supervisors
From: Joel Cairo

To: All Supervisors

Hurricane Raoul is about 200 ...
Composing Power E-mails
Subject Lines
• Create precise attention-getting
subject lines:

– Revised Customer Service
–
–
–
...
Composing Power E-mails
Avoid weak openings
•
•
•

•

WEAK: “This is in response to the
message I received from you
concer...
Composing Power E-mails
Content
• Organize content for easier reading:
– Provide the most important information first.
– V...
Composing Power E-mails
Tone
• Strike a balance between language that seems conversational
but is also precise and profess...
Composing Power E-mails
Tone
• Avoid using “one” because it’s pontifical (“One should be able
to complete the test in an h...
Composing Power E-mails
General Guidelines
• Page 130 of text.

19
When to Use Email
•

Email works best for direct and non-time sensitive information.
Use email when:
– Action is required....
Bad Email Habits
• Buried requests sandwiched
between unimportant
information.

– “Hi Bob, I’ve been considering your

–

...
Bad Email Habits
• Bulky Paragraphs
– People don’t read e-mails, they
skim. So don’t write an eight
sentence paragraph in ...
Writing Assignment
• Write an email to your manager or someone you’ve worked for
•
•
•

proposing a project you feel passi...
Ch.1: Effective Writing
Keys to Effective Writing
• Recognize that writing is
•
•
•
•
•
•
•

inherently stressful
Do whate...
Effective Writing Habits
• Pay attention to your environment
• You’ll write best where you’re comfortable
• Quiet, seclude...
Ch. 2 Getting Started
• Readable writing makes the best impression

– Conveys your ideas with clarity, precision
– Reader:...
Ch. 2: Getting Started
Before
If there are any points on which you require explanation
or further particulars we shall be ...
Ch. 2: Writing Clearly
• Ten Principles of Clear Writing
•

Accept the fact that there is no perfect writing … writing is ...
Ch. 3: Knowing the Reader
What do you need to know
before you write?
• What’s the goal/point of the
•
•
•
•
•

message?
Is...
Ch. 3: Knowing the Reader
Key Points
• The less your reader knows,

the more you need to explain
by:

– Framing the issue/...
Ch. 3: Writing for the Reader
The Basic Roadmap
1.
2.
3.

Begin with a topic sentence
Provide details to support or
clarif...
Writing Assignment
• Write a letter to someone you know
•
•
•

recommending a movie or book you’ve
recently seen
Explain w...
Final Notes on Resumes
• Present information

selectively about your
professional experience

– Highlight information that...
Final Notes on Resumes
• Typos are killers

– Proof read carefully

• Take credit for what

you’ve done but don’t
stretch ...
Writing Instructions
• Not the place to show
•
•

off your writing skills
Assume the reader
knows nothing about
how to do ...
Tips for Writing Instructions
• Know your audience
• Provide a brief
introduction
– What is the purpose of
the document
– ...
Tips for Writing Instructions
• Write each step as a
command
– “Insert Tab A into Tab B”
Not
– “Tab B should be inserted
i...
Tips for Writing Instructions
• Use easy to understand
visuals

• Use simple words and
sentences
– Use active words, not
–...
Writing Assignment
• Write step-by-step

instructional
guidelines, i.e.,
directions, assembly
instructions, recipe,
etc., ...
Effective Presentations

Doug Jeffries on Effective Presentation Skills
40
Effective Presentations

Making Effective Presentations

41
Effective Presentations
• Research has shown that

most messages are delivered
through nonverbal means

– 7 % is conveyed ...
Effective Presentations
Body Positioning
• Don’t stand directly in front of
your slides, charts, graphs
• Place yourself t...
Effective Presentations
Opening and Introduction
•
•

•
•

The opening should capture
and hold the listeners’
attention
In...
Effective Presentations
Delivery
• Now tell them what you came
to tell them
• Be convincing, know your
material,
• Present...
Effective Presentations
Conclusion
• Finally, tell them what
you told them
• Tie all your ideas
together in a summary
that...
Effective Presentations
• Follow the 10/20/30 Rule:

– A presentation shouldn’t have more than 10 slides
– Be no longer th...
Effective Editing

• Look at your writing
with cold eyes
–

View your writing
objectively

• Read your copy
slowly.

48
Effective Editing
Proofing vs. Editing
• Proofing is reviewing
for mechanical
directness (spelling,
grammar, etc.)
• Editi...
Effective Editing
Revise by Section
• Opening
– Introduce your message
– Should state your
purpose, topic
– Should arouse ...
Effective Editing
Body
• Each section must
contribute to message
development
• Eliminate excess
baggage
• Imagine you are ...
Effective Editing
Body/Before

Body/After

The number of people filing new claims
for unemployment insurance in the week
e...
Effective Editing
Conclusion
• Restate the main
point, or
• Summarize main
ideas, or
• Draw conclusions, or
• Suggest a
re...
Editing Techniques
• Edit only after you've written
the entire piece. If you stop
to edit after every paragraph
or sentenc...
Editing Techniques
• Verify the spelling of names,
figures, dates, and
addresses
• Be sure what you’re quoting
is accurate...
Effective Editing
Editing Content
•

Be sure you did not stray from
your topic. Are your paragraphs
coherent?

•

Did you ...
Effective Editing
What about tone and style?
•

Does your work reflect your
writing style or does it sound like
a copied w...
Effective Editing
Edit for tightness:
• Remove redundant and useless
words
• Did you vary the length of your
sentences? Co...
Effective Editing
Edit this message
In the second month of the third quarter, we will begin a process
that will minimize o...
Proofing vs. Editing
Recap
• Proofing is reviewing
for mechanical
directness (spelling,
grammar, etc.)
• Editing focuses o...
Common Proofreading Errors
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•

Spelling
Punctuation
Commas
Apostrophes
Periods
Verbs
Subject-verb agree...
Proofreading Techniques
• Read it out loud and
also silently
• Read it backwards
to focus on the
spelling of words
• Use a...
Proofreading Techniques
• Use a blank sheet of paper
to cover material not yet
proofed
• Point with your finger to
read on...
Proofreading Techniques

• Print it and read it.

64
Proofreading Techniques
•
•

Read down columns in a table, even
if you're supposed to read across the
table to use the inf...
Proofreading Techniques
• First, proof the body of the
text. Then go back and
proof the headings.
– Headings are prone to ...
Preparing to Proofread
• Write at the end of the day;
edit first thing in the morning
• Listen to music or chew
gum
– Proo...
Preparing to Proofread
• Read something else
between edits. This
helps clear your head
of what you expect to
read and allo...
Proofreading Examples

69
Proofreading Examples

70
Proofreading Examples

• Samples

71
Tone and Style
• Tone, attitude are
remembered far longer than
content
• Emotions can undo even the
simplest messages
– Po...
Tone and Style
• Always start with a
pleasant or natural
sounding opening
sentence
• Do not blurt out bad
news – provide
c...
Tone and Style
• State the message directly
– Don’t tap dance
around tough issues
– Use clear language
– Focus on what can...
Tone and Style

• Be sensitive to the
sound of words

75
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Baruch 09. business writing

  1. 1. Business Writing Baruch College
  2. 2. Overview • In business, the ability to communicate clearly, concisely is a competitive asset … - For the organization you work for - For you, from a career standpoint • Most businesses are 50 years behind the political and entertainment arenas when it comes to communicating. - Heavy reliance on emails, “push-down” communications, PowerPoint presentations - Content is inconsistent, loaded with jargon, and largely ignored 2
  3. 3. Overview More than half of all business audiences will ignore internally produced communications because they consider the content professionally“spun” and sugar coated. Watson Wyatt 3
  4. 4. Environmental Factors “Mr. Magoo Effect” (Guerilla PR Wired) - We’re all overwhelmed by information - 10,000 messages today vs. 1,000 in 1983 - What we think we see or hear is really something different - Comprehension is vague 4
  5. 5. Environmental Factors • Mr. Magoo Effect is compounded by “Data Smog.” - Brain capacity is inundated - Can only recall soundbites … not all of it is accurate - We’re making decisions based on bits of information that mesh with pre-conceived beliefs or perceptions. 5
  6. 6. Central Challenge How do we effectively communicate in a business world where audiences are overwhelmed, highly skeptical and difficult to reach? 6
  7. 7. Central Challenge • Answer is part … – Content: Ensuring your message is clear, simple and understandable – Delivery mechanism: Using the right platform(s) at the right time to communicate your message – Approach: Can’t just create it, send it out, and expect people to absorb it. Depending on subject you may also have to cascade it through the organization by word of mouth – Cultural: You have to adapt the way you craft and deliver your messages to the culture you’re in. 7
  8. 8. Central Challenge Formal Communications Channels Organizational Cascade (Word of mouth) email intranet Webcasts text messaging newsletters voice mail blogs podcasts town halls (Credibility levels vary) CEO Senior Level Execs Middle Mgmt All Employees (Credibility is high) All Employees 8
  9. 9. Context: Know Your Audience • If you don’t know who you’re communicating to, the message and the delivery are wasted. 9
  10. 10. Communications Types • The three main forms of business communications are: 1. Internal-operational communication (what business says to implement its operating plan) 2. External-operational communication (communication to outside stakeholders (other business, the media, Wall Street, government, etc.) 3. Personal communication (informal, uncontrolled exchanges of information, i.e., the grapevine). • Note: Grapevine often carries the most weight and is a major factor in employee satisfaction levels. 10
  11. 11. Context: Less is More “Blessed is the man who, having nothing to say, abstains from giving in words evidence of the fact.” British Novelist George Eliot 11
  12. 12. Context: Conversational Style • Strive for a conversational style that’s always business like, professional. • Write the way you talk. • But don’t overwrite. 12
  13. 13. Email: Too Much is Self-Defeating To: All Supervisors From: Joel Cairo To: All Supervisors Hurricane Raoul is about 200 miles south of Charleston, S.C. He is still a Category 5 hurricane with sustained winds of 175 mph … gusts to 220. Hurricane Raoul is expected to arrive here by midnight. Thunderstorms and rain will accompany this storm until it moves out of the area by late afternoon tomorrow. He is moving North by Northwest very speedily and will arrive here by midnight. The Hurricane Center expects Raoul to move across South Carolina and then up the East Coast through Atlantic City and points north to Boston before tracking westward ho. We think the track will continue north but who are we to question the experts at the National Weather Bureau? After all, they hired my brother-in-law so how good can they really be? This in indeed as strong a tropical storm as we can ever hope to see in our part of the country. Then again it might peter out and all the fuss will have been for nothing. But right now we know that winds will steadily increase and be strongest around midnight. Lots of rain and thunderstorms expected along with this storm. The storm is expected to move out of the region by tomorrow afternoon but in the meantime coastal areas will have to be carefully monitored and all safety precautions regarding personnel, equipment and facilities will must be taken. Please take immediate appropriate precautions regarding personnel, vulnerable outdoor equipment, and facilities. From: J. Cairo 13
  14. 14. Composing Power E-mails Subject Lines • Create precise attention-getting subject lines: – Revised Customer Service – – – Procedures Action Required: Selecting Your Health Benefits Company Announces Second Quarter Earnings Results Jet Flyovers Scheduled Today Over Manhattan 14
  15. 15. Composing Power E-mails Avoid weak openings • • • • WEAK: “This is in response to the message I received from you concerning the best time for us to meet …” vs. STRONG: “Evan and I can meet with your at 2 pm on Friday to discuss plant safety.” WEAK: “The purpose of this email is to inform you that the Maintenance Department will begin work on the following list of various outdoor repairs on June 28, but you need to know that all this depends on the weather …” vs. STRONG: “The Maintenance Department will begin work on the outdoor repairs listed below on June 28.” 15
  16. 16. Composing Power E-mails Content • Organize content for easier reading: – Provide the most important information first. – Visualize the details of your message as section of an inverted pyramid that follow either: • Cause/effect • Problem/Solution – Or: • Who? • What? • When? Where? Why? How? 16
  17. 17. Composing Power E-mails Tone • Strike a balance between language that seems conversational but is also precise and professional. • Use contractions (“I’ll call you on Friday if the package doesn’t arrive by noon”). • Use personal pronouns such as I, we, and you to convey directness. 17
  18. 18. Composing Power E-mails Tone • Avoid using “one” because it’s pontifical (“One should be able to complete the test in an hour”). • It’s okay to end sentences with prepositions (“Who are you attending the meeting with?”) but don’t overdo it. • However familiar you may be with the reader, corporate e-mail must reflect a formal cordiality, dignity and seriousness of purpose. 18
  19. 19. Composing Power E-mails General Guidelines • Page 130 of text. 19
  20. 20. When to Use Email • Email works best for direct and non-time sensitive information. Use email when: – Action is required. – You need to reach a lot of people quickly. BUT … • Email is the most overused form of communication and the • most ignored. If your message is urgent you need to say in the subject line so to ensure it’s not ignore or deleted. – But even that won’t guarantee an immediate response. • Don’t rely on email as your sole communications vehicle. • Follow up in person or with a call if it’s one-on-one. 20
  21. 21. Bad Email Habits • Buried requests sandwiched between unimportant information. – “Hi Bob, I’ve been considering your – new proposal for adjusting the customer service policy. I think we should meet up and talk about it. Your proposal seems actionable, but I have a few concerns …” vs. “Hi Bob, When do you want to meet to discuss your proposal for adjusting customer service policy? • Trying to Be Clever – Don’t try to be witty or sarcastic in an e-mail and pretend as if everything you say will be taken literally. 21
  22. 22. Bad Email Habits • Bulky Paragraphs – People don’t read e-mails, they skim. So don’t write an eight sentence paragraph in one chunk. – If it’s more than six lines split it up in easy to digest paragraphs. – If the info is really important use a one-line paragraph. – Multiple pieces of important information? Make a quick bulleted list. (Like this one) • Playing Email Tag – It’s annoying – Don’t use email to carry on a conversation. – Use the phone or IM. 22
  23. 23. Writing Assignment • Write an email to your manager or someone you’ve worked for • • • proposing a project you feel passionately about. Give the rationale, benefits and why it is important. Give next steps. Encourage feedback. 23
  24. 24. Ch.1: Effective Writing Keys to Effective Writing • Recognize that writing is • • • • • • • inherently stressful Do whatever you can to relax Don’t dwell on deadline Think through the assignment Make sure you understand it Get coffee Call someone Do anything but write. 24
  25. 25. Effective Writing Habits • Pay attention to your environment • You’ll write best where you’re comfortable • Quiet, secluded rooms are often best. 25
  26. 26. Ch. 2 Getting Started • Readable writing makes the best impression – Conveys your ideas with clarity, precision – Reader: I understand every word the writer is trying to express. Before High-quality learning environments are a necessary precondition for facilitation and enhancement of the ongoing learning process. After Children need good schools to learn properly. 26
  27. 27. Ch. 2: Getting Started Before If there are any points on which you require explanation or further particulars we shall be glad to furnish such additional details as may be required by telephone. After If you have any questions, please phone. 27
  28. 28. Ch. 2: Writing Clearly • Ten Principles of Clear Writing • Accept the fact that there is no perfect writing … writing is always evolving and can always be improved. 28
  29. 29. Ch. 3: Knowing the Reader What do you need to know before you write? • What’s the goal/point of the • • • • • message? Is audience internal or external? Do you know the reader? What are the reader’s concerns or expectations? Will others (outside of the primary readers) see this? How much do they know about the subject? – Do they have the expertise to understand the content? 29
  30. 30. Ch. 3: Knowing the Reader Key Points • The less your reader knows, the more you need to explain by: – Framing the issue/topic – Providing background or – – – context Explaining technical terms, abbreviations Using illustrations Possibly an executive summary 30
  31. 31. Ch. 3: Writing for the Reader The Basic Roadmap 1. 2. 3. Begin with a topic sentence Provide details to support or clarify your initial statement Conclusion or closing completes your message and provides a sense of unity with: – – – • Recommendations Solutions Calls for action Pages 34-35 31
  32. 32. Writing Assignment • Write a letter to someone you know • • • recommending a movie or book you’ve recently seen Explain why they should see the movie or read the book Provide details supporting your opening statement Develop a conclusion that urges action and tells the reader where they can see the movie or buy the book. 32
  33. 33. Final Notes on Resumes • Present information selectively about your professional experience – Highlight information that will help you get the job • Avoid salary listings or expectations – Save that for the interview • Use action verbs to describe your accomplishments – Page 175 in text. 33
  34. 34. Final Notes on Resumes • Typos are killers – Proof read carefully • Take credit for what you’ve done but don’t stretch the truth. 34
  35. 35. Writing Instructions • Not the place to show • • off your writing skills Assume the reader knows nothing about how to do this or assembling Clarity, simplicity is paramount. 35
  36. 36. Tips for Writing Instructions • Know your audience • Provide a brief introduction – What is the purpose of the document – Who should read it – What are outcomes – What it will not do – List of requirements (what is need for the job) 36
  37. 37. Tips for Writing Instructions • Write each step as a command – “Insert Tab A into Tab B” Not – “Tab B should be inserted into Tab A” • Use numbers for commands, bullets for options 37
  38. 38. Tips for Writing Instructions • Use easy to understand visuals • Use simple words and sentences – Use active words, not – – passive I.e., “Turn the screw three times to the right.” Not The screw is turned three times to the right.” 38
  39. 39. Writing Assignment • Write step-by-step instructional guidelines, i.e., directions, assembly instructions, recipe, etc., that clearly and concisely demonstrate how to do something that you know how to do. 39
  40. 40. Effective Presentations Doug Jeffries on Effective Presentation Skills 40
  41. 41. Effective Presentations Making Effective Presentations 41
  42. 42. Effective Presentations • Research has shown that most messages are delivered through nonverbal means – 7 % is conveyed by actual words – – or content 38% is transmitted by tone of voice and volume of speech 55% is delivered via non-verbal information, such as facial expressions, posture, hand gestures, and how you carry yourself 42
  43. 43. Effective Presentations Body Positioning • Don’t stand directly in front of your slides, charts, graphs • Place yourself to the left of the screen as we read from left to right • Use your hand, pointer, or mouse to direct attention to important points, with the information to your writinghand side • Direct all speech at your audience; don't talk into the screen or flip chart • Don’t hide behind a podium or table, or sit in such a way that some or all audience members cannot see and/or hear you 43
  44. 44. Effective Presentations Opening and Introduction • • • • The opening should capture and hold the listeners’ attention In the first minute, you should state the problem (need or opportunity) that is the focus of your discussion Explain why is it important, who it affects, and how Tell them what your going to tell them in response the problem, need, opportunity, or situation 44
  45. 45. Effective Presentations Delivery • Now tell them what you came to tell them • Be convincing, know your material, • Present your logical points in a confident and organized way • Stress the main points of the content; reiterate them throughout your presentation • Be objective and air both positive and negative views where appropriate • Listeners should be able to build their notes into a near replica of your presentation outline 45
  46. 46. Effective Presentations Conclusion • Finally, tell them what you told them • Tie all your ideas together in a summary that clearly and neatly packages your message • When you end your presentation, the audience should leave with an unmistakable understanding of your message 46
  47. 47. Effective Presentations • Follow the 10/20/30 Rule: – A presentation shouldn’t have more than 10 slides – Be no longer than 20 minutes or have slides written in less than 30 point type • Incorporate the Rule of 3 because we remember in threes (3 Stooges, three blind mice) … and if applicable, leave your audience with three ideas you want them to remember. • Nonverbal Communications Strategies 47
  48. 48. Effective Editing • Look at your writing with cold eyes – View your writing objectively • Read your copy slowly. 48
  49. 49. Effective Editing Proofing vs. Editing • Proofing is reviewing for mechanical directness (spelling, grammar, etc.) • Editing focuses on clarity of content, format, tone, organization of ideas. Edit first, proof last! 49
  50. 50. Effective Editing Revise by Section • Opening – Introduce your message – Should state your purpose, topic – Should arouse interest – Be concise Before Recent reports show that durable goods orders rose in June for the third month out of four, claims for unemployment are lower this year than during the same quarter of last year, and retail sales are rising. After Durable goods order rose for the third consecutive month in June, quarterly unemployment claims decreased, and retail sales rose. 50
  51. 51. Effective Editing Body • Each section must contribute to message development • Eliminate excess baggage • Imagine you are being charged by the word. 51
  52. 52. Effective Editing Body/Before Body/After The number of people filing new claims for unemployment insurance in the week ending August 1 fell by 38,000 to 550,000 as the Labor Department received a larger than expected decline in not seasonally adjusted claims. Labor's seasonal expectation was for a decline of 15,800 claims, but it received a much larger 48,300 decline, pulling down the overall seasonally adjusted number to 550k. Economists were expecting claims to decline only to 580,000 from the 588,000 claims reported in the previous week. The four-week moving average calculation of first-time claims, which tends to smooth out fluctuations in weekly data, fell by 4,750 to 555,250, its lowest level since January. The number of first-time unemployment filers fell by 38,000 to 550,000 on Aug. 1, as seasonally adjusted claims declined more than expected. Officials were looking for a drop of 15,800 claims, but the actual number was much larger at 48,300, which reduced the overall seasonally adjusted number to 550k. Claims were expected to decline to only 580,000 from the 588,000 claims reported in the previous week. The four-week moving average of first-time claims, which tends to smooth out fluctuations in weekly data, fell by 4,750 to 555,250, its lowest level since January. 52
  53. 53. Effective Editing Conclusion • Restate the main point, or • Summarize main ideas, or • Draw conclusions, or • Suggest a recommendation based on previous details Ex.: As a result of changes in our production schedule, we must hire additional personal immediately. 53
  54. 54. Editing Techniques • Edit only after you've written the entire piece. If you stop to edit after every paragraph or sentence, you will disrupt the flow of your thoughts • Take a break before starting to edit a longer message so you'll have a fresh perspective. 54
  55. 55. Editing Techniques • Verify the spelling of names, figures, dates, and addresses • Be sure what you’re quoting is accurate and correct! Otherwise, rephrase the line and omit the quotation marks • Follow your organization’s style guidelines, e.g., number of words required, font/font size specified, spacing, margins, etc. 55
  56. 56. Effective Editing Editing Content • Be sure you did not stray from your topic. Are your paragraphs coherent? • Did you fulfill your purpose for writing that piece? • Did you provide enough supporting information and data (graphs, charts, figures) to support your purpose statement? • If applicable, did your article answer the 5 Ws and H? Who, what, why, were, when and how. 56
  57. 57. Effective Editing What about tone and style? • Does your work reflect your writing style or does it sound like a copied work? • Did you use the active voice? Are you consistent with the point of view you used? • Do your title and the words you used match the tone of your piece? 57
  58. 58. Effective Editing Edit for tightness: • Remove redundant and useless words • Did you vary the length of your sentences? Combining long with short sentences makes your article easier and more natural to read • Is the body of your message longer than the introduction (lead)? – Some writers focus on an effective lead to hook the readers but neglect the body of message. 58
  59. 59. Effective Editing Edit this message In the second month of the third quarter, we will begin a process that will minimize our energy costs by an estimated 65 percent and reduce our overall carbon footprint. This process is called “electrical minimization” and it involves the cessation of illumination on floors where occupational activities have ceased after normal working hours. Illumination devices will cease operations on these floors promptly at 6:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. For this practice to be effective, all employees must comply. 59
  60. 60. Proofing vs. Editing Recap • Proofing is reviewing for mechanical directness (spelling, grammar, etc.) • Editing focuses on clarity of content, format, tone, organization of ideas. Edit first, proof last! 60
  61. 61. Common Proofreading Errors • • • • • • • • • • • Spelling Punctuation Commas Apostrophes Periods Verbs Subject-verb agreement Pronouns Other grammatical errors Sentence fragments Misplaced or dangling modifiers Edit first, proof last! 61
  62. 62. Proofreading Techniques • Read it out loud and also silently • Read it backwards to focus on the spelling of words • Use a spell checker and grammar checker as a first screening, but don't depend on them • Have others read it • Read it slowly. 62
  63. 63. Proofreading Techniques • Use a blank sheet of paper to cover material not yet proofed • Point with your finger to read one word at a time • Don't proof for every type of mistake at once -- do one proof for spelling, another for missing/additional spaces, consistency of word usage, font sizes, etc. • If you are editing within Word, use the "track changes" or "mark changes" function to make your comments apparent to other reviewers. 63
  64. 64. Proofreading Techniques • Print it and read it. 64
  65. 65. Proofreading Techniques • • Read down columns in a table, even if you're supposed to read across the table to use the information Use editor's flags – Put #s in the document where reviewers need to pay special attention, or next to items that need to be double-checked before the final proof print – Do a final search for all # flags and remove them • Give a copy of the document to someone else and keep a copy yourself. – Take turns reading it out loud to each other. – While one of you reads, the other one follows along to catch any errors and awkward-sounding phrases. This method also works well when proofing numbers and codes. 65
  66. 66. Proofreading Techniques • First, proof the body of the text. Then go back and proof the headings. – Headings are prone to errors because copy editors often don't focus on them • Double check fonts that are unusual (italic, bold, or otherwise different). 66
  67. 67. Preparing to Proofread • Write at the end of the day; edit first thing in the morning • Listen to music or chew gum – Proofing can be boring and requires focus and concentration – Anything that can relieve pressure, while allowing you to still keep focused, is a benefit • Avoid fluorescent lighting when proofing – The flicker rate is actually slower than standard lighting – Your eyes can't pick up inconsistencies as easily under fluorescent lighting. 67
  68. 68. Preparing to Proofread • Read something else between edits. This helps clear your head of what you expect to read and allows you to read what really is on the page. 68
  69. 69. Proofreading Examples 69
  70. 70. Proofreading Examples 70
  71. 71. Proofreading Examples • Samples 71
  72. 72. Tone and Style • Tone, attitude are remembered far longer than content • Emotions can undo even the simplest messages – Post no angry or silly messages • Always strive for a professional tone • Avoid indifference 72
  73. 73. Tone and Style • Always start with a pleasant or natural sounding opening sentence • Do not blurt out bad news – provide context, rationale, then deliver the news 73
  74. 74. Tone and Style • State the message directly – Don’t tap dance around tough issues – Use clear language – Focus on what can be done • Suggest optimism for future resolution of issue and close cordially • Avoid email if possible for bad news – use face-toface. 74
  75. 75. Tone and Style • Be sensitive to the sound of words 75

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