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Writing Skills Matter

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by

Jennifer Bouchard

on 28 September 2015

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Transcript of Writing Skills Matter

Writing Skills Matter
People who write well do well.
LinkedIn evaluated 100 profiles on its site and discovered that, in the same 10-year period, professionals who received six to nine promotions made 45% less grammatical errors than other professionals in the study.
The only way some people know you is through your writing.
You are a professional writer.
Your success depends on the writing you produce.
Not this: But this:
Your writing should be as polished as you can make it.
"Good writing is hard work even for the best writer, but the principles are simple."
Use short words and short sentences (<20 words).
Be Relentlessly Clear.
"Ambiguity often results from a single sentence carrying too much cargo."
currently
initiate
indicate
finalize
utilize
now
start
show
finish
use
Passive: She was chased [by zombies].
Active: Zombies chased her.
Keep your language simple, but precise.
Use active verbs
Beware of zombies!
Get to the point.
Provide only the information the reader needs to understand.
No more, and no less.
Ask yourself what it is you want to say. Then say it.
Punctuate properly.
1. Hyphenate your phrasal adjectives.
Ex. 10-day extension, out-of-network hospital,
limited-liability clause, 15-year-old girl
2. Don't use an apostrophe to form plural nouns.
Exceptions (not exception’s) are made for lowercase letters. Example: There are three a’s in banana.
3. Use a colon or comma -- never a semicolon -- after
a salutation.
Keep your fingers off the underline, bold and caps lock keys.
Use italics instead, if you must.
Watch Your Tone.
WHY ARE YOU SHOUTING AT ME?
5. Punctuation goes inside the
quotation marks.
6. Parentheses cannot stand alone (put
them inside a sentence).
7. Avoid quotation marks as a way of
emphasizing words.
1. It’s perfectly fine to start a sentence with And
or But.
2. It’s perfectly fine to end a sentence with a preposition.
4. Both neither and either, as subjects, take singular
verbs.
Example: Neither of the doctors is in-network.
Six Grammar Rules You Need To Know
3. The subject of the sentence determines the number of the verb.
5. With neither/nor and either/or, the second element
controls the verb.
Ex.: Neither the hospital nor the doctors agree to
the Multiplan discount.
6. An appositive is set off by commas when it is not
essential to the sentence, but no commas when it is
essential.
My client George Bluth had emergency surgery on June 3, 2013.
Essential
My sister Rose Kennedy has a secondary insurance policy with Cigna.
Non-Essential
Mr. Rogers, a longtime customer, sent a letter of complaint.
The doctor who performed the surgery, Dr. Springstein, sang a song to the patient.

If language is not correct,
Then what is said is not what is meant;
If what is said is not what is meant,
Then what ought to be done remains undone.
- Confucius


Passive Voice = The claim was processed [by zombies].
Active Voice = Cigna processed the claim.
Create a culture where editing flourishes.
There's no shame in needing edits from others.

Everyone in an organization can benefit from good editing.
Make sure verb tenses
are correct and consistent.
Organize Your Information.
Use chronological order, when possible. One thing happens, then another...
Summarize key information at the beginning of the document.
Use transitions to take you from one point to the next.
But clarity isn't enough.
You're not writing to your grandma.

You need to be clear AND professional.
Be Relentlessly Correct.
Use Spellcheck.
Use it while you write.

Use it again after you've finished writing.
Use it to check your email.
Practice the rules of
good grammar.
Professional writing is not too formal or too casual.
Whenever possible, use language
that is accessible and friendly.
Words We Don’t Use: Words We Use:
terminate end
advise inform/tell
outreach call/contact
per our guidelines our guidelines state
Bottom line: The tone of your writing should vary with the audience, but it should still sound like
you
.
Keeping Up Appearances
It’s not enough just to be clear and correct. You want your writing to look good too.
Tips for a Professional Appearance:
Keep font type and size consistent .
Professional writing should contain neat, manageable sections.

Paragraphs should be brief.

Information should be easy to find.
Spend some time focusing on the layout and design of your documents.
This includes consistent spacing, clean margins, concise paragraphs, and headings, bullets and tables when appropriate.
Keep margins neat and consistent.
Left-justified (ragged-right) margins
are the easiest to read .
Listing items with numbers or bullets can effectively highlight important information.
Here are some tips for using lists in your writing:

 Do not overuse lists.
 Do not create lists that are too long or too dense.
 Do not use commas, semicolons, or conjunctions.
 Do use periods when the listed items are complete
sentences.
 Do maintain parallel structure throughout your list.
Keep visuals simple.
Allow
white
space around
your text and visuals.
AVOID EXCESSIVE CAPITALIZATION.
Use consistent terminology.
Don't say
customer
in your letter,
but
member
in your table.
Use the
Words We Use
.
Edit Yourself.
Spellcheck is not going to catch incorrect
customer names or missing words.

It won’t let you know if you used the wrong
word (there, their or they’re).
Proofreading shows your readers that
you respect them and that you approach
your work with professionalism.
It is always respectful.
Full transcript