Write lines: improve your business writing

What happened when we left an error in an email to 7,000 people

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What happened when we left an error in an email to 7,000 people

I love my job, on most days. We help people with a task that millions find very stressful and problematic. So it’s incredibly rewarding to be able to relieve that pain. For me, it’s the best job in the world. Most days. Then there are the other (thankfully) much rarer days, when things don’t quite […]

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Got writer’s block? Try this.

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Got writer’s block? Try this.

For many people, MS Word is practically synonymous with writing on a computer. Even die-hard Mac fans frequently use it in preference to the Apple alternatives. I used to be among this group. But in the past year, I’ve found a way of hugely improving my efficiency when writing. And it meant ditching Word until […]

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How and when do you write etc, ie and eg?

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How and when do you write etc, ie and eg?

Generally we advise giving Latin a wide berth when it comes to writing work documents or emails. There are exceptions, of course. Lawyers depend on it as a kind of technical shorthand among colleagues. (Some Latin has even entered common usage – alibi, for example.) So do doctors. But using it when writing to people outside […]

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Should I write ‘compared to’ or ‘compared with’?

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Should I write ‘compared to’ or ‘compared with’?

There’s a subtle but useful difference between ‘compared to’ and ‘compared with’. ‘Compared to’ highlights a similarity between two things. ‘Compared with’ does the opposite: it contrasts them. Confusing the two is way down the list of word crimes and misdemeanours. It hardly merits a mention when compared with (as you might say) misspelling someone’s specialism in an email […]

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Ten differences between UK and US English

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Ten differences between UK and US English

Some differences between UK and US English are well documented. For example, most people know that football is a different game in North America and the UK, and any American in the UK quickly learns not to talk about fanny packs. But there are also some more subtle differences that might stymie visitors to Britain, […]

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The best fonts for business documents

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The best fonts for business documents

Courier makes you look like a nerd, Comic Sans is for attention seekers and sans serif fans value their safety and anonymity. So says Simon Garfield, the font of all font wisdom, in his book Just My Type (which we’ve reviewed here). For those of us who don’t deal in fonts every day, this level […]

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Make communicating numbers as simple as 1, 2, 3

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Make communicating numbers as simple as 1, 2, 3

Being able to write about numbers well is a core skill. But it can become needlessly fraught – mainly because those who find maths straightforward often don’t understand why it’s difficult for others to grasp. Luckily, there are three principles that can take the pain out of the process: simplify, signpost and be specific. 1. […]

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You can always leave ‘that’ out – true or false?

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You can always leave ‘that’ out – true or false?

Recently, we were asked to settle a dispute between colleagues over the word that. The example given was:  ‘The consensus was the chief executive was right’ vs ‘The consensus was that the chief executive was right’. Our correspondent had written the former, but his colleague had insisted on the latter. Which do you think is […]

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Blast through writer’s block with this seven-step technique

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Blast through writer’s block with this seven-step technique

How do you vanquish writer’s block? Some say to just start writing, even if you later have to delete half of what you’ve written. Some say to begin with the middle and add the introduction and conclusion later. Some say to make a list. We say: grab some paper and a pen, and step away […]

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Five reasons to ignore your grammar gremlins (for now)

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Five reasons to ignore your grammar gremlins (for now)

Here’s the good news: if you’re worried your documents are not as good as they could be, your grammar is probably not the problem. Don’t get me wrong. Grammar matters. Of course it does. Getting it wrong can undermine your reputation (though probably not as much as you think – see below). Poor grammar can […]

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