Category Archives: Businesses

Posts for those who write on the job.

Where Does the Comma Go?

Do commas confuse you?

The final stage of the writing and editing process is proofreading: correcting any errors in spelling, punctuation, word usage, and format. Roughly 75% of what I do while proofreading clients’ documents is correct commas.

When I teach university writing courses, I ask the students, “What’s the number one thing that confuses you about punctuation and grammar?” In every class, someone says “Commas,” and about half of the students nod in agreement.

Commas confuse most people. Unlike other types of punctuation, they are used in so many ways. However, if you want to write clearly and professionally, you need to use commas correctly. Continue reading

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Doing the Right Thing for Your Clients

I’m in a business where I can do what I love: help clients communicate well through writing. If I do this well, and if I provide a service or product that people want at a price they are willing to pay, I make money. My profit, therefore, is a good indicator of the health and quality of my business. As a former accounting professor told me, “Money in, good. Money out, bad.”

Sometimes the money has to go out. Of course, every business has expenses: people to pay, services to contract, supplies to buy, etc. But sometimes, the money goes out because it’s the right thing to do. I’ll give you two examples of this concept. Continue reading

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Restoring the Power of Clichés

How a cliché becomes a cliché

When a particular cliché was first used (before it became a cliché), it created an impact. It used words in an interesting and novel way. The person who heard or read the expression might have thought, “Gosh, that’s a really creative way to express that idea.” Then, when other people began to use that expression, they were not clever; they were copycats. Having no interesting ideas of their own, they used someone else’s idea. When many people do this, the once clever expression became a cliché. Continue reading

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6 Guidelines for E-mail Etiquette

When I teach writing courses to business professionals, I often get asked questions about the “rules” for writing e-mails. These students want to communicate professionally, which is why they are in my classes, and this includes how they present themselves and deliver their content in e-mails. 


In response to the question about e-mail “rules,” I answer that I don’t know of any. What I do offer, however, are guidelines for business and personal letters, modified for the e-mail format. These guidelines follow two basic principles. 

1. Business e-mails and personal e-mails serve different purposes.
2. Business e-mails are formal correspondences. 

With these two principles in mind, here are 6 guidelines for writing e-mail. 

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Filed under Businesses, Mechanics, Students, Writing

Politics and Rhetoric: A Strategy for Negating Criticism

PoliticsandRhetoricI am intrigued by the fight between the Fox News channel and the Obama administration. But this article is not going to be about politics, about who is right or wrong, or even about how each side is interpreting the actions of the other. I’ll leave the political analysis to political experts. I’m an expert in communication, so this article is about communication strategies. 

Presidential advisor David Axelrod caught my attention Sunday when he said that Fox News shouldn’t be treated as a news organization. With this statement he attacked the credibility of Fox to criticize the Obama administration, and that got me thinking. His words reminded me of a familiar rhetorical strategy: Counter criticism with condescension. Where had I seen that before?  Continue reading

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Why We Give Away Free Stuff

People who communicate well can achieve their goals. Good communication leads to success and strong relationships. On the other hand, poor communication can create hostility or, even worse, indifference. In business, in school, and in many other arenas, good communication depends on the ability to write well.

Our business at Precise Edit is helping people communicate well in writing. We help people write what they mean clearly and in a manner that provokes a desired response. This is more than our job—it’s what we believe in.

In addition to the services we provide and books we sell, we give away a lot of free writing help, free writing resources, and free writing guides. This blog is only one outlet for the free writing instruction we provide.


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How does rain fall? Continually or continuously?

When I awoke this morning, rain was falling. During mid-morning, the rain was still falling. I just looked out my window, and, sure enough, the rain has not yet stopped.

So, here’s the question. How does the rain fall? Has the rain been falling continually or continuously? Continually and continuously have different meanings. Which word is right?

Continuously means occurring without pause or break. This morning, the rain has been falling continuously. It hasn’t stopped falling during the time described, i.e., this day. At no time during this day has the rain stopped falling. It started, and it continued. If rain doesn’t stop (at least during a specific time period), it is falling continuously.


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