A GUIDE TO PROFESSIONAL/BUSINESS WRITING

THE WRITE ADVICE

SPECIAL EDITION

UWF WRITING LAB

 


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Business FAQ's
Taken from the
UWF Grammar Hotline Log

Q: What salutation is appropriate when a letter is being 
     sent to two people with Ph.D.'s?
A: Drs. Ronald and Mary Lowe-Evans -- 
     Dear Drs. Evans and Lowe-Evans:
     Drs. Gary and Marcia Howard
-- Dear Drs. 
     Howard:

Q: What is the plural of these words: statute of 
     limitations
and attorney general?
A: statutes of limitations; attorney generals OR 
     attorneys general 
     (American Heritage Dictionary
, 3rd ed.)

Q: What's correct - Boss's Day or Bosses' Day, 
     Secretary's Day
or Secretaries' Day, President's 
     Day
or Presidents' Day?
A: All are plural possessive: Bosses' Day, Secretaries' 
     Day, Presidents' Day (
and Veterans' Day)

Q: Is it correct to use an ampersand (&) with a comma in 
     the name of a company -- Bui, Davis, & Britnell for 
     instance?
A: Omit the comma preceding the ampersand. 
     (Chicago Manual of Style)

Q: Is a colon correct preceding a vertical or horizontal 
     list?
     Ex. Your portfolio should include: a cover letter,  
     resume, and sample of your work
A: Do not use a colon after a verb or a preposition, even 
     if a list follows. 
    
(Chicago Manual of Style and 
     Real Good Grammar, Too
)

Q: In a business letter, what salutation is appropriate 
     when you don't know the addressee's name?
A: Do one of the following: Use a descriptive title (Dear 
     Human Resources Director); use an attention line 
     (ATTENTION: Human Resources Director); use a 
     subject line (SUBJECT: Manager Position) 
     (Write on Target)

Q: Is it all right to make up a word or to verb a noun?
     Ex. The applicant was credentialized
     The DOT has four-laned the highway.
     This report will not annualize well.
     I'll calendar the date.
A: Nonce words/neologisms are acceptable only if no 
     other word exists to convey the meaning. There is no 
     need to create the word publicization when 
     publicity
already exists. Check a dictionary of new 
     words. 
     (Millward's Handbook for Writers, 3rd Ed).

Q: Which is correct?  We reached a consensus.  We 
     reached consensus.
A: We reached a consensus. 
     (Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English)

Q: Are collective nouns such as committee and jury 
     singular or plural?
A: Collective nouns may be singular or plural depending 
     on whether they refer to the groups as a unit or to the  
     individual members of the group acting separately. 
     The committee has made its decision. Or The 
     committee disagree concerning the newest 
     nomination. 
     (Real Good Grammar, Too)

Q: What's the abbreviation for the plural of the 
     following?  Mr.      Mrs.
     And what is the abbreviation of Association?
A: Mr. - Messrs. 
     (Scott Foresman Handbook of Usage)
     Mrs. - Mmes. or Mmes 
     (Webster's Secretarial Handbook)
     Assoc. or Assn. 
     (Webster's Dictionary)

Q: How do you make abbreviations and numbers plural?
A: Form the plural by adding -s alone or -`s.
     ATMs or ATM's 
     There are five 3's in my phone number.
     MRIs LPOs 
     (Chicago Manual of Style)

Q: Is a comma needed in this date?  January 2003
A: No comma is necessary with only two components of 
     a date.

Q: Is it appropriate to write, type, or sign a business 
     document in red ink?
A: Though we could not find a source for this answer, we 
     know that common practice is to use blue or black 
     ink for business documents.

 

Business Vocabulary

1.  IT IS IN PROGRESS - So wrapped in red tape that 
     the situation is almost hopeless.
2.  WE WILL LOOK INTO IT - By the time the wheel 
     makes a full turn, we assume you will have forgotten 
     about it.
3.  A PROGRAM - Any assignment that can't be 
     completed by one telephone call.
4.  CONSULTANT (or expert) - Any ordinary person 
     more than 50 miles from home (must have briefcase).
5.  TO ACTIVATE - To make copies and add more 
     names to the memo.
6.  TO IMPLEMENT A PROGRAM - Hire more 
     people and expand the office.
7.  UNDER CONSIDERATION - Never heard of it.
8.  UNDER ACTIVE CONSIDERATION - We are 
     looking in the files for it.
9.  A MEETING - A mass mulling by master minds.
10. TO NEGOTIATE - To seek a meeting of minds 
     without a knocking together of heads.
11. RE-ORIENTATION - Getting used to working 
     again.
12. RELIABLE SOURCE - The person you just met.
13. INFORMED SOURCE - The person who told the 
     guy you just met.
14. UNIMPEACHABLE SOURCE - The person who 
     started the rumor originally.
15. A CLARIFICATION - To fill in the background 
     with so many details that the foreground goes 
     underground.
16. WE ARE MAKING A SURVEY - We need more 
     time to think of an answer.
17. NOTE AND INITIAL - Let's spread the 
     responsibility for this.
18. SEE ME OR LET'S DISCUSS - You're in trouble.
19. LET'S GET TOGETHER ON THIS - I'm assuming 
     you're as confused as I am.
20. GIVE US THE BENEFIT OF YOUR PRESENT 
     THINKING
- We'll listen to what you have to say as 
     long as it doesn't interfere with what we have already 
     decided to do.
21. WILL ADVISE YOU IN DUE COURSE - If we 
     figure it out, we'll let you know.
22. TAKE SOME DICTATION - Correctly type this 
     document for me.

 

Business Bloopers

These errors were taken from actual business correspondence and advertising materials.

Guessed Speaker

Extinguished
guests

References available a pone request

Thank you for your corporation.

Up and atom

Selling
and satisfying our customers is our first priority.

One of the best sailing cars in the world

Patriotic launch menus

A hand full of employees

Money must be paid before hands.

Supervisors need patients.

A combonation of skill and intelligence

Car being toad

Next store neighbor

A doggy dog world

Conflict in the dessert

Flags will be flied over post offices.

Free, private consolation

No dying in washing machines

We will offer you a prescription to our magazine.

 


Proofreading Tip:
  Make sure that the placement of titles, headlines, tables, headers and footers, text, etc. is consistent.

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