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Business Writing, Email Tips, How to Write

Writing Tips by Lynn Gaertner-Johnston


Business Writing, Email Tips, How to Write

I'm Lynn Gaertner-Johnston, founder of Syntax Training in Seattle, Washington, and a fan of business writing.

Business"Thanks" as a Close Has Gone Too Far!

Last week I was teaching Better Business Writing when a project manager showed me an email he had written to his boss. The message ended with this complimentary close: Thank you for the opportunity to attend, That is not a complimentary close. It's a sentence.

Don't send your Thank-You too soon

Yesterday I visited a professional-service company I'll call Glow and bought one of Glow's services. I filled out the new-customer form, gave it to the receptionist, and sat in the waiting room to be called by the Glow consultant assigned to me. As I waited, I checked my email on my phone.

Proof Reading by Listening

People in business writing seminars often ask me this excellent question: How can I know whether the changes suggested by my Microsoft grammar and spelling checker are correct? You can't, not without understanding the rules of grammar, punctuation, usage, and sentence structure.

Spell Checking

In Microsoft Office the grammar and spelling checker often flags non-errors. It flags certain constructions that have "fooled" the software into detecting a possible error. My grammar and spelling checker flagged a potential error in each item below. But don't be fooled! Each item is correct.


A professor at a nearby university just scheduled an appointment with my daughter. He wrote, "I will meet you at 2 pm, NLT 2:15." NLT? My daughter searched the college map to figure out which building was NLT or NLT 2. She asked me what else NLT might mean.

Writing Condolences

Sample condolences messages

How to Structure a Message of Document

If you are like most people in my business writing classes, you want to write more concisely. It's a terrific goal. Concise writing is much more likely to be read and acted on than wordy messages. But in your efforts to trim extra words, be sure to keep the conjunction that when your readers need it.

Punctuation Pointers

One of the trickier comma rules involves separating adjectives when they come before nouns. It's tricky because only some adjectives in some situations require commas, while others do not. It depends on the relationship between the consecutive adjectives and the noun. These examples are correct with the comma: Thank you for your helpful, detailed report.

Positive Language

On a recent Sunday I went out with my family for breakfast at a pancake house. We were seated at a table next to a family made up of a mother, a father, a young boy in a booster chair, and an infant in the mother's lap.

Grammar and Usage

This past week, when I led the online class Writing Tune-Up for Peak Performance, I was surprised at the number of people who used the word less where they should have used fewer. Test yourself on the items below to find out how much you know before reading this lesson.




I was teaching a business writing workshop recently for an entire team at a company. Attendance was mandatory. When I stopped to look at a participant's laptop to coach the woman on her email, she said, "I don't need your help. I was an English major. I know how to write."

Guide to Grammar and Writing

The Guide to Grammar and Writing contains scores of digital handouts on grammar and English usage, over 170 computer-graded quizzes, recommendations on writing -- from basic problems in subject-verb agreement and the use of articles to exercises in parallel structures and help with argumentative essays, and a way to submit questions about grammar and writing.

Bad Language

Coffee is the legal drug of choice and stimulant for millions. It's there for us in the morning, it's a perfect companion for reading, it's the ideal accompaniment to a date (or to the morning after a very good date) and best of all it is beautiful and exquisite simply in its own right.

OneLook Dictionary Search

Word, phrase or pattern:

E-WRITE | Writing Matters

April 26, 2013 This is a tale of social customer service. The main characters in this story are Bluehost, the company that hosts my website, and me, the customer. Our "happy marriage" has lasted about 4 years, but now we are on the rocks because my website keeps going down.

Business Writing Tips

In our business writing seminars, we help employees and managers improve their business writing skills. We share tools, tips, strategies, job aids, and follow-up resources to help them write better-guaranteed. Here are five business writing tips guaranteed to help you write better immediately.

Communicating Bad News

It requires great care, especially if the news is upsetting.

Add Zing

When you write persuasive pieces such as flyers, brochures, proposals, sales letters, and presentations, it is not enough simply to state facts in plain, reliable prose. You need to engage the reader to inspire a positive response. You need to add zing. Here are 10 ways to add zing to your writing.

Don't Let a Wayward Verb Weaken Your Writing

Do you think your verbs are under control? Or could they be weakening your otherwise powerful messages? Read these eight essential points to keep your verbs in line. Can you recognize the "disagreeable" verbs in these sentences? These sentences show the verbs in agreement: Attached are the signed letter of agreement and the purchase order.

FAQs on the Rules of Business Writing

In offices around the world, writers spend time and energy disputing business writing standards. One person says, "You can't start a sentence with but or and!" Another responds, "But why not? And who says?" If you are quarreling about such questions (if only with yourself), take a break.

How to Write Winning Proposals

How will your amazing process, program, or tool improve their work lives? their effectiveness? their market share? Similarly, don't describe all the steps involved in implementation. Offer that description You win some, you lose some. That rule of life is true of proposals, but you can improve your chances significantly.

Imagine This: Using Analogies

Imagine this scene: You are reading a fairy tale to a spellbound preschooler. Suddenly her face wrinkles and she asks, "What does betray mean?" What will you say? "To be disloyal to"? "To deceive"? Neither of these definitions would be any clearer to her than the word in question.

Writer's Tool Kits

All the talk about performance consulting raises many important issues-issues about key job requirements, environmental factors, and the suitability of training as the right solution to a performance gap. In my area of specialization, better business writing, I often hear that people are doing a poor job of writing something.

Writing About Ourselves

For many of us, it's difficult to write about ourselves without nagging, uncomfortable feelings. Maybe that's because of childhood messages we heard about being modest. I, for one, had an imposing old aunt who announced, whenever I was happily bragging, "Self-praise stinks."