August 2009
Writing eTips UpWrite Press

Is Poorly Written E-Mail Costing You?

Everyone knows that poorly written e-mail can hurt your bottom line when it loses you a customer. But how about the hidden cost of confusing e-mails within your own business? Fast Company reported that Capital One gained 11 days of productivity per employee per year with an e-mail writing course. Our online calculator reveals how much your company could save from such training.


July Winner in Our Monthly Facebook Drawing

Congratulations to "Business Writing with UpWrite Press" Facebook fan Rae Gillen! She's the July winner of a free copy of Write for Business: A Compact Guide to Writing & Communicating in the Workplace and the emPOWERED Business Writing Job Aide.

You could be our next winner. We're giving away a book and a Job Aide each month. To qualify, just become a Facebook fan of "Business Writing with UpWrite Press" ( and RSVP to our event invitation each month.


Using Graphics in Your Documents

Graphic representations, especially graphs and charts, can be an important part of your business documents, visually depicting your ideas and clarifying your points. But if these graphics are used improperly, they can also overwhelm or confuse your writing. Here are a few tips for effectively using graphics in your written documents.

  • Don't overdo it. Use charts and graphs judiciously—too many of them can supercede the text and cloud your message.
  • Simplify. Use each graph or chart to explain one main point and its supporting data. Crowding a graph with extraneous information will confuse the reader.
  • Carefully label your graphs. Be sure the purpose of each column or line is clear.
  • Present ideas in the most logical manner. Use appropriate patterns of organization, arranging items by category, time, place, or alphabetical order.
  • Smoothly integrate each graphic into the page. Refer to it within the text and then position the diagram, chart, or graph as close as possible to that reference.
  • Frame graphics effectively. Use white space around and within charts and graphs to improve their readability.
  • Include a title and, if necessary, a caption. These will guide the reader and relate the graphic to the text.

There are several styles of graphs and charts to choose from, so select the one that works best for your information. Tables are used to present exact figures or to arrange ideas into groups or categories. Line graphs can show changes over time, while bar graphs offer clear comparisons, and pie graphs show proportions. We'll explore each of these in more depth in future eTips.

You can learn more about using graphics in your documents beginning on page 161 in Write for Business: A Compact Guide to Writing & Communicating in the Workplace, just one of the handy business writing materials from UpWrite Press.

Our Staff Writers' Blog

Get the latest insights into writing from our staff writers. In July, Dave Kemper discussed "Learning from a Master," Joyce Lee explained "Common Writing Errors, Part I - Double Trouble: Avoiding Nonstandard Constructions" and "Common Writing Errors, Part II - Agreement," and Lester Smith wrote that "Even Experienced Writers Use Help." In addition, our "Using the Right Word" series covered eight commonly misused word sets:

Visit our blog for these and other great articles!

That Little Extra:

We've talked in the past about backing up your work on portable flash drives, but here are a couple of other ways to avoid losing your work. If you have a vital document, consider e-mailing it to yourself. You can also copy your files onto CD's and store them off-site in a secure place, such as a safety deposit box—a good choice for extremely sensitive files. Finally, consider using an online storage site. There are free sites available, as well as pay sites with greater storage capability.


August Writers' Forum Topic

Here's your chance to tell us how your work environment operates. Send us your responses to the forum question below, and we'll print the most interesting in our eTips Mid-Month Mini. Use your best writing skills: we reserve the right to edit for content and language.

What daily distractions do you encounter in your workplace? Are they environmental or personal? Are some days worse than others? Which of these distractions are most bothersome, and how do you deal with them?

E-mail your response to Write "August Writers' Forum" in the subject line, and you could see your reply in the eTips Mid-Month Mini.

We Want to Hear from You

This is your chance to be part of the UpWrite Press newsletters and blogs. What writing topics do you want to hear about? Have you any favorite communications tips you'd like to share? What words do you constantly mix up? Send us your ideas and you could see your name in Writing eTips or the Mid-Month Mini.

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Check out our Weblog. Each entry offers a quick way to shape or firm your writing. Think of it as calisthenics for your mind!

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Coming in September

Creating Effective Tables

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eTips is a publication of UpWrite Press, P.O. Box 460, Burlington, Wisconsin 53105. Copyright © 2009,
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