July 2009
Writing eTips UpWrite Press

Last Chance for 10% Savings!

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Our summer promotion will end on July 31st. Now is the time to get 10% savings on products like these:

  • Write for Business: This clear and easy desktop reference for business writing includes strategies, models, grammar and spelling lists, as well as a bonus CD containing the entire book in PDF form!
  • The WRITE Program Training Kits: The Trainee Kits contain a copy of Write for Business, a 74-page presentation book with strategies and activities, a matching Job Aide (emPOWERED Business Writing or emPOWERED E-Mail Writing), and an online writing pretest and posttest. The Trainer’s Kit contains all of the above, plus answers to the activities, access to online test results, and a customizable PowerPoint presentation.
  • Write for the Job: For job seekers, this 17-page, printable PDF employs the seven traits of good business writing to help you create a great résumé and cover letter and prepare for interviews.

To take advantage of this limited-time 10% discount offer, visit www.UpWritePress.com/store and use discount code cnfuwp.

“In baseball you get only three swings and you’re out. In rewriting, you get almost as many swings as you want, and you know, sooner or later, you’ll hit the ball.”

—Neil Simon

Word Pair of the Month: than, then

This is perhaps the most misused pair around. What a difference one little vowel can make! Here are some tips to help you use these deceptively similar words correctly.

Than is a conjunction or a preposition, indicating a comparison. It has the “a” in it, so think to yourself, A is better than E, and you’ll always remember to use it in the right way.

As for then, just remember that it’s usually an adverb referring to time. If you need a helpful clue, just remember this little rhyme: When? Then.

Easy enough. Remember these clues, and then you’ll be an accurate writer more often than you were before.

Win with Facebook!

Every month, UpWrite Press holds a drawing among our fans on Facebook. The monthly prize includes a copy of Write for Business and an emPOWERED Business Writing Job Aide. So log in to your Facebook account, become a fan of UpWrite Press, and RSVP to our July drawing event today!

July Writers’ Forum Topic

Television and movies have shown us work situations in which the coworkers become families, sharing more of their lives than just their workday. What is your work situation like? Do you and your coworkers all hang out together after work or show up on one another’s doorstep to share good or bad news? Do you interact at all, or even know each other on a more personal level? Let us know how important your office colleagues are in your life.

We know that TV and movies may exaggerate the coworker bond, but a large number of our readers wrote to say that their work communities were a vital part of their lives.

For example, Nikka Hanreddy, an accountant in Chicago, writes this.

I am so lucky—not only to be doing a job I love, but to be doing it with the best people in the world. We have a small office, and most of us see each other socially as well as at work. When my daughter got married last year, every one of my office mates was there—some of them are closer to me than my own family! I credit this closeness to the firm’s partners, who encourage us to talk and get together, and who set an example by being there in the trenches with us. If we are working late—especially during tax season—you can bet the bosses will be sitting next to us, plugging away. And they are just as likely to be at the pub downstairs with us after work, unwinding, commiserating, and laughing. If you gotta work, this is the only way to do it!

Thomas White of Queens, New York, also appreciates a friendly office, although he admits there are limits.

Everyone in my office gets along great. Lots of times we’ll go out to lunch as a group, or we might meet after work. Sometimes we’re even guests in each other’s homes. But we all have our own groups of friends outside the office. Most days, I just want to go home and forget about the office—sometimes I even want to forget about the people there, and that’s okay, too.

Of course, not everyone has that wonderful, friendly work environment. Angelita Marquez, a medical records clerk in San Diego sends this reality check.

I do my job and I enjoy doing it, but that doesn’t mean I have to bond with everyone in my office. It’s a big place, and I have a couple of people there to eat lunch or maybe gossip a little with, but I’m there to work, not socialize. When I leave the building, I set my thoughts on other things. TV is set up to make us care about the characters, but the work situation where everyone is so close is just not real or practical.

Finally, we hit the opposite end of the spectrum. Gordon Littlejohn, a media engineer in Houston, formed his opinion of office socialization the hard way.

One of the first places I worked was a small radio station in Georgia. Everyone was friendly and chatty, and I was new to the town, so I latched onto my coworkers, making them my best friends. Boy, that was a mistake! I ended up saying things about the boss I shouldn’t have, all in the spirit of camaraderie. Well, you guessed it—it got back to him, and I was out on my ear. Since then, I am friendly enough to my coworkers, but you can bet I keep it all professional. I don’t consider them my “best buds,” and I DEFINITELY don’t confide personal thoughts or opinions to them!

June Writer’s Forum Question

We also received an additional response to last month’s topic regarding the use of writing in your work environment, and how writing tasks are managed. Linda Barolet, a Support Specialist for SunTrust Banks, offered this story.

I started working at a bank in 1998, as a recently divorced woman with six children, all under the age of thirteen. I had not worked outside the home for the fifteen years I was married. After my divorce and a brief $5.00/hour job at a daycare center, I realized I would not be able to provide for my household of seven on those wages.

Shortly thereafter, a friend and employee at SunTrust Banks encouraged me to apply for a job there. My business skills were, without a doubt, “behind the times”! The last time I had typed a letter for anyone was on a manual typewriter in college.

Due to my desperate financial situation, I moved forward and applied for a job at the bank. As I approached the offices in downtown Florida, I realized I was facing something much bigger than that high-rise building looming on the horizon. . . . I faced a whole new world that I wasn’t familiar with at all, the corporate business world.

Miracle of miracles . . . they hired me!

The management I worked for began to realize, within a short amount of time, that I lacked office-administration skills. My inexperience was becoming an obstacle, preventing me from being efficient in my duties. As soon as they became aware of the problem, they offered me a beginner computer class during work time, paid for by the department.

My coworkers were (and continue to be) patient, encouraging, and understanding while I became more efficient and effective as an employee. The department embraced me, not only as an entry-level (hmmm, very entry-level!) employee but as a person who needed a great deal of assistance in adjusting to the business world. My managers have been patient yet firm, understanding, and encouraging. Many of my fellow employees have become friends, as well as sources of knowledge and expertise.

I am truly thankful to the department I work in for viewing me not only as an employee but also as a person with the potential for becoming a professional, given enough encouragement. It has been a great environment to work in!

Thank you for the inspiring message, Linda. (And for the kind words in your e-mail, about the usefulness of our eTips articles.)

A Final Thought

It’s hard sometimes to work indoors while summer tantalizes, calling us out to the sunshine. Still, you can sneak in a little extra “outside” every day. If possible, ride your bike or walk to work—many commuter trains allow you to bring bikes aboard as well. You can get off at an earlier stop and bike or at least walk the rest of the way. Eat your lunch outside—big cities have benches, fountains, parks, and even rooftops that are better lunchrooms than the basement of your building. If you have a window, open it, just for a moment, and take a deep breath. Get ten minutes of sunshine on your face a day and see the difference it makes in your attitude. Enjoy!

Our Staff Writers’ Blog

Get the latest insights into writing from our staff writers. So far this month, Dave Kemper has written “Learning from a Master,” and Joyce Lee has explained “Common Writing Errors, Part I—Double Trouble: Avoiding Nonstandard Constructions” and “Common Writing Errors, Part II—Agreement.” In addition, our “Using the Right Word” series has covered four commonly misused word sets:

Visit our blog for these and other great articles!

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Using Graphics in Your Documents

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