March 2012  
UpWrite Press Writing eTips

Test Your Writing Acumen

Do you know, really know, how to properly use a hyphen? Try out your skill with the following questions. Simply select the correct answer from those given in parentheses.

  1. She is a (well-known, well known) author.
  2. That old adage is quite (well-known, well known).
  3. He is a (class-A, class A) manipulator.
  4. The room was a large, (L-shaped, L shaped) space.
  5. That is one (fully-loaded, fully loaded) vehicle.
  6. We considered the (most-likely, most likely) result of the change.

Answers can be found at the end of this newsletter.

Writing the Fund-Raising Letter

Fund-raising letters are persuasive messages of a delicate nature. Because people are often inundated with pleas for funding, make sure that your request is clear and appealing.

Of course, your appeal will mean nothing if it isn’t read, so grab your reader with an attention-getting opening paragraph. There are several ways to do this.

  • Begin with a startling fact: This winter, dozens of children in our community will be huddled in homes without heat.
  • Share an anecdote: Susie Jones can’t study when she is cold—and she is cold most of the time.
  • Connect with the reader: Thank you for your past support. Please take a moment to match your previous donation, or even surpass it.

Once you have the reader’s attention, go on to explain why a contribution is so critical.

  • Present facts and details: In these tough economic times, families have to cut back on necessaries, sometimes sacrificing heat for food, or vice versa.
  • Create a sense of urgency: This winter promises to be one of the coldest on record, presenting a real danger to the lives of our neighbors who can’t afford heat.
  • Present the benefits of giving: Your tax-deductible donation of $100 or more will ensure that a family’s basic needs are met this winter, and your generosity will be acknowledged in our annual report to the community.

Your closing should include contact information and a thank you to the reader for anticipated generosity. Be sure to make donating as easy as possible, providing a Web site or simply stating who the check should be made out to.

Format your letter so it is easy to read, with plenty of white space, a readable font, and headings or bullet points to guide the reader through the message. Finally, include a P.S. that reiterates the cause, the suggested donation amount, and a deadline, if necessary.

You can find more information about writing persuasive messages beginning on page 123 in Write for Business: A Compact Guide to Writing and Communicating in the Workplace.

Trainer Tips

You know that training is needed at your workplace, but how do you convince management that it would be a worthwhile investment? In this situation, documentation is your best friend. Using specific incidents, dates, and costs, write a plan showing how efficiency, safety, and output can be improved with training. Use well-researched cost estimates to show how such training will improve the company’s bottom line. Offset the cost of the training with estimated productivity increases, and you will have a strong case for funding the training.

That Little Extra

Help your readers navigate your writing by using design tip-offs that will lead them directly to critical information. Use headings, numbers, or bullet points to consolidate ideas, and offer digestible bits of information in short paragraphs. Also consider using boldface or italics for key words or ideas, but don’t overdo it. Remember, your goal is to have your ideas read and understood.


March 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.

Job applications often ask if you are related to someone in that workplace. Do you work with, or have you ever worked with, someone related to you? Was it a positive experience? Do you think relatives should work together? Why or why not? Share your thoughts with us—we promise to change names to protect the writer and keep the family peace.

E-mail your response to Write “March Writers’ Forum” in the subject line, and you could see your reply in the eTips Mid-Month Mini.

Solution to this month’s brainteaser:

  1. She is a (well-known, well known) author. (Hyphenate a two-word, single-thought adjective before a noun.)
  2. That old adage is quite (well-known, well known). (Don’t hyphenate a two-word, single-thought adjective when it follows the noun.)
  3. He is a (class-A, class A) manipulator. (Don’t hyphenate a two-part adjective when the second part is a single letter or number.)
  4. The room was a large, (L-shaped, L shaped) space. (Use a hyphen to join a single letter to another word.)
  5. That is one (fully-loaded, fully loaded) vehicle. (Don’t use a hyphen to join an -ly adverb to an adjective.)
  6. We considered the (most-likely, most likely) result of the change. (Don’t use a hyphen after more or most in a comparative or superlative adjective.)

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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Coming in April

Writing the Credit Application

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