March 2014  
UpWrite Press Writing eTips

Write your first draft with your heart. Rewrite with your head.

—From the movie Finding Forrester

Word Pair of the Month: pore, pour

This month’s sound-alike words have very different meanings to accompany their different spellings. The word pore, when used as a noun, means “a tiny opening,” found in great numbers in our skin:

He felt as though he were absorbing the stench through his pores.

When used as a verb, pore means “to examine closely”:

We will pore over the accounts to find the discrepancy.

The word pour is a verb, meaning “to cause to flow”:

I saw the waiter pour the wine haphazardly, spilling it on the tablecloth.

Used as a noun, pour refers to an instance of the flowing action:

It was a sloppy pour, and the maître d’ apologized profusely for the mess.

Here’s a spelling tip to help you keep the words straight: Remember that pore contains the letters or that begin the word orifice, which means “an opening.”

March Writers’ Forum Question

Have you ever had the experience of a coworker (or a supervisor) constantly sending out letters, memos, blogs, bulletins, or minutes that contain glaring grammatical errors? Even if this has not happened to you, how do you think you’d handle the situation? Share with us and others your ideas for approaching the writer. What help could you offer?

Erin Kelly, a customer representative in Atlanta, found a way to spread a few writing rules around without targeting particular offenders:

Our office produces a lot of written material. So when I noticed errors popping up here and there in our letters, brochures, and Web pages, I was concerned and alerted my superiors. Rather than pinpoint specific workers, I suggested offering some training, and we organized a weekly writing hour. Everyone gathers to discuss writing and to address any errors that may have appeared in any of the week’s documents. Then we talk about how to correct the mistakes and avoid them in the future. This has not only brought our writing to a higher standard, but it’s also become a welcomed break. We are all getting to know one another a little better.

Timothy Walesa, a staffing services recruiter in Chicago, agrees that writing mistakes are not something to ignore:

The written materials we send out reflect our company, and writing errors suggest sloppiness. We have a system of proofreading that places all writing, whether printed or online, in front of at least three people, who read it for errors and consistency.

Bette Johnson, a payroll manager in Portland, Oregon, has been in a communications situation that tested her:

When I was in college, I worked for an excellent manager who, unfortunately, couldn’t write very well. The ideas were often jumbled, the language imprecise, and the writing itself full of errors. I wasn’t sure how to handle the problem, since she was my boss, but I finally asked if I could give her some help with her writing workload, just for the experience. Naturally, I’d always run the changes by her. After reviewing my revisions for the first time, she quickly saw that the message was clearer. She thanked me for my tact and praised my changes. I was just glad that I had helped her . . . and not insulted her.

Pearl Chin, a marketing assistant in Wilmington, Delaware, experienced a similar situation, but it ended differently:

I once had a boss who was a terrible writer, so I made the mistake of simply making changes in his work. When he found out, he was furious and fired me. Later, a friend in the office told me that after I left, this supervisor assigned another employee to proofread and revise his work. I suppose I had embarrassed him. It would have been wise to be straightforward with my boss, so he could recognize the problem in his own way, and be part of the solution.

A Final Thought

We all get down now and then. Next time you’re feeling low, why not revise your résumé? Review the projects and jobs you’re most proud of; then rework the blurbs, if necessary, to be concise and strong. Not only will your résumé benefit, but you’ll get an emotional boost from reviewing the professional things you’ve done (and done well).

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