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June 2019 – Most businesses need someone to write minutes – can you?

Meeting notes, called minutes, are a record of key issues and decisions taken rather than a word-for-word transcript of what was said. They’re neutral and factual, and written in the past tense.

Taking minutes is a very useful business skill yet it doesn’t seem to be given enough priority.

We have a short three-hour session on how to record minutes. We also offer minute-writing as a service – we attend the meeting and do it all for you.

Writing it like it is,
Bev Hawthorne

Cell: 083 255 8408
Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @grammarbasics
Facebook: facebook.com/writingschool/

March 2019 – 2 OF 10 TOP WRITING TIPS FOR 2019: No place for pompous in Plain Language

Good communicators write to express, not impress. They don’t use fancy words to appear more intelligent, important or grand. They wouldn’t, for example, ask someone to peruse a document when read it through carefully is so much clearer, and they wouldn’t use utilise because it isn’t any better than use.

Have confidence in your writing skills. Don’t fall into the habit of using unnecessarily fancy words and phrases. Picture your audience and use everyday language that’s appropriate for that situation and person/people.

Writing it like it is,
Bev Hawthorne

Cell: 083 255 8408
Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @grammarbasics
Facebook: facebook.com/writingschool/

February 2019 – Say the same old thing in a completely different way.

We’ve all read trite phrases like ‘I trust you are well’ and ‘Your cooperation would be appreciated’ so many times that they’ve lost all meaning. So set a great example for your email recipients by ditching these tired old clichés and switching things up. Start your email with ‘I hope you had a great weekend’ (if you’re writing on a Monday) or ‘I’ll keep this short’ (then do as you promise); and end it by just saying ‘Thanks!’.

Make an effort to stop using stale expressions that you (and everyone else) have been mindlessly writing for years. Be original – say something that suits your personality and ‘speaks’ to that specific person.

Some other phrases that should be dumped forever include:
Herewith enclosed please find…
I am writing to…
I trust the above is in order.

Writing it like it is,
BEV HAWTHORNE

Cell: 083 255 8408
Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @grammarbasics
Facebook: facebook.com/writingschool/

December 2018 - Festive season tip.

November 2018 – Always write for a specific audience

If you want your audience to get it the first time they read it – which is what Plain Language is all about – write using a style, tone and words that ‘speak’ to that specific audience.

Take email, for example:

  • Greet the person as you would face-to-face and say something engaging to connect with them.
  • Example: Good afternoon Professor Gracey
    Thank you for taking the time to meet with me yesterday.
  • Use personal pronouns and contractions to make the writing conversational.
    Example: I’m attaching the first draft of my report for your review.
  • Get straight to the point – put the message in the first paragraph.
  • Keep your sentences short and tight: fewer than 20 words and no more than two thoughts.
  • Don’t clutter your text with unnecessary punctuation, especially commas.
  • Try to say what you need to in three paragraphs.
  • Avoid tired, overused expressions when signing-off – be yourself and be original.
    Example: These are just my ideas. I look forward to your thoughts and suggestions.

Yours in writing it as it is
Bev Hawthorne

Cell: 083 255 8408
Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @grammarbasics
Facebook: facebook.com/writingschool/

October 2018 – A comma shouldn’t join two sentences

When two groups of words stand by themselves as complete sentences, they shouldn’t be joined by a comma.
Example: The report was submitted yesterday, we should have an answer by Friday.

They’re independent clauses and a comma isn’t strong enough to glue them together.

They could either be written as two separate sentences separated by a full stop.
Example: The report was submitted yesterday. We should have an answer by Friday.

Another good option is to insert a conjunction after the comma before the second clause.
Example: The report was submitted yesterday, so we should have an answer by Friday.

Or you could use a semi colon to indicate that the second clause is an elaboration (or further explanation) of the first clause.
Example: The report was submitted yesterday; we should have an answer by Friday.

Yours in writing it as it is
Bev Hawthorne

Cell: 083 255 8408
Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @grammarbasics
Facebook: facebook.com/writingschool/

September 2018 - THE WRITING SCHOOL TIP: Bev Hawthorne - Ts & Cs Apply

Terms and Conditions apply

The shortened form of Terms and Conditions apply is often used in contracts, special offers and competitions.

Plain Language writers keep things simple and easy to read. They also try to avoid unnecessary punctuation.

Don’t make these common mistakesClear communicators write the short form like this: Ts and Cs apply.

Yours in writing it as it is
Bev Hawthorne

Cell: 083 255 8408
Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @grammarbasics
Facebook: facebook.com/writingschool/

August 2018 - THE WRITING SCHOOL TIP: Writing trends have changed

Just as in fashion and food, writing styles follow trends. Business and personal writing have changed dramatically in the last few decades.

Thirty years ago, business-people aimed to impress with long-winded formality but that approach to writing just doesn’t match the fast-paced, time-pressured multimedia world we live and work in now.

Today, we have to be able to communicate our message to our busy audiences wherever they are and on whatever platform they choose to read it.
This means that:

• We must write to express, not impress.
• We must constantly consider our readers so that we get the right results.
• Our writing must be easy to read and understand.
• We must get straight to the point and avoid clutter.
• We must come across as genuine, friendly and polite.

The first step to improving your communication in business is to accept that writing trends have changed. Some things are done differently today (video) from how they were done decades ago.

Yours in writing it as it is
Bev Hawthorne

Cell: 083 255 8408
Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @grammarbasics
Facebook: facebook.com/writingschool/

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