Archive | Writing Advice

Is appropriate inappropriate here?

Frequently, copy contains words that don’t really need to be there. A great example is “appropriate,” as in sentences such as “once we review the information, we’ll take appropriate action.” That’s because saying “once we review the information, we’ll take action” is every bit as meaningful and effective. Since it says the exact same thing […]

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Are you very unique?

Are you unique? That’s good. Are you very unique? Probably not. No, I’m not suggesting that individuality is a bad thing. In fact, it’s a very good thing. And the word “unique” should be a very good word. Unfortunately, it’s misused so often that it is losing its uniqueness. In simple terms, “unique” means “singular” […]

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Three simple steps to sharper copy

Thanks to a handy tool within Microsoft Word and most other word processors, it’s easy to make your writing tighter and more powerful. That handy tool is the Word Count indicator. And here’s how you can use it to improve your writing: highlight whatever it is that you’re writing, whether that’s a page or a […]

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Even still more goofs and gaffes

Again and again, I see proof of professional reliance on spellcheckers instead of good old proofreading and editing. Case in point: a Northwest Indiana Times article about funding for safety improvements on the South Shore Railroad. The reporter included this bullet point: “Implementation of Positive Train Control, a federally mandated safety system that tracks the precise location […]

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Hoping to catch a stripper?

Strip and stripe are two words that look similar and are pronounced differently. More important, they convey strikingly different meanings. And yet both and their derivatives are constantly being used incorrectly by people who don’t know better. If you see a Facebook post selling a “striped” piece of furniture, it means one of two things. […]

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What’s a feature, and what’s a benefit?

Are there certain things that people don’t know but should, and that drives you to distraction? For me, one of the biggest is the difference between features and benefits. While that distinction has been talked about for years, and successful communications and sales professionals invariably advocate for emphasizing benefits over features, there continues to be a […]

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