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12 Most Common Writing Hacks for Effective Communication at Work

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Effective writing skills can save time for your readers in understanding, reduce misinterpretations, and drive the end result you wish to achieve. Use these hacks to boost your productivity at work!

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12 Most Common Writing Hacks for Effective Communication at Work

  1. 1. #1. It’s vs. Its Sources: •  “12 most unforgivable writing mistakes” by Jacqui MacKenzie (Ragan) •  “7 Awkward (But Common) Grammar Mistakes” by Lisa Toner (HubSpot) •  “11 Infographics That Will Help You Improve Your Grammar and Spelling” by Aleksandra Todorova ( •  “10 Functions of the Comma” by Mark Nichol (Daily Writing Tips) •  “Rules for Capitalization in Titles” by Carla Lowe (Daily Writing Tips) © 2014 Designed and created by NBOGroup Ltd. All rights reserved. MOST COMMON For Effective Communication at Work Writing Hacks 12 It’s = a contraction of “it is” or “it has” Its = a possessive pronoun indicating an object belonging to something #2. Affect vs. Effect Affect = verb meaning “to influence” Effect = noun referring to the outcome or result #3. Then vs. Than Then = used to indicate sequence Than = used when making comparisons #11. Commas (8 uses) 1. Separate elements in a series: “Our growth is affected by the market size, competition, the economy, and product differentiation.” Q: Do we need a comma before the last element? “…economy, and product differentiation.” This is called an “Oxford comma.” A: It’s up to you. But… Sometimes, not using the Oxford comma can cause ambiguities, especially in longer, more complex sentences. Whether you choose to use the Oxford comma or omit it, make sure you stay consistent throughout the same piece of writing. 2. Separate independent clauses: An independent clause is a sentence that can stand on its own. “I like the Marx Brothers, but she thinks they’re too silly.” If the second part of the sentence makes a complete sentence on its own, add a comma. If it doesn’t, leave it out. 3. Separate introductory word or phrases: “Last month, we had a 15% increase in revenue.” 4. Separate an optional parenthetical element: “We have, in a manner of speaking, won despite our loss.” Use ‘–’ em dashes, instead of commas, to emphasize the interruption of the statement. Use ‘( )’ parentheses to diminish the optional element as an aside. 5. Separate coordinate adjectives: Coordinate adjectives are adjectives that parallel each other in modifying a noun. “Ivan shared a brilliant, innovative idea at the team meeting this morning.” 6. In letters and emails: “Dear Team,” “Sincerely,” Use a colon in a formal salutation. 7. In numbers: “$10,000,000” 8. In dates: “January 1, 2015” #4. A lot vs. Alot “We received a lot of feedback from the team on the new process.” Alot is not a word! #5. Lose vs. Loose Lose = verb (past tense: lost) Loose = adjective referring to something that doesn’t fit or isn’t secure #6. Fewer vs. Less Fewer = use with countable nouns Less = use with uncountable nouns #7. Farther vs. Further Farther = used to indicate distance or length Further = used to indicate more of something, as in furthermore #8. Principal vs. Principle Principal = noun: highest in rank or the main participant; adjective: the most important of a set Principle = noun referring to a fundamental truth, law or standard #9. i.e. vs. e.g. i.e. = id est, latin term which means “that is” or “in other words” e.g. = exempli gratia, latin term which means “for example” #12. Title Capitalization Capitalize: •  First and last word in a title •  All nouns, pronouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, and subordinating conjunctions (as, because, although) Lowercase: •  “to” as part of an infinitive •  All articles (a, the), prepositions (to, at, in, with), and coordinating conjunctions (and, but, or) #10. Hyphens Never use hyphens for: •  Fractions, used as nouns •  Verb and preposition combinations (“look out”) •  Between adverbs, ending in “-ly” and adjectives (“beautifully crafted”) Use hyphens for: •  Prefixes (“ex-”, “self-”, “all-”) •  Avoid confusion (“re-lay” vs. “relay”) Beware of arbitrary capitalization! “You can sit in the Best Cubicle with a View today.” Looking for a writing course for your organization? Ask us about our “Write with Impact” program!