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Lynn Gaertner-Johnston
I'm Lynn Gaertner-Johnston, founder of Syntax Training in Seattle, Washington, and a fan of business writing.
Recent Activity
Tash, that's an interesting question. Either could be correct, depending on the circumstances. Your first choice--A Mrs. Smith from the office called--is correct if you are using the expression "A Mrs. Smith" as in "someone named Mrs. Smith." That's probably your intended meaning. However, your second choice--A, Mrs. Smith from the office called--is correct if you are writing to someone who goes by the name "A." The purpose of the comma would be direct address, that is, you are directly addressing the reader. I hope that helps. Lynn
Dinah, I'm happy to have surprised you! Lynn
Toggle Commented 3 days ago on A Large Amount of Mistakes at Business Writing
Hi Larry, Thank you for the compliment. I like the grandma suggestion. I would not take it too far though because the audience for the executive summary may be experts. Rather than simplicity, the key may be a focus on the essential point or points. Lynn
Hi Larry, Yes, "things" is a good word to avoid. It reminds me of "this." Thanks for stopping by and commenting. Lynn
Hi Abby, My educated guess is Mxes. That's what I would use as a plural, similar to Mses. However, I have not researched this question. "Honorarium" is a payment. I believe you intended to use "honorific." Lynn
Elena, Debby, Walker, and Peter (D)--thanks for taking the time to comment. Debby, you may be right that "they thought there are so many that they can't be counted anymore!" The author of the article also got Number 4 above wrong, which is about websites. Walker, yes, you have the idea. Peter, I'm glad you now know about the error. The word "also" would not have tripped you up in context. Lynn
Toggle Commented Feb 13, 2019 on A Large Amount of Mistakes at Business Writing
Emre, you are welcome. Thank you for your thoughtful message. Lynn
Toggle Commented Feb 13, 2019 on A Large Amount of Mistakes at Business Writing
Billie, thank you for your kind words! I hope you do take the course. Lynn
Hi Bart, I am guessing they don't know the words. Thanks for your wit. Lynn
Kim, thank you so much for your positive words. I am very glad you recommend the course. Lynn
Hi Alfred, Interesting question. I intentionally used "your taking" to focus on the time Laura took. I could have used "you taking" (your Number 3) to emphasize Laura herself taking the time. Both are correct; the difference between them is subtle, and many people are not aware of it. In your examples, "taking of time" (Number 1) is very awkward and therefore not appropriate. "Time taken" (Number 2) is unusual--not wrong, just unexpected. In Number 4 the structure "kindness to share them" is odd, but you could confidently write "kindness in sharing them." I did not research the structures you used in Numbers 1, 2, and 4. I am simply describing the way they sound to my North American ear. Lynn
Toggle Commented Feb 11, 2019 on Acronyms and SMEs--Help! at Business Writing
Laura, thank you for your excellent examples. I appreciate your taking the time to share them. Your situation has several parallels to Tim's. I hope he finds nuggets in your comment that he can use in his work. Lynn
Toggle Commented Feb 8, 2019 on Acronyms and SMEs--Help! at Business Writing
Thank you, KL, Lisa, George, Chanaka, Roberto, Kristyna, Cathy, and M for your comments. I'm sure Tim will enjoy your commiserating with him. Most of you suggested that he spell out every acronym or abbreviation the first time, thus following the well-known writing rule. I tend to agree. Yet Tim suggests that his may be a group for whom "spelling out an acronym makes a presentation less, not more legible." I think that concern is worth addressing. We must keep our audience in mind. I like two of Tim's solutions. First, it's a great idea to have a list of acronyms and their spelled-out versions at the end of the document (or the beginning, as George suggested). If the list is in an appendix, it must be easy to flip or click to. I love the idea of inserting screen tips that one can access by hovering over the acronyms. A reader who needs clarification of the acronym need only place the mouse over it. Of course, that approach only works if people are reading the document on a screen. But an appendix could meet the needs of those who read a printed copy. Regarding my use of "SMEs" in the title, that was intentional. The title needed help, right? Chanaka, one recommended way of spelling out acronyms is to place the spelled-out version after the acronym--especially when people know the acronym better than the spelled-out version. Example: Lisa's LED (light-emitting diode). Thanks for taking the time to comment! Lynn
Toggle Commented Feb 6, 2019 on Acronyms and SMEs--Help! at Business Writing
Hi Cathy, Nice to hear from you! The pervasiveness of jargon is amazing, isn't it? I've been in learning and development (formerly training) for many years. But I hadn't a clue when I first heard people in human resources talking knowingly about "leaving ADDIE for SAM." Hmm--another term thrown around with the assumption that everyone is in the know. Thanks for stopping by. Lynn
Bindu, please give me the entire sentence so that I will know how you are using "may." Lynn
Hi Carl, Let's not put our guest expert on the spot to comment on well-known marketing gurus. Instead, I suggest subscribing to Marcia's "Marketing Minute" and checking out her website. Those actions will fill you in on her beliefs and opinions. Lynn
Marcia, thank you for responding to Cecilia's comment. I agree with you. I experience the frustration of jargon often in my business, even when I am the ideal customer. I am satisfied when a company uses jargon but teaches me what it means immediately in the same communication. Then I feel educated. However, I never do research on my own to figure out what a marketer is trying to say. If they don't communicate clearly when they are selling, how would they communicate after I purchased their product or service? Cecilia, if you have marketing research to support your point, I would love to know about it. I am writing from my own experience. Marcia is writing from her marketing expertise. If you have research we should consider, please share it. Lynn
Here's my 88-word, 4-sentence version, which I completed before reading the excellent versions above: There was no love lost between Payá and the Cuban government. But he articulated some criticisms of the regime that were shared within respected state institutions. And he did so without appearing to be as much a tool or creation of outside actors as other dissident initiatives. The regime’s decision to allow the Varela Project to survive, even in a very low-key way, may have foreshadowed the public’s eagerness for and the government’s capacity to manage a wider public debate about the revolution’s future, without risking counterrevolutionary upheaval. Yes, I kept one 41-word sentence. I felt readers could handle it at the end of the paragraph. As editors on the job, we normally need to retain the writer's voice. Before we start work, we need to determine whether we are doing light editing, major editing, or a complete rewrite. I am grateful for the examples above. Each one helped me see opportunities for improving the paragraph. Thank you, Kumar, Yvon, and Nicki. Lynn
Nicki, great work! You have rewritten the passage so that is is concise and easy to read. You have made excellent choices in what you deleted, cutting the paragraph by more than a third! If I were your editor, I would be tempted to add a couple of words to make sure the piece is completely clear. First, I would retain the phrase "that were" in the opening sentence. My reasoning is that "criticisms of the regime shared within respected state institutions" makes me ask for a second "Are the criticisms shared or is the regime shared?" I will understand if you reject that suggestion. But "criticisms of the regime that were shared within respected state institutions" is instantly clear to me. I would also add the word "decision" after "this" in your phrase "This may have foreshadowed." I believe stipulating what "this" is always makes writing clearer for readers. Thank you for your excellent version. Lynn
Yvon, your revision is superb. You have turned the leaden content into something clear and enjoyable to read. I don't know what you do for a job, but this short exercise would be a terrific example of your editing skills if you were interviewing for an editorial position. Thank you for posting your work. Lynn
Kumar, nice work! I don't want to give it a numerical rating, but you have done an excellent job of simplifying and breaking up the content. You repackaged one long, complicated sentence into five crisp ones. There's one change I suggest: In the sentence "The regime’s decision could also have been driven by an attempt to foreshadow," I don't believe it's accurate to say that the regime was attempting to foreshadow. Foreshadowing is something that occurs; no one controls it. It is not recognizable until after events take place that show something was indeed foreshadowed. Thanks for your 10-minute effort! Lynn
Sorry, Veronique. I don't have an idea for locating those errors. Sometimes they simply appear. Lynn
Hi D, That's an interesting dilemma. My first approach would be to do internet research on the Kenyons to see what I could learn. With no additional clues, I would use "Dear Kenyons." I apologize for overlooking your question back in December. I hope you came up with a workable solution. Lynn
Hi Jane, If I could easily determine the individual's primary professional title, I would use that. Otherwise, I would contact the individual's office and ask for advice. Lynn
Elizabeth, that's an interesting question. I would suggest that your standard be to use the name the individual provides. One woman may be Lynn A. Roberts, and another may be Lynn Ann Roberts--NOT Lynn A. Roberts. Also, I don't think dropping middle initials would make sense. There may be many Juan Martinezes or Tom Joneses in your database, and retaining the middle initial would be important. If I missed the point of your question, please let me know. Lynn