300 Days of Better Writing

February 25, 2014

Punctuate bulleted series as if they were written out in a sentence.


For lists made from a series in a sentence, use this sample as a guide.

These employees are

  • smart,
  • knowledgeable,
  • friendly, and
  • efficient.

If you were to write this out as a sentence, you would have the following: “These employees are smart, knowledgeable, friendly, and efficient.”

When creating a list, you use the same punctuation.

In the sample above, notice

  • the commas after each item,
  • where the “and” goes, and
  • the lack of a colon after “are.”

When the items in the list are complex (i.e., they have their own commas), you can use a semicolon after each list item. Also, you can capitalize each item in the list, but you don’t need to do so because the items would not be capitalized if you were to write this out in sentence format.


This is the strategy for day 7 in 300 Days of Better Writing, available at Hostile Editing in PDF, Kindle, and paperback formats.

For a sample of 300 Days of Better Writing and other books by Precise Edit, download the free ebook.

September 26, 2013

Simplify three common, weak phrases.


Vigorous, direct, and persuasive writing is concise. Here are three common weak phrases and their concise replacements.

in order toto
This is a simple replacement. The sentence “I will use my card in order to buy snacks” becomes “I will use my card to buy snacks.”

there is aa
This will likely require additional revision, but the result will be better. The sentence “I see that there is a dog on the couch” becomes “I see a dog on the couch.”

with/in regards toregards
This changes the verb to regards. The sentence “This letter is in regard to your delinquent account” becomes “This letter regards your delinquent account.”


This is the strategy for day 109 in 300 Days of Better Writing, available at Hostile Editing in PDF, Kindle, and paperback formats.

For a sample of 300 Days of Better Writing and other books by Precise Edit, download the free ebook.

April 5, 2013

Quote books in the present tense and writers in the past tense.


When you take a quote from a book, you have to decide whether you are attributing the quoted material to the author or the book.

If you are attributing a quote to a book, use the present tense. Because the information is always present (i.e., always available right now), use present tense verbs, such as states, notes, claims, and describes. For example, you may write the following:

“The book Ten Habits of Unhappy People claims that the main reason for disappointment is a lack of communication.”

On the other hand, if you are attributing a quote to the author, use the past tense. Because the author wrote the information at a specific time in the past, use a past tense verb, such as stated, noted, claimed, described, and wrote. For example, you may write the following:

“James Patterson, author of Ten Habits of Unhappy People, wrote that the main reason for disappointment is a lack of communication.”


This is the strategy for day 41 in 300 Days of Better Writing, available at Hostile Editing in PDF, Kindle, and paperback formats.

For a sample of 300 Days of Better Writing and other books by Precise Edit, download the free ebook.

February 28, 2013

Thus and therefore statements should follow logically from the previous statements.


The topic here is non sequiturs. Non sequitur is a Latin term meaning does not follow. A non sequitur is a problem with logic; it is a conclusion that isn’t logical, based on previous statements.

A non sequitur looks like this:

Idea A is true.
Idea B is also true.
Thus, Idea C MUST be true.

The fault in this logic is assuming that C is true just because A and B are true. In this case, C might be true, but it certainly isn’t true just because A and B are true. It is a non sequitur.

When you start a sentence with thus or therefore, you are saying that the statement you are about to write is the logical conclusion of the previous statements.

If the thus/therefore statement isn’t true based on the previous statements, you have created a non sequitur. Let’s look at an example.

A: People love to eat beef.
B: Beef comes from cows.
C: Thus, people love cows.

The first two statements in this sample are true. The last statement might also be true, but it is not the logical conclusion of the previous statements. It is a non sequitur.

Here’s the point of this tip: When you start a sentence with thus or therefore, make sure the statement logically follows from the previous statements. If it doesn’t, your reader will reject your ideas.


Free E-book to Improve Your Writing Skills

Top writing strategies and expert instruction from
each of Precise Edit’s writing guides

  • 1 critical article from
    Precise Edit Training Manual
  • 8 days of instruction from
    300 Days of Better Writing
  • 5 top strategies from
    Bang! Writing with Impact
  • 2 essential word choices from Which Word Do I Use?
  • 1 major comma use from Zen Comma
  • 1 section on main verbs from Concise Guide to Technical and Academic Writing

Get the free e-book (PDF) OR

Purchase the Kindle version ($0.99).

Next Page »

The Rubric Theme Blog at WordPress.com.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,391 other followers