Tag Archives: writing rules

Write Now: Simple Writing Dos and Don’ts

write nowNote: If you already have a main idea / topic for writing and simply need help getting started, skip to the last section: Do: GET STARTED NOW.

Do start with a purpose and stay focused on your topic!
Ask yourself: “What do I want my reader to learn and/or feel after reading my article?”
Write out your message as clearly and completely as you can right away. This does not have to begin your paper or article, but it will help you remain on topic.

Don’t use repetition.
It is a poor habit of many writers and good bloggers to repeat themselves. Remember to get an editors input on repeating thoughts. Even if you acknowledge it with ‘in other words’ repetition is often a waste of time for your audience. (I battle this habit myself.)

Do include proof or facts that support your message.
Have at least one or two supporting outside sources that prove your stance. If you need a little “fluff” you can add one or two facts that disprove another person’s argument. It’s completely acceptable to disagree with others, but it would be wise to get someone else’s opinion on whether you come across in earnest or just argumentative.

Don’t jump back and forth presenting both sides of an argument.
There is nothing more daunting than reading an article from an undecided author. While it is important to show both sides of an argument, it is more important (as the writer) to solidify your own firm stance for your readers.

Do use paragraphs to separate different views of an argument.
If you have sufficient details to support two or more different sides of an issue you should put each standpoint into its own separate paragraph. Check out Paragraph Dos and Don’ts for more on this.

Don’t let paragraphs get too long.
Paragraphs that take up a half or a whole page could probably be broken down into three or four paragraphs. You could even use headers, bullet points, graphs or even pictures to replace many globs of words! :)

You may have come across this article because you were searching for the right rules and formats to get your message across to your reader as optimally as possible.

I am going to share some of the best advice I have ever gotten as far as writing. It was a time when I was to write a paper for a college class and I had unfortunately waited until the last minute to even begin. I called up a ADD coach I happened to be working for: Frank Coppola who still does coaching at ADDingPerspective.com.

I told him it was very important I started and finished it right away, but I had some sort of writer’s block. And he said these very simple golden words that I absolutely needed to hear.

“First” he said, “say what you’re going to say and then simply build on it from there.”

Then I realized I was making it too complicated. even though I technically knew what I wanted to say I was waiting for the perfect words. <- And that hidden habit of trying to make my first draft as perfect as possible was the reason I kept procrastinating. I had always felt it was a waste of time to write a second draft.

That's the beauty of writing on a computer, we no longer need to re-write anything. It isn't like we are writing with pen and paper and white-out anymore. The first, second, and final drafts are all on the computer screen now. We can copy and paste and rearrange our words so much easier now than we could in grade school when we were learning about the "process of writing".

So go ahead: Just say what you're going to say.

One Last Tip: For marketing or persuasive writing you may want to buy or borrow Hypnotic Writing by Joe Vitale.

3 Must-Haves That Make Business Email & Blog Posts More Readable

Are you ready to broaden your audience and save yourself the tedium of repeating info you’ve previously sent in an email?

Here are the three format rules you must follow to improve the value of your writing:

    1. strategically place bold print
    2. section off larger messages/posts with headers
    3. put key points into bullet points and numbered lists

*See bottom of this post for link to learn more about bullet points.

Save the Client’s Time on Project Updates

I have a long-standing client who used to call me up and she would never fail to ask questions that I had answered in a recent email. At first I thought she was just forgetful because she has so much going on in her business. After working with her for a few months I knew that the “forgetful” theory was not true. She is an amazing business woman and she has an great memory. One day I asked her about it and she said to me:

“Amber, you have been making so many wonderful improvements for my business, but I don’t really understand half of what you are talking about in your project updates. I just skim them for highlights and then prepare to be amazed by your results.”

See how she did that? With a bit of criticism followed by a great compliment she gave me some vital e-business advice.

All informative writing must be skim-able.

Clearly Separate the “Good Stuff”

The good stuff is the part of your message that the reader needs to hear the most and see first while skimming it.

Let’s face it: EVERYONE SKIMS. We have to skim. Can you image trying to read every single document, email, posted message, or terms of usage agreement thrown at you? If you actually read every privacy agreement and terms of usage policy for every piece of software or electronic device you ever used then you wouldn’t have a chance to use it until it was obsolete!

Streamline your communication.

skim emailsMaking documents skim-able or scan-able is very easy with bullet points and section headers. (If we can learn to write volumes within a 140 character limit, we can learn anything in communication!)

Be careful not to overuse bold print. That might have been the toughest one for me to work on.

The number one reason for hiring a virtual assistant is to save the clients’ time. It doesn’t matter if it’s for tedious work or work that requires a special skill set we must make time saving a top priority.

So remember! Paragraphs are dead. Long live bullet points, strategically bolded print, and clear sectioned headers for all informative writing.

Side note for bullet points: Check out How to Write Powerful Bullet Points if you are not familiar with using them. Follow their advice, it’s all very good.

Beautifully Unedited Tangle of Words

This is probably the most random of my posts in quite a while. However, I always post about subjects that have dominated my thoughts or attention throughout the previous week. And I must say that I have never really noticed so much as I have this week how it is such a cursed blessing to be a writer. Sometimes the words flow so easily from my fingertips without much effort at all and other times it is agony to find the words to communicate my points effectively .

Because I usually write about professional and informational subjects, I confess that too often I find myself re-editing my work until there is hardly a trace of my true style left in the finished product. But today, I’m not going to do that. The reason is because my target audience for this post is those aspiring and passionate writers who settle in a career as professional bloggers, content, and press release writers like myself. You are the only ones who will actually get what I am talking about.

Every single piece of written material we produce is limited to the confinements of etiquette and the educational limitations of our target audience. It has to be. And yet I cannot help but wonder if the unwritten (or maybe they are written somewhere) rules cause too many of us to lose out on really reaching our audience in an impactful way.

I love to write about my work and about world issues… and yes, even the often perceived as less significant home life. I love to play devil’s advocate and shine light on a completely different angles of my subject at hand. All my life, writing has been both the thorn in my side and my faithful crutch I’ve used to try to make sense of the world.

The ridiculous myth that disables some writers:
Real writers who really give value to the world are those who do not surrender to the myth that nothing is original. Some actually give up on writing because they hear and actually believe this. I refuse to accept that.

It is such an absurd contradiction of the daily growth in languages all around the world. New words are added to the dictionary all the time. New phrases are getting perpetually rehashed in every high school or office building anywhere. New songs are written everyday.

What if Shakespeare has decided this was true? If he had, then we wouldn’t have the 1600 or 1700 beautiful words he contributed to the English language. Words like: amazement, compromise, dwindle, submerge, and torture are all words that were first recorded in his plays. There are many more… see: Words Shakespeare Invented

I have piles of notebooks and hundred of scrap pieces of paper with statements that compelled me to record and appreciate, resonate, or incorporate in our later work. (Again only a writer would understand what I mean.)

We servants of diction are forced to take mental notes and sometimes repost the most enlightening or meaningful of them on Facebook and Twitter. – On a side note… so many beautiful, powerful, and motivational things can be said in 140 characters or less.

I have promised myself to go ahead and bravely use more of our precious vocabulary in more of my writing from now on. I assure you I will probably not write quite this dramatically on a regular basis, but it truly feels refreshing to not edit myself… this time.

Paragraph Dos and Don’ts

A Paragraph is a distinct portion of written dealing with a particular idea, usually beginning with an indented first line.

1. Do have a topic sentence.
A topic sentence is the sentence that “sums up” what your paragraph be about. Make sure that each topic sentence supports the main idea of the entire essay or article. RARE EXCEPTIONS: Paragraphs that describe, narrate, or detail the steps in an experiment do not usually need topic sentences.

2. Don’t include excessive, irrelevant details.
Focus on your main purpose for writing. Too many details dilute your message. Period.

3. Do include enough detail sentences to support your topic sentence.
Have at least one or two supporting detail sentences. Each paragraph should be three or more sentences long. Warning: Too many details will dilute your message.

4. Don’t include unverified content.
Even one inaccurate detail can discredit your writing. If you don’t know for absolute certain a statement is true, say so even before you write it.

5. Do use paragraphs to separate different views of an argument.
If you have sufficient details to support two or more different sides of an issue you should put each standpoint into its own separate paragraph.

6. Don’t present both sides of an argument in one paragraph.
Reading an article from an undecided author can be daunting. It is often important to show both sides of an argument. Unless you have no supporting details for each argument you present, separate each point of view in separate paragraphs.

7. Do keep the paragraphs in your article around the same size.
This is merely an esthetic preference for most readers. It can be difficult to achieve, but it’s worth it to make it easier on the readers eyes.

8. Don’t let paragraphs get too long.
Paragraphs taking up half or even whole pages can and should be broken down into at least three or even four paragraphs whenever possible.

Rules for Writing Paragraphs – References:

Driscoll, D. L., Brizee, A. (2010, January 8 ).  Paragraphs and
. Retrieved April 6, 2010 from Purdue University at
Lafayette, OWL Web site:

(n.d.).  Paragraph Development and Topic Sentences. Retrieved
April 6, 2010 from Capital Community College Foundation Web site:

Turner, D. ().  Dividing your Argument. Retrieved  from
University of Ottowa Canada, Writing Centre Web site:

5 Words We Forget How to Use Correctly

Less – should not be used in place of fewer. Fewer should be used when you know the exact numbers of the things you are comparing. Fewer is countable e.g. fewer problems, fewer people going there this week. Less should be used when you are dealing with abstract numbers. Less isn’t countable e.g. less rain, less money, less stress.

Literally – often incorrectly used in support of exaggeration or violent metaphor

Most – not to be used in place of almost

Thank you in advance – this is rude, don’t use it.

Whom If the answer to the question is he, then ask who.
Who did this? He did.

If the answer to the question is him, then ask whom.
To whom does it belong? It belongs to him.

- class notes