Prepositions, Verbs and Meaning

I was momentarily tripped up yesterday while reading this excellent piece in the Los Angeles Times about how Mideast reform activists are trying to use social networks as organizing tools. Does this line confuse you, too? OR IS IT JUST ME? Egyptian activists, for example, have called for rallies and strikes on Internet social networks … Continue reading

Time Notes

A trio of tips about time to get you over the hump: You don’t need :00 for a top-of-the-hour time (4 p.m. instead of 4:00 p.m.). When noting a time range that occurs wholly within a.m. or p.m., you need that designation only once (1 to 4 p.m. instead of 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.). … Continue reading

Meaning Matters

Write with exactness; write exactly what you mean to convey. As I’ve noted before, the rules of communication are more lax when you’re speaking. But your reader only has the words on the screen. There are no other signals to give added context. With that in mind, drive out all ambiguity from your writing. THINK … Continue reading

Clarity Trumps Conciseness

Don’t let conciseness get in the way of clarity. Often, a neat trick to pare down a sentence is to take a descriptive clause, turn it into a tidy little modifier, and tuck it in front of a noun. Say what? LOOSE: The company, which is based in Roanoke, was founded in 1978. TIGHT: The … Continue reading

Writing Is Not Speaking

When you have a verbal conversation, context and body language fill in the gaps created by the more lax style of communication. Not so in writing. Clarity is muddied when the contractions and omissions of speech are translated to the page. TOO INFORMAL FOR MY LIKING: Baker Frank Goldberg’s making croissants that have the whole … Continue reading