The Structure of Paragraphs

Proper, effective paragraphs should have a structure. This gives clear, confident direction to the reader and presents a logical flow to the material. The three main components of a paragraph are the topic sentence, supporting details and a closing sentence. (i) The topic sentence introduces the main idea of the paragraph. You should spend time developing three or four key topic sentences in a business letter. These can become the basis for your response or explanation to an external source. Ask yourself: What points do I want to make in this business letter? What exact messages do I … [Read more...]

Don’t do the Run-Around: Avoid Run-On Sentences

Run-on sentences represent a significant problem in business writing today. The examples of improperly constructed sentences can be obvious (often referred to as “spliced” or “fused” structures) or subtle (typically involving lengthy complex-compound sentences that should be broken down). The fused sentence contains no internal punctuation, such as commas or semicolons. The splice, in which two or more sentences are joined by a comma, is another form of run-on sentence. The complex run-on sentence contains too much information and too many supporting clauses. The result is confusion for … [Read more...]

Go With The Flow

How to Edit for Structure, Flow and Readability You’ve chopped through writer’s block; you now have your first draft ready. Great. It’s time to bring out the ruthless editor. Don’t assume what you’ve written is final just because it appears on the screen. Take a critical look at issues such as excessive wordiness, passive verb style, repetitive sentence structures, dense paragraphs and improper grammar/spelling. Take this opportunity to reorganize ideas, sentences and paragraphs to improve flow and readability. Here are some parameters of powerful writing to check against your … [Read more...]

How Do You E-Mail?

I sometimes come across e-mail messages that seem discourteous. I often know the people sending these missives – they don’t strike me as impolite. Yet their e-mails send a certain vibe: “I communicate like a robot, not a human.” There is no greeting, such as “Hi, Craig,” or salutation, like “Regards” or, to get crazy, “Thank you.” Instead, the message is abrupt, even clipped. I think the “disembodied” nature of the e-mail medium is partly to blame (I won’t even address texting or twitter here; that is for another time). You are not communicating directly with a person, but a screen. E-mail … [Read more...]