In another installment of “Let’s Help Others To Take Seriously What We Write,” I’d like to offer a link to Solveig Haugland’s “OpenOffice.org Training, Tips, and Ideas” blog:
The key thing about many of these items, and useful grammar and punctuation in general, is they’re not just fancy-schmancy rules. They are important rules that affect the meaning of what you say. I think most people would agree is an important component of communication–controlling the meaning of what you’re writing.
Some of them don’t affect meaning, but do make it easier and more pleasant for your readers. That means they’re more likely to read your email, spec, or marketing blurb, and thus get the information you’re trying to convey.
Here are the high points. She goes on to explain them (and beautifully, I might add) in the body of the article.
- Use the word that is correct (the correct word, which helps your readers understand you, is always a good choice)
- Wherever possible without sounding dorky, put only in front of the thing it applies to.
- Keep your intransitive verbs off my body
- Lay off using lie incorrectly
- Dangling participles are as bad as you’ve heard.
- Few and less and more (but is less more?)
- Remember the comma.
- Cut down on the parenthetical phrases
- Forget you ever encountered ellipsis….unless you’re quoting a movie review…and leaving out the…bad parts…
- Hyphenation is important.
(For what it’s worth, I disagree with her about the serial comma. I think it’s important to use it. There are times when it matters a great deal for sake of clarity, and in those times when it doesn’t matter, it does no harm. Good habits are good habits.)
Go read — and learn well! — the rest: Top Ten Useful Grammar and Punctuation Points I Learned as a Techwriter and in Life in General (and Three to Ignore)
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