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Writing Tip Number 8
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Writing Tip Number 8: Communicate Respectfully

Email, texting and social media have become perhaps the most popular forms of communication in many parts of the world. However, many people express themselves via these outlets in ways they would never do over the phone or speaking face-to-face. Many people using these vehicles of communication are curt, disrespectful, vulgar, etc., especially if they believe they can be so in anonymity. However, the writers come off as rude, unprofessional, petty, ignorant, inhumane, etc.

In an organizational setting, disrespectful emails can ultimately destroy morale and even bring down the entire organization.

Writing Tip Number 7: Strive for Consistency

Many writers are unsure of themselves and for that reason lack consistency. For example, within the same article, essay or book, they might spell words or use punctuation in different ways. They might spell a name "Terri" on one page, while referring to the same person as "Terry" on another. Or they might use a period outside of quotation marks in one sentence and use it within quotation marks in another instance.

Even if a writer is not certain how to spell a word, use punctuation, etc. she should be consistent. The words should be spelled the same throughout the work, and the punctuation should be the same when the same circumstances apply. It drives editors, proofreaders, and worst of all readers crazy when trying to figure out how a word should be spelled, how the writer wants to use punctuation, etc. At least if a writer is consistent, those reading, editing or proofreading her work will be better able to figure out the intent of the writer, and if necessary, how to correct her writing.

Writing Tip No. 6: Write What You Want or Feel

The conventional wisdom is that writers, authors, musicians, rappers, etc. should only undertake subject matter which they know. However, this is not necessarily true.

Nobel laureate Toni Morrison, author of the masterpieceBelovedand other works, disagrees with this advice. She believes writers should write about what theydon'tknow.

It all depends on the writer. One of the greatest writers and literary geniuses of all time, William Shakespeare, was not afraid to write about what he did not know.

Writing Tip No. 5: Write to Be Understood

Writing tip number five is similar to writing tip number four: Know Your Audience. When addressing a general audience, refrain as far as possible from using foreign words or phrases. (Some writers go so far as to use foreign sentences and paragraphs, leaving many of their readers completely baffled.)

It is also a good idea to not use English words that are too rare, big or difficult to pronounce. A friend of mine used to say, "If you have an advanced vocabulary, you might as well use it.


Many speakers and writers deliver speeches and articles without being aware of what kinds of people are in their target audience. This can be disastrous.

A good example of a writer not knowing her audience would be an Intelligent Design advocate or a young-Earth creationist writing an article to be submitted to a prestigious journal such asSCIENTIFIC AMERICAN or SCIENCE. The writer would have no serious chance of being published unless the editors of such journals wanted to warn their readers about what NOT to accept.

Writing Tip Three: Avoid the Double Negative

Some writers make the mistake of using a double negative. Examples of double negatives are:

"Don't ask me for nothing."
(Correction: Don't ask me for anything.)
"We don't have nothing."
(Correction: We don't have anything, or, We have nothing.)
"Can't nobody hold me down."
(Correction: No one can hold me down.)

In the last sentence, not only is the grammar atrocious, but the syntax is wrong. Proper sentence construction is a must if the writer is to be taken seriously.

Writing Tip Two: Avoid the Masculine Bias

Many people continue to write with a masculine bias. For example, they will write "A man must learn to assert himself in all things," when such a statement certainly applies to women as well. Or they might write of "man" or "mankind," when to be respectfully inclusive, they could just as easily write of humanity or humankind.

Moreover, many people continue to assume that only men are to be found in certain professions. That is to say, they might write of salesmen rather than salespersons, chairmen as opposed to chairpersons (or even chairs), mailmen instead of mail carriers, firemen instead of firefighters, etc.

Writing Tip One: Watch Your Tone

Everyone has to write at some time. However, written communication, sadly, is a dying art. On any given day one can identify numerous errors in spelling, grammar, punctuation, etc. in emails, Web posts, on social media sites, and so forth.
For that reason, I have decided to do my part to help improve this dire situation. My first writing tip will have to do with tone. Too often, especially in email correspondence, in comments sections on Websites, etc. writers tend to be rude, crude, disrespectful, hateful, etc.