Tag Archives: editing

11 phrases you’re misusing

We all fall short, including me (however rarely). This morning a friend sent me a link to some of the most misused phrases and I was so excited about it that I couldn’t wait until Friday to send! Please note the first phrase – it’s one of my biggest pet peeves.

I CouB letterldn’t Care Less, (could NOT care less)

“I couldn’t care less” is what you would say to express maximum apathy toward a situation. Basically you’re saying, “It’s impossible for me to care less about this because I have no more care to give. I’ve run out of care.” Using the incorrect “I could care less” indicates that “I still have care left to give—would you like some?”

First-Come, First-Served

The actual phrase is “first-come, first-served,” to indicate that the participants will be served in the order in which they arrive. “First come, first serve” suggests that the first person to arrive has to serve all who follow.

Sneak Peek

A “peek” is a quick look. A “peak” is a mountain top. The correct expression is “sneak peek,” meaning a secret or early look at something.

Shoo-In

“Shoo-in” is a common idiom that means a sure winner. To “shoo” something is to urge it in a direction. As you would shoo a fly out of your house, you could also shoo someone toward victory.

Emigrated From

The verb “emigrate” is always used with the preposition “from,” whereas immigrate is always used with the preposition “to.” To emigrate is to come from somewhere, and to immigrate is to go to somewhere.

Peace of Mind

“Peace” of mind means calmness and tranquility. The expression “piece of mind” actually would suggest doling out sections of brain.

For All Intents and Purposes

The correct phrase, “for all intents and purposes,” originates from English law dating back to the 1500s, which used the phrase “to all intents, constructions, and purposes” to mean “officially” or “effectively.”

By and Large

The phrase “by and large” was first used in 1706 to mean “in general.” It was a nautical phrase derived from the sailing terms “by” and “large.” While it doesn’t have a literal meaning that makes sense, “by and large” is the correct version of this phrase.

Due Diligence

“Due diligence” is a business and legal term that means you will investigate a person or business before signing a contract with them or before formally engaging in a business deal together. You should do your due diligence and investigate business deals fully before committing to them.

Piqued My Interest

To “pique” means to arouse, so the correct phrase here is “piqued my interest,” meaning that my interest was awakened. To say that something “peaked my interest” might suggest that my interest was taken to the highest possible level, but this is not what the idiom is meant to convey.

Case in Point

The correct phrase in this case is “case in point,” which derives its meaning from a dialect of Old French. While it may not make any logical sense today, it is a fixed idiom.

A love letter response to my post …

“It gives me peace of mind to know that our team of producers and marketers will have a resource that is not exclusive or first-come, first-served to conduct ample due diligence on the proper use of idioms that will, for all intents and purposes, improve our overall application of the English vernacular and emigrate from our brutish, rudimentary applications of this form of fixed expression.  By and large I could care less about the grammatical prowess of others but I feel this resource will make us all a shoo-in for impressing our contemporaries and will pique their interest in our events thusly providing a case in point for why the proper use of idioms works like a charm for separating sheep from goats

Idioms are the bees knees, yo!”

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Published: It’s what happens when your press release rocks

The Detroit Business Journal wrote an article on my work’s upcoming military event off the back of a press release we sent out via PR Newswire. The end goal of any press release is to have it turn into a story, but that very rarely happens. Well, today is that day.

I’ll keep it short and sweet, but read this article I wrote if you want more information on how to write a press release.

Here’s the press release in its entirety:

Press Release

And, in summary:

IDGA’S LIGHTWEIGHT TACTICAL VEHICLES SUMMIT COMES TO DETROIT THIS MARCH
Advancements and Opportunities within the Lightweight Tactical Vehicles Programs

New York, NY (February 2, 2015) – IDGA is pleased to announce its debut event, the
Lightweight Tactical Vehicles Summit this March 16-18 in Detroit. The Summit will feature more than 20 highly qualified speakers, which include five military program managers who boast a combined 300 years of military experience.

This new program will bring together some of the military’s key decision makers in an intimate forum to give insight into future vehicle acquisition projects. Since fewer vehicles contract opportunities are available due to drawn down conflicts abroad and sequestration, the military must be more proactive in identifying best value solution providers. This event will serve as an ideal platform for the military decision makers to achieve that initiative.

The summit will bring together 20+ high profile speakers including; COL Kmiecik, Director of Mounted Requirements, COL Mike Milner, Program Manager, Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle, COL Jason Craft, Program Manager, Mine Resistant Ambush Proof Vehicles and COL James Schirmer, Program Manager, Armored Fighting Vehicles.

Never before has IDGA had the pleasure of announcing such a powerful faculty with speakers representing programs ranging from the AMPV to the ULCV.

2015 sessions will cover:
• Future of the Ultra Lightweight Combat Vehicle
• Ultra-Light Tactical Mobility and the Expeditionary Force
• Mine Resistant Ambush Proof Vehicles
• Alternate Vehicle Programs – The Future Fighting Vehicle
• Introducing the AMPV
• DAPRA Presents: The GXV-T
• Army’s Combat Vehicle Modernization Strategy

And many more!

Join the vehicles community as they come together to learn best practices, programs and processes for 2015 and beyond. This will be a rare opportunity to speak with such a broad range of program managers, while meeting your future clients within this hard-to-reach military vehicles community. To access the full agenda or to register for the conference, visit http://www.lighttacticalvehiclesummit.com

About IDGA

The Institute for Defense & Government Advancement (IDGA): (www.idga.org) a division of IQPC, is a non‐partisan information‐based organization dedicated to the promotion of innovative ideas in public service and defense through live conferences and events. We bring together speaker panels and events comprised of military and government professionals.

Capitalization in Headlines & Subject Lines

Fix yo grammar.
Fix yo grammar.

Lately I’ve seen some inconsistencies between who is capitalizing what in certain subject lines and titles.

So, stop. It’s grammar time!

Opinions are divided across stylebooks on what words should be capitalized, but throughout my career I’ve been able to develop a universally-accepted, three-rule guideline:

  1. Always capitalize the first and last word of the subject line/title (you all are perfect with this rule.)
  2. Capitalize any and all words that are four or more letters in length
  3. Do NOT capitalize conjunctions (and, or, but, nor, yet, so, for), articles (a, an, the) and short prepositions (in, to, of, at, by, up, for, off, on).

Here’s a quiz I pulled off the World Wide Web to test you on these rules. Which words do you think should be capitalized in these titles/subject lines?

  • made to stick: why some ideas survive and others die
  • the story factor: inspiration, influence, and persuasion through the art of storytelling
  • fierce conversations: achieving success at work and in life, one conversation at a time
  • a funny thing happened on the way to the boardroom: using humor in business speaking

Think on it …

Still thinking ….

Do you know which words to uppercase yet?

Ok, let’s test those skills:

Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die (to is a short preposition; and is a conjunction)

  • The Story Factor: Inspiration, Influence, and Persuasion Through the Art of Storytelling (through is a preposition, but is capitalized because it is greater than four letters)
  • Fierce Conversations: Achieving Success at Work and in Life, One Conversation at a Time (one is capitalized because it is an adjective)
  • A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Boardroom: Using Humor in Business Speaking

The most common errors I see are with short words that are not conjunctions, articles, or prepositions. Words such as one, it, its, it’s, him, and own should all be capitalized no matter where they appear in a title.

I hope this helps! Next week a note on prepositions? Email me to let me know what you have questions about.

BONUS: Did you know there’s a name for the the “dot, dot, dot” … you see in emails and other correspondence? It’s called an ellipses (eee-lip-seas), and is used most frequently in writing when summarizing quotations.

Effective Email Marketing for Niche Markets

This is a rough recreation of a niche marketing email I wrote for the Military Radar community. A few notes about why it works:

  • It has a catch subject line
  • It opens with a quote from an industry expert
  • It presents the event’s Five W’s upfront
  • It has four calls-to-action to download the content piece
  • It establishes industry knowledge

Let’s get to the email. The subject line was:

From the Desk of Dr. Guerci: Next Gen Antennas

8th Annual Military Radar Summit
February 23-25, 2015
Washington, D.C.

www.MilitaryRadarSummit.com

The Military Radar Summit is a truly unique venueIt addresses the entire radar enterprise: emerging customer needs and markets, the latest technology developments and unparalleled networking opportunities with those ready to do business…

Dr. Joe Guerci, Fellow and Warren D. White Award Recipient, IEEE

Dr. Guerci, the foremost radar authority, has been the Military Radar Summit’s chairman many times over and has provided us with an exclusive article on the Next Generation of Affordable Smart Antennas. Read the full article here.

Dr. Guerci's content piece, which is promoted in this content marketing email.
Dr. Guerci’s content piece, which is promoted in this content marketing email.

Next Generation Affordable Smart Antennas

A confluence of advances in low cost digitally controllable RF metamaterial-based apertures and real-time embedded cognitive signal processing has afforded a new opportunity to realize a distinctly new and affordable low SWAP smart antenna capability for a multitude of demanding applications from communications to radar. This article, which is co-authored by Dr. Joe Guerci in the Microwave Journal, provides an overview of these enabling advances, their synergistic combination and the new markets that are emerging as a result.

Download the ArticleEmail Me the Article

For more information on the event, including the draft agenda, additional content and speaker and session information, visit www.MilitaryRadarSummit.com.

I look forward to seeing you this February 23-25 in Washington, D.C.

Kind regards,

Headshot-1

Hannah Hager
Online Content Director
IDGA

P.S. Take a peek at this summary of our past attendees for an idea of who you can expect to meet and network with at the event.

Here’s the full thumbnail of the email:

Guerci Thumbnail

Ampersands — Use sparingly

Did you know this symbol has a name?

An ampersand is the informal symbol for "and."
An ampersand is the informal symbol for “and.”
It’s called an ampersand and it’s grossly over-used in business writing. Ampersands are pronounced as written: am-per-sand.

The ampersand is an over-used abbreviation for the word “and” – it really should be limited to a few situations in formal, business writing:

1.) In company names where it’s warranted (Smith & Jones Law Firm)

2.) When artistic considerations dictate; e.g., a logo

3.) In specific academic references (Grant & Smith Publishing,2001)

4.) Addressing a couple on an invitation or envelope (Mr. & Mrs. Smith)

5.) When items in a series are related, but this is bridging on unacceptable (John has experience in Marketing, Research & Design and Business Management)

In general, it is not proper grammar to simply abbreviate the word and replace it with an ampersand. Why? Because the ampersand symbol is considered more casual. If you’re working for a business-to-business or business-to-consumer company, you should not be using it. If you want to send it in a text message to your bae, however, that’s fine by me.

In conclusion, it’s not that I hate the ampersand, it’s just not correct in formal, business writing.

Everybody has a Story to Tell

The awkward silence. Far from foe, the awkward silence is your best friend.

Let me ask you something: What is your first reaction when you’re on the phone with someone and the natural flow of the conversation ends? If you’re like most people, it is to immediately fill the space with your words. Say something. Anything.

As a newspaper reporter and journalist, one of the best pieces of advice I ever received was to let the other person fill the awkward silence space. In journalism, this is a nifty technique that prompts the source to tell you information they might not have previously shared. In life, it’s a great technique for teaching you patience in conversation.

Most of us start out as selfish conversationalists. Raise your hand if you’ve ever experienced the following daftness: The man who drones on and on about his life and travels. The woman who cuts you off to share her opinion, story or antecdote, which she believes is far more relevant than what you have to say. We all hate these people. I was once these people — and it failed me miserably. Not only did I send people running for the hills with my self absorption, I was also failing to learn anything about anyone else.

If you don’t find someone interesting then your problem is you’re doing all the talking.

“What really knocks me out is a book that, when you're all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it.” - J.D. Salinger, author of The Catcher in the Rye
“What really knocks me out is a book that, when you’re all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it.”
– J.D. Salinger, author of The Catcher in the Rye

Since I made the long and painful process from becoming a “talker” to a “listener,” I have never met a boring person. Hear me out. People love to talk about themselves. This is a simple fact. If you start asking them questions about their life, work, family or hobbies you will find that they always come up with something interesting to say. What this means is that you also have something interesting to say.

A top excuse among aspiring writers is that they “don’t have anything to say.” We all have a story to tell. Simply write what we know. I’ve learned to ignore the snickering when I say that I write about my life. Oh, you don’t think my life as a twenty-something, middle-class white girl living in NYC isn’t interesting enough? You’re wrong. Someone, somewhere will be able to relate to me. And that’s the point of writing, isn’t it?

I don’t care if you’re a reformed drug dealer who was detained in Peru for six years on smuggling charges or if you’re a housewife in Oklahoma who has never left the United States. You and your story have value.

“What really knocks me out is a book that, when you’re all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it.” – J.D. Salinger, author of The Catcher in the Rye.

When you write, write for yourself and write like you’re talking to a friend. I think you’ll find that by using this foundation

your readers will eventually become your friends.

20 Common English Grammar Mistakes

I’m currently in learning mode. I’ve been working hard to sharpen my language skills and writing skills in order to stay on top of my game. In order order to do so, I’ve been scouring the web for insight and came across this post via Joanna Goodard’s blog. It goes into the top 20 common English grammar mistakes.

My favorites are the use of “who” and “whom” and “fewer or less”

Fewer and Less

“Less” is reserved for hypothetical quantities. “Few” and “fewer” are for things you can quantify. e.g., The firm has fewer than ten employees. e.g., The firm is less successful now that we have only ten employees.

Who and Whom

This one opens a big can of worms. “Who” is a subjective — or nominative — pronoun, along with “he,” “she,” “it,” “we,” and “they.” It’s used when the pronoun acts as the subject of a clause. “Whom” is an objective pronoun, along with “him,” “her,” “it”, “us,” and “them.” It’s used when the pronoun acts as the object of a clause. Using “who” or “whom” depends on whether you’re referring to the subject or object of a sentence. When in doubt, substitute “who” with the subjective pronouns “he” or “she,” e.g., Who loves you? cf., He loves me. Similarly, you can also substitute “whom” with the objective pronouns “him” or “her.” e.g., I consulted an attorney whom I met in New York. cf., I consulted him.

But, don’t you feel that if you used “whom” in a conversation you would come off a bit snobby?