Writing and Communicating Tips

October 23, 2012

Excel Formula for current time and date

Compliments of Denise Johnson, here is the formula you add to a cell in Excel if you want it to auto date a document: =NOW()

Once you have placed this formula into a cell in your document, you can modify how it gives you the date. Right click on the column, select “Format Cells” then select “Date” and look at the options in “Type.”

Using the Keyboard Rather than the Mouse

Anytime you’d rather use your keyboard than the mouse, simply hit the “Alt” key and letters will appear on the tabs and section of the ribbon.  You can select any tab or ribbon item with your keyboard instead. Also I have an ABC list of Key strokes for word.  It is with the Custom Guides at my desk.


July 11, 2012

Avoid death by PowerPoint with these tips

The phrase Death by PowerPoint has become more popular than we'd like, because of the way people misuse both PowerPoint and their audience's time. You can break down Death by PowerPoint into three sections.

Death by content
A presentation that doesn't meet the audience's needs bores and annoys the audience. The content might be too technical or not technical enough. The audience might already know what you're saying. A good practice is to try to get as much information about what the audience knows and needs to know before you write your talk.

Death by design
Slides that have too much text on them are a sure sign of Death by PowerPoint. Audiences complain of text that's too small to read or not clear on an overly-elaborate background. Other symptoms are very complex diagrams and charts.

Keep your slides simple and think of ways to communicate visually. Audiences can't read and listen at the same time, according to both research and common experience. (Try it yourself!) For this reason, you shouldn't put what you're saying on the slide. It's okay to talk without a slide!

Death by delivery
When a presenter doesn't speak clearly, doesn't look at the audience, and says "um" too many times, audiences get restless. Take the time to practice and videotape yourself for feedback. Or do the coin-in-a-can method. Find a can and some coins and ask a family member to drop a coin in the can every time you say Ah, or um or “you know” or “like” or any repetitive habit you have that you want to curb.

A free resource is the white paper, "From Death by PowerPoint to Life by PowerPoint with the Tell ‘n' ShowSM Method." (You need to register.) You can obtain this white paper at www.tellnshow.com/whitepaper.html.


June 22, 2012

Two new AP Stylebook guidelines
flair, flare -    Flair is conspicuous talent or style. Flare is a curving or spreading outward, as in a skirt.
Gray - in American this is the correct spelling. In England they use grey.

Communication Tips on Interruptions
Pre call the ground rules. “While I’m speaking you may have questions and I’m going to ask you to write them down so we can cover them during the Q & A time.
When there are side-bar conversations going on, move in on them by walking towards them. Then create a vacuum of silence, so they are the only ones talking.
Address the interruption with assertive language. “Thanks for holding your thoughts,” then do not look at that person as you continue on.

March 7, 2012

How to Abbreviate States

Spell out the names of the 50 U.S. states when they stand alone in textual material. Any state name may be condensed, however, to fit typographical requirements for tabular material.
States Not Abbreviated. Eight states are never abbreviated in datelines or text: Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Ohio, Texas and Utah.
Memory Aid: Spell out the names of the two states that are not part of the contiguous United States and of the continental states that are five letters or fewer.
ABBREVIATIONS REQUIRED: Use the state abbreviations listed at the end of this section:
–In conjunction with the name of a city, town, village or military base in most datelines. See datelines for examples and exceptions for large cities.
–In conjunction with the name of a city, county, town, village or military base in text. See examples in Punctuation section below. See datelines for guidelines on when a city name may stand alone in the body of a story.

Following are the state abbreviations, which also appear in the entries for each state (postal code abbreviations in parentheses):

Ala. (AL)      Md. (MD)      N.D. (ND)      Ariz. (AZ)       Mass. (MA)       Okla. (OK)
Ark. (AR)     Mich. (MI)     Ore. (OR)      Calif. (CA)      Minn. (MN)       Pa. (PA)
Colo. (CO)   Miss. (MS)    R.I. (RI)         Conn. (CT)    Mo. (MO)          S.C. (SC)
Del. (DE)     Mont. (MT)    S.D. (SD)      Fla. (FL)        Neb. (NE)         Tenn. (TN)
Ga. (GA)      Nev. (NV)     Vt. (VT)         Ill. (IL)            N.H. (NH)         Va. (VA)
Ind. (IN)       N.J. (NJ)       Wash. (WA)  Kan. (KS)      N.M. (NM)        W.Va. (WV)
Ky. (KY)      N.Y. (NY)      Wis. (WI)       La. (LA)         N.C. (NC)         Wyo. (WY)

These are the postal code abbreviations for the eight states that are not abbreviated in datelines or text: AK (Alaska), HI (Hawaii), ID (Idaho), IA (Iowa), ME (Maine), OH (Ohio), TX (Texas), UT (Utah). Also: District of Columbia (DC).
Use the two-letter Postal Service abbreviations only with full addresses, including ZIP code.
STATES IN HEADLINES: No periods for those abbreviated with two capital letters: NY, NJ, NH, NM, NC, SC, ND, SD and RI. Other states retain periods: Ga., Ky., Mont., Conn.
MISCELLANEOUS: Use New York state when necessary to distinguish the state from New York City.
Use state of Washington or Washington state when necessary to distinguish the state from the District of Columbia. (Washington State is the name of a university in the state of Washington.)


February 8, 2012


Time Zone

Capitalize the full name of the time in force within a particular zone: Eastern Standard Time, Eastern Daylight Time, Central Standard Time, etc.

Lowercase all but the region in short forms: the Eastern time zone, Eastern time, Mountain time, etc.

Spell out time zone in references not accompanied by a clock reading: Chicago is in the Central time zone.

The abbreviations EST, CDT, etc., are acceptable on first reference for zones used within the continental United States, Canada and Mexico only if the abbreviation is linked with a clock reading: noon EST, 9 a.m. PST. (Do not set off the abbreviations with commas.)

Spell out all references to time zones not used within the contiguous United States: When it is noon EDT, it is 1 p.m. Atlantic Standard Time and 8 a.m. Alaska Standard Time.

One exception to the spelled-out form: Greenwich Mean Time may be abbreviated as GMT on second reference if used with a clock reading.

Academic Degrees

Use an apostrophe in bachelor's degree, a master's, etc., but there is no possessive in Bachelor of Arts or Master of Science. Also: an associate degree (no possessive).

Use such abbreviations as B.A., M.A., LL.D. and Ph.D. only when the need to identify many individuals by degree on first reference would make the preferred form cumbersome. Use these abbreviations only after a full name – never after just a last name.

If mention of degrees is necessary to establish someone's credentials, the preferred form is to avoid an abbreviation and use instead a phrase such as: John Jones, who has a doctorate in psychology. Find more degree info at www.apstylebook.com

The English Influence Trivia

Ever wonder why so you see a lot of copy where there are hanging commas and periods. Example: This is a “Four-Star Resort”, and it’s expensive. Vs. This is a “Four-Star Resort,” and it’s expensive.
In England they hang commas and periods in many cases with rules of when to put them inside of quotes and when to place them outside of quotes.
In America we include commas and periods inside the quote, if there is to be a comma or period. The following marks can go outside of the quote: ! ? ; : in some cases. Follow the AP Press punctuation rules.
Similarly the word grey is correct for England. But in American gray is correct unless it is a greyhound.

January 19, 2012

The Dash
ABRUPT CHANGE: Use dashes to denote an abrupt change in thought in a sentence or an emphatic pause: We will fly to Paris in June – if I get a raise. Smith offered a plan – it was unprecedented – to raise revenues.
SERIES WITHIN A PHRASE: When a phrase that otherwise would be set off by commas contains a series of words that must be separated by commas, use dashes to set off the full phrase: He listed the qualities – intelligence, humor, conservatism, independence – that he liked in an executive.

Woops! Wish you could recall an email?
Have you ever sent an email before you meant to? After I did that, I heard some pretty funny, humbling stories.
Best plan: double check your message before you send it. Is this okay for the whole world to see? Is the “Subject” and “To” correct?

But when you do goof the following steps often work if the recipient has not opened it yet.
        *  Go into your sent email
        *  In the “Message”  tab go to the “Move” group
        *  Click on the “More Move Actions” arrow
        *  Select the recall option and follow the instructions.

Can You Concantenate!
Is this a new dance? No, but the Excel cell content is doing the dancing. If you want to combine the contents of two, or three cells there is a simply way to do this.
If Cell A2 is Kathy and Cell B2 is Marson you can place the following formula to get: And the winner is Kathy Marson
The formula to use D2 is:  =CONCATENATE("And the winner is ",A2," ",B2)

January 19, 2012


• Spell out numbers below 10 (five films, six-way connection, two studies).
• Use numerals for numbers 10 and above (9 to 12 times a week).
• Add s only to make a plural of a number, with no apostrophe (the 1990s).
• Spell out fractions (one-third, one-tenth).
• Spell out large numbers at the beginning of a sentence (Forty nights after we landed on that desolate shore . . .).

Excel Tables:
When you have several columns of data you can easily convert it to a table.
This gives you greater functionality and speed. If you use Excel in storing data
or numerical records on a regular basis, the instruction on total training will
save you time and make you more productive.

Attend this fun learning session at: www.totaltraining.com.

January 10, 2012

Comma: One common use of a comma is to separate the elements in a series of two,
three or more. When using a connecting word, such as “or,” or “and,” it is not
necessary to use a comma unless you list four, five, six, seven, or even eight
elements.  For using a comma at the end of a quote, AP Press says, “If your
sentence ends with a quotation mark, the period goes inside the quotes.” For
more details on the comma check out the AP Press Web site.

Question from last week’s tip: Do you put a period after $19.99 if it comes at
the end of a sentence?  The answer is yes. If you don’t like seeing $19.99 with
a period at the end, you can change the structure of the sentence so the dollar
amount is in the middle, or change your amount to $20.

Word Tip: 

Do you want to know your word count while typing in Word?  As you are
typing, look at the lower left of your screen and you will see how many words you
have typed as well as what page you are on.

Want to see what is changed in Word 2010?
View 'Comparing Word 2007 and Word 2010' from the "Word 2010 New Features" course,
by Gini Courter at www.lynda.com


January 5, 2012

The temptation to use parentheses is a clue that a sentence is becoming
contorted. Try to write it another way. If a sentence must contain incidental material,
then commas or two dashes are frequently more effective. Use these alternatives
whenever possible.

When writing a letter or an article, the correct way to indicate the time of day
is: 7 a.m. and 9:30 p.m. 
(AM and PM are used only when you use military time)

When in doubt, check it out!! The standard we use is the AP Stylebook.



Tip of the Week Links

AP Press

Excel Formula for current time/Date
Using the Keyboard Rather than Mouse
Avoid death by PowerPoint
New AP Press guidelines
How to abbreviate states
Time zones
Academic degrees
English Influence
Recall email
Can you concantenate!
Excel tables