Software

Five simple tips that will improve your writing a thousand percent

Social media, texting, and rampant blogging may be dumbing down our writing skills. Here are a few ways to keep your writing professional and clear -- without sweating a bunch of picky grammar rules.

Plenty has been written to help those who want their writing to be perfect (or at least not plagued with idiocies). Unfortunately, writing guidelines often descend into subjective battles between Strunk-and-White zealots and rebellious serial comma murderers.

But like it or not -- and plenty of people don't like it at all -- following a few best practices and being careful to avoid mistakes will make you a better communicator. If you don't want to be bogged down in linguistic minutiae, I don't blame you a bit. But if you'd like to make your business communications (or your blog posts and contributions to discussion threads) lucid and effective, these tips may come in handy.


Note: This article is also available as a PDF download.

1: Lose the embellishments

Good business writing is concise. That doesn't mean it has to be dull or unimaginative. But it should be free of awkward and unnecessary constructions, laborious details, and stuff you've thrown in because you think it makes you sound smart.

Wordy: "The pro version gives you the ability to enable error logging." Better: "The pro version lets you enable error logging." Or: The pro version offers error logging.

Your writing will also be stronger if you keep an eye out for redundant phrasing. I often see this sort of sentence:

Redundant: In addition to showing your users how to use basic business software, you should also make sure you show them how to search the network. Better: In addition to showing your users how to use basic business software, show them how to search the network. Or: Show your users how to use basic business software and search the network.

2: Watch out for commonly confused words

Many words are easy to mix up, and even the most meticulous writers occasionally slip. The "Oh c'mon, you knew what I meant, right?" camp will say it doesn't matter. But to project professionalism and inspire confidence that you know what you're talking about (and to keep the infernal grammar crusaders off your back), double-check for mix-ups like these:

  • accept/except
  • effect/affect
  • lay/lie
  • loose/lose
  • passed/past
  • personal/personnel
  • moral/morale
  • sit/set
  • its/it's
  • your/you're
  • their/they're/there
  • theirs/there's
  • then/than

3: Don't get slap-happy with the Shift key

There are rules about how terms, titles, and names should be capitalized, and the rules vary from one organization, publication, and context to another. If you want to be scrupulous, find out what style you should follow and try to stick to it. If you want to be semi-scrupulous, carve out your own style and stick to it. Just don't capitalize words or names at random. Again, it may seem like a small detail. But if your work reads like a ransom note or your readers barrel through a title thinking it's part of a sentence -- or if you go all e.e. cummings and don't capitalize proper names or designations such as mhz -- you'll confuse or mislead people.

4: Keep apostrophes under control

You've probably seen your share of business signs that include bizarre apostrophe usage. Often, an apostrophe is inserted before the letter s, as in:

  • No camera's are permitted inside.

In fact, there are Web sites, such as Apostrophe Catastrophes and Apostrophe Abuse, that are devoted to sharing these blunders. But correct use of apostrophes is fairly ironclad, without too much room for preferential quibbling. Use them for contractions, possessive nouns, and a quote within a quote.

Contractions are simple: The apostrophe stands in for the missing letters, as in you're and it's.

To show possession, the only big gotcha is determining whether you're talking about one or multiple things:

  • The users' machines have reached the end of their lifecycle.
  • The user's machine has reached the end of its lifecycle.

And the quote within a quote is straightforward, too:

  • The customer shouted, "My computer keeps saying 'Access denied,' and I want it fixed right away!"

One other way you may see apostrophes used is with plural acronyms or years, like this:

  • I keep getting BSOD's.
  • I worked on that project in the 90's.

I'm not sure where this habit comes from, and at least one guide -- The Chicago Manual of Style -- has a rule against it. Since the apostrophe isn't needed for clarity and may trip up readers because it mimics a possessive noun, it's better to skip it.

5: Get to the point

This last tip is a bit different because it pertains to how a piece of writing is constructed rather than to the individual components of expression, like apostrophes, words, and capital letters. But it's equally important (arguably more so).

One of the most common writing problems is the interminable preamble. Often, people aren't sure what they're trying to say or where they're going when they begin writing something. So they prime the pump by meandering, making self-evident observations, and promising to address topics they don't end up covering.

There's nothing wrong with this approach. It's a valid process -- but only if you revisit your introduction for fine-tuning. Whether you're writing an email, a report, a blog post, or a book chapter, your readers want you to cut to the chase. You don't have to streamline the life out of your intros. Just tighten up your remarks, get rid of the clever bits you're so proud of that nobody will care about, and make sure what you've said fits with what follows.

Additional resources

About

Jody Gilbert has been writing and editing technical articles for the past 25 years. She was part of the team that launched TechRepublic and is now senior editor for Tech Pro Research.

72 comments
crick616
crick616

One more pet peeve: I don't recall anyone ever complaining about this, but I am annoyed by misuse of the word "acronym" when "abbreviation" is correct. I think acronyms are supposed to be pronouncable words (like SCUBA, RADAR, or SPUFI) whose letters describe the thing being named (Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus, RAdio Detection And Ranging, SQL Processing Using File Input, etc...). "IBM" and "CEO" are abbreviations, not acronyms.

mike.walsh
mike.walsh

For guides on good writing, there are few better that "Simple and Direct: A Rhetoric for Writers" by Jaques Barzun. Barzun was an educator, distinguished scloar and professor at Columbia University. He wrote many books including "From Dawn to Decadence". For anyone wanting to improve their writing style "Simple and Direct" is one of the best guides ever written.

Marc Erickson
Marc Erickson

It's is commonly seen as a possessive. This usage is wrong - it's is ALWAYS a contraction of it is. The possessives yours and its DO NOT use apostrophes. This error is so common it's on the first page of Strink and White's The Elements Of Style.

sparent
sparent

2. I would add complement/compliment, as well as principal/principle 4. Let's not forget that the possessive on a word ending with the letter x is a simple apostrophe.

rocketmouse
rocketmouse

"a thousand percent" is 1000 per cent (100) is 1000/100 is...

tiger48
tiger48

1. Using "hone in" instead of "home in" meaning to focus in on something. You can argue for it, but not in my work. 2. Saying something along the lines of "we will make that 10 times smaller", if you make it 1 times smaller it goes to zero. Convention is, I guess, that we are to assume they mean divide by 10. Sloppy math.

neilb
neilb

The pedant in me wo'n't allow it. :|

Madsmaddad
Madsmaddad

Jody, It is a good article, and I would like your permission to post it for my students. Perhaps you would like to amend it with some of the comments first? One of my favourite misuses of words is the term 'rouge' used when the student means a rogue access point. I am currently reading "Strictly English: The correct way to write" by Simon Heffer, which includes the points you have made, but not so succinctly. Regards,

mvsenin
mvsenin

Not sure this can be the number 8, but just would like to understand whether presence/absense of "I" [ai] confuse native speakers. I'm not a native speaker, that's why I'm asking the question. Posts like this one can start from "I'm not sure...", but it's still understandable without "I", so what would be your recommendation regarding this? Cannot it confuse someone sometime? Thanking you in advance.

john3347
john3347

An additional error that is very common is the use of "than" with "different". If one item or object is different relative to another, it is "different from" not "different than". Not a big deal, as many will say, but proper grammar and proper use of the language in use (English in this case) will make one's writings more "professional" and, more importantly, more credible.

awgiedawgie
awgiedawgie

I have said for years that the internet - and more recently texting - is making idiots of our youth. I would say without hesitation that today's teens spend a lot more time texting, tweeting, and chatting than they do any other kind of writing. And I have seen more than one "about me" page on which the owner said, "I don't read" under the "favourite book" category. Little to no reading or real writing pretty much limits people's input and output to things that really require very little brain activity. And since the internet has been creating idiots for so many years, those same people are now working in and maybe even running business offices that demand better writing skills than they possess. A few additions: confused words: to/too/two; a/an; cord/chord/cored That last one was misused where I used to work. It was painted on a wall next to the charger for an electric forklift - "Hang up cored." I cringed every time I looked at it. apostrophe usage: It should be mentioned that "the 90's" should be written "the '90s". The apostrophe takes the place of the "19". While putting it in the wrong place is the greater atrocity, it's still not proper if it's omitted entirely. correct pronoun usage: he/him; she/her; me/I; etc. For example, "Me and her went to the movie." should be "She and I went to the movie." correct phrase pairing: either/or; neither/nor; not only/but also ending a sentence with a preposition: While not a flaming mistake, you should never end a sentence with a preposition. For instance, my above sentence, "...better writing skills than they possess." started out as "...better writing skills than they are capable of." I felt it was worth correcting, so I felt it was worth mentioning.

The 'G-Man.'
The 'G-Man.'

Elements could have been quicker the the point and less wordy.

jkiernan
jkiernan

Stop using the word 'however'. It's the new hallmark of abominable prose. For some telling examples, look at almost every Wikipedia article.

atoms
atoms

I've been looking for a band name for a while. I'm gonna suggest "Interminable Preamble". Thanks Jody!

john3347
john3347

WHY, WHY, WHY to technical writers refer to companies in the plural tense? A company is SINGULAR! "Microsoft has done this or that"; not "Microsoft have done this or that". I so often see the statement such as "Whilst Microsoft were demonstrating their..."; should be "Whilst Microsoft was demonstrating their...". "Sony certainly look to be taking on...", should be "Sony certainly looks to be taking on". "Microsoft" is singular, "Sony" is singular. A company is singular. The people who make up a company are plural, but the company is singular! Technical writers, your technical expertise may be top shelf, but your English grammar is slipping badly. That's my story, and I'm stickin' to it!

sparent
sparent

Acronyms are a subset of abbreviations. Abbreviations do not have rules as to what letters are omitted. Acronyms are abbreviations where only the initial letter (i.e., CEO) or letters (Benelux) of each word are retained. Initialisms are acronyms made up of the initial letter of each word.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

You should have used the past participle—Strunk. ;)

awgiedawgie
awgiedawgie

And it's so easy to keep its usage straight if people would just make the small effort to remember it. It's just those two little sentences in the middle of your post - not at all much for people to keep track of.

santeewelding
santeewelding

I don't ever, ever anticipate having to abide by that rule. If by chance I do, I won't.

AnsuGisalas
AnsuGisalas

language. And not sloppy, conventional. Remember "What is two times two?". "Times" means multiplication. X times greater is "multiply by x", and X times smaller is "Multiply by 1/x". Times doesn't mean adding percentages of X, which is an entirely peripheral activity anyway. 1 times smaller is divide by 1, which leads nowhere... and so is superfluous. 1 times smaller is NOT "subtract 100%" - which is always leads to zero and is a nonsensical operation. The title's 1000% is silly too, I give you that. It makes the writing, supposedly, 11 times greater...

santeewelding
santeewelding

Such a fixation. Suggest you take up with mavens of the art, rather than slum with inadequate learners -- of which, I wonder, are you.

gadgetgirl
gadgetgirl

who once sent me "Chip'n'm" in an email.... :) :x GG

JodyGilbert
JodyGilbert

Hi Madsmaddad, I'm happy for you to share this info with your students -- maybe it would be most convenient if they downloaded the PDF (http://downloads.techrepublic.com.com/abstract.aspx?docid=2386953), but it might be more instructive if you sent them to this post so they can read people's comments (and possibly jump in with their own ideas and opinions). This piece wasn't intended to be an exhaustive list, and I left out many of my pet peeves (rogue/rouge is classic, btw -- I haven't come across that one!). But sometimes people are more receptive to adopting one or two good habits from a short list like this. That was my goal, anyway! -- j

g01d4
g01d4

It's not ninety(90)s - if you're not going to spell out nineties. Also the apostrophe in BSOD's might be to make sure that the plural is not mistaken as part of the acronym. Wikipedia has more here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acronym_and_initialism). I don't think there should be a hard rule on this.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

Some of my peeves... - hear/here. I hear you here. Please don't write "Here, here" like you are trying to attract a waitress; the phrase "Hear, hear" is correct, as in we hear you and agree. - poured/pored. You pour water, you pore over documents. (The NYT actually "poured over" data in one of their articles. :0 ) - service (noun/verb confusion). A service is what you provide to your customers. Please don't try to service me; that's what a bull does to a cow. - "For all intents and purposes", not "for all intensive purposes". But, for all intents and purposes, I am intensive about my purposes. - moot point. A moot point is usually a subject that is irrelevant in the current situation. Mute point is just wrong. There are others, but I'll stop now.

chaimlavan
chaimlavan

The title is a quote from Winston Churchill. The preposition rule was take over from Latin where it matters. Many English phrases make no sense unless they end in a preposition.

mvsenin
mvsenin

Can you please provide better alternatives? By the way, is it because of too frequent use of the word? (Please note, I'm not a native speaker, but sometimes play a role of tech. writer) Thanks. P.S. A joke from Russia - "Chukchi is not a reader, chukchi is a writer"... means chukchi does not read what he/she writes, believe you or not, but it's funny when said in the right moment :)

JodyGilbert
JodyGilbert

...I just hope the band doesn't get a lot of gigs as the opening act. You might lose your core audience.:>

boxfiddler
boxfiddler

[i]"Whilst Microsoft was demonstrating their...".[/i] ;)

tiger48
tiger48

Words, such as Ford, herd, team, that cover a group of things are collective nouns. They can be considered singular or plural depending on context. Group acts as a unit - singular. Group acts as various units - plural. However, sometimes the answer isn't obvious or following the rule just doesn't sound right. In those cases use editorial discretion, rework the sentence until it does work.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

Then duck. As I understand it, the British English convention is that a company is made up of people and is not a person itself. Therefore, "[The people at] Microsoft have introduced their new operating system..." And if companies are singular, shouldn't that be "Whilst Microsoft was demonstrating [u]its[/u]..." whatever?

awgiedawgie
awgiedawgie

acronym -n "a pronounceable name made up of a series of initial letters or parts of words" And from Wikipedia... "By 1943, the term acronym had been used in English to recognize abbreviations (and contractions of phrases) that were pronounced as words." IBM and CEO are both initialisms, not acronyms.

sparent
sparent

It is often easy to rephrase your text to avoid the form when dealing with common nouns ending in x. Rephrasing can become laborious for proper nouns. Would I really want to rephrase "Alex' car", just to avoid the apostrophe? I think not.

neilb
neilb

That's how they pronounce it down there. Has the snow finally gone? :D

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

The "rouge" access point pops up a lot in the discussion and question forums. I always want to ask why it's red... :D

tiger48
tiger48

Good point, I was ready to jump on it.

JamesRL
JamesRL

If you remember the town crier "Hear Ye, Hear Ye", then you won't get this one confused. "Hear, Hear" was adopted by Parliament as a polite way of agreeing with what the speaker was saying. It is like saying "You need to hear this, you need to hear this, its important.", only in short form. For a moot point, I recall Moot court, where we students would try cases. It was Moot because no matter what we did, it didn't matter, as we weren't in a real court, and no one was going to jail (or go free). I still remember the Saturday Night Live skit with Jesse Jackson - "The point is moot". I'm sure people can find it on the net somewhere For me, its the teen usage of "whatever" that drives me bananas. I often get a bit of temper going when my kids do this to me. Its dismissive and condescending, and doesn't help articulate a problem that we can solve, but an attitude that what I think doesn't matter.

awgiedawgie
awgiedawgie

There are now different rules for what is acceptable grammar in written and in spoken English. Such as "If I were" vs "If I was". I guess I could be considered one of the "crusty old timers" Lynch mentioned in his book, but I was taught that grammar is grammar, and if a person's grammar makes him look unprofessional or unlearned in his writing, then it also has the same effect in his speech. It has also been my personal experience that people who abuse the little trivial rules generally abuse the more important rules as well. While I concede that some sentences sound perfectly normal when using a preposition at the end, the excessive practice of doing so can easily make an author sound uneducated. Since this article is about improving your writing, and targeted at professionals, it is an advantage to consider the rule sound, regardless of its origins or its disputed validity. By forcing yourself to reword a sentence you have ended with a preposition, you will expand your vocabulary and improve your writing. I'm not saying your writing should be peppered with "with whom" and "for which", because too much of that also looks unprofessional; however, a letter, article, or paper can be very well written without sounding like the stereotypical stuffy old professor, and without using a single preposition to end a sentence. As for Winston Churchill's retort, "This is the sort of thing up with which I will not put", he worded it that way on purpose - to make a point - and because it was he who had been reprimanded for using a preposition to end a sentence. The phrase "put up with" is itself informal, so it is best to keep it out of your professional vocabulary. A better way to word that sentence, which a well-learned man like Churchill would know, would have been, "This is the sort of thing which I will not tolerate" or even without the 'which' - "This is the sort of thing I will not tolerate."

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

You may have to search for the answers to your questions, but I'm willing to bet that any question you have has been answered by one of them. I like John McIntyre's blog, You Don't Say. There are many others. If you page down, John provides links to several other interesting grammar and editing blogs in the right column. When it comes to writing, English is like most other languages. The more you write, the easier it gets. (I was going to say the more you write, the better it gets, but I've been writing for over 50 years and my "Great American novel" still suckx! :D )

awgiedawgie
awgiedawgie

The word "however" is not in itself a bad word to use, so yes, it would be the overuse of the word that makes it bad. Much the same atrocity is starting every sentence with the same word. There are many times "however" is used when it just isn't necessary. Other times the wording could be changed to get the same effect without using it. It is also often used when it is simply the wrong word for the thought the author is trying to convey. It's a little difficult to give examples, since each situation is unique, but you can take a couple ideas from this very paragraph. The first two sentences could have (and would have, by poor writers) been separated by the word "however" instead of a period, but it would have actually muddled the meaning. Again, the fourth sentence could have used "however" instead of "but" with the same effect. While it's a good practice to avoid "however" in order to avoid its overuse, it is also a good practice to avoid the overuse of any other word - such as "but" - in the process. The phrase "on the other hand" can be used to separate very dissimilar ideas. When those ideas take several sentences to convey, you can precede the first idea with "On one hand", and start a new paragraph for the second idea with "On the other hand", following each of the two phrases with a comma. Using both phrases helps give distinct boundaries to each of the author's thoughts. "However" is good for separating similar but different ideas when there are lengthy sentences involved. Instead of using a comma and "but", which is preferable for shorter sentences, you can use a semicolon for medium length sentences, followed by "however" and a comma. For very long sentences, use a period followed by "However" and a comma. Also note that very lengthy sentences should also be avoided unless absolutely necessary, as they can make the reader weary and likely to turn the page. There are often more effective ways to word compound sentences - even shorter ones separated with "but" - into multiple shorter ones. Another alternative to "however" is the phrase "at any rate". Use it to bring the focus back to center when you have deviated slightly from the core concept of the writing. One of the best ways to learn good writing techniques is to read good writing. This rules out the vast majority of anything written for the internet. Wikipedia, while a wealth of data, is quite often very poorly written. Blog posts can be even worse. Yes, there are good authors who write for the web, but they are relatively rare. Even news sites are victims of atrocious writing. I started to read a news article about Michael Jackson shortly after his death, and it was so terribly written that I simply could not finish reading it. I had had to go back and re-read passages several times just to figure out what the author was trying to say, and even then I wasn't very confident that I had gotten the idea. It was a lengthy article, and I had barely made it halfway through when I had to stop. Books are by far the best source of good writing, since publishers tend to be a lot more particular about the writing they accept. Even though the author is ultimately responsible for the content of the book, it still reflects directly on the publisher. My sister-in-law, who just received her Masters degree with honors, enjoys Dean Koontz. Her daughter, who was the valedictorian of her graduating class two years ago, also likes Koontz, as well as John Grisham. Personally, I read a lot of Frank Peretti. Look up BBC's top 100 list of must-read books for some great ideas.

awgiedawgie
awgiedawgie

...incompetence? ...infuriating insulting of our intelligence? ...incapacity for rational thought? Of course, that's considering MS as a singular collective entity. I actually know of one person who would be excluded from the set (of inept individuals) if you consider MS as a plural group of people. His dream was to work for Microsoft. Toward that end, he had all of his certifications (and then some) by the time he graduated from high school, and still proceeded to go out and get a master's degree before he finally went to work for Microsoft.

awgiedawgie
awgiedawgie

Grouping all collective nouns into a single set is itself uneducated. And if following the rule doesn't sound right, you can reword it so that it does sound right, but still follows the rules. You don't get to break the rules just because you think it sounds better - that's why they're called "rules" and not "suggestions." General nouns like herd and team are singular. To refer to a set of individuals, you should preface them with a plural, as in "the animals in the herd" or "the players on the team." Proper names of families are singular, so to refer to them requires their being pluralized - "all of the Steeles were generals - West Point grads." Names of bands and music groups can be either singular or plural, depending on usage - "the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir is one of the best groups I've heard" or "the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir are some of the best singers I've heard." Names of sports teams are always plural, regardless of the apparent form of the words - "Detroit Tigers" or "Utah Jazz." Company names are singular, regardless of their apparent form - "General Motors" or "Ford" - so to refer to a plural set of people, they too need to be prefaced with a plural - "the creative minds at Lamborghini have just released their latest acheivement." And as Nick pointed out above, in the singular, the entire sentence has to match the singular, not just the verb - "Lamborghini has just released its latest acheivement." (And Nick, I know several well-educated Brits, and I've never heard any of them use a company name as a plural, but I'm not a Brit myself, so I can't speak firsthand on what the formal or informal British grammar dictates.) The exception with company names is names composed of a series of names - "Dewey, Cheetum, and Howe are moving to their new building today" and "Dewey, Cheetum, and Howe is moving to its new building today" are both proper forms of the same sentence. The same exception applies to names ending in "Associates," as in "Johnson and Associates."

awgiedawgie
awgiedawgie

Even if the distinction of being pronounceable did not apply to acronyms before the 20th century, it would definitely seem that it applies now, and since this is after all about improving one's writing, that would suggest that one follow that distinction. As for Merriam-Webster, there have been several words (I wish I had them written down somewhere handy) that my family and I have discovered are just plain missing from that particular dictionary. And although they're not most people's everyday words, we're not talking really weird words, either. We quite often play Scrabble at family get-togethers, and we're quite competitive, so we always look up words we don't recognize (especially words played by my brother, whose IQ is considerably higher than the rest of ours). We used to use Webster, but after my brother contested the dictionary enough times, we decided to get a more reliable source. According to Oxford, out of all the times he questioned Webster, my brother was right every time. Kind of annoying now that I think about it.

sparent
sparent

The concise Oxford would also support your claim of pronounceable, but not Merriam-Webster. As for your Wikipedia excerpt, it is followed by the following paragraph. "In English, acronyms pronounced as words may be a 20th-century phenomenon. Linguist David Wilton in Word Myths: Debunking Linguistic Urban Legends claims that "forming words from acronyms is a distinctly twentieth- (and now twenty-first-) century phenomenon." Notice the "acronyms pronounced as words" and "forming words from acronyms" definitely imply that acronyms existed before we applied the notion of pronunciation to them. It may be that some groups chose to simply add on this characteristic instead of finding a new name for this new breed of acronyms. (I can't understand why they did not, given that we now have the dubious backronyms and macronyms. Yeesh!)

awgiedawgie
awgiedawgie

I guess it would all depend on how proficient your writers were. If they were poor authors, you very well could be a damaging editor :)

JodyGilbert
JodyGilbert

My favorite Freudian typo: When I was newly promoted to be managing editor of a magazine years back, I caught myself [proudly] mistyping my title -- Damaging Editor. Inauspicious, much? :>

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

In many cases, it's much more accurate than manager.

JodyGilbert
JodyGilbert

Deprived, indeed! We should build a list of those types of mistypes. The one I see most is "IT manger."

tiger48
tiger48

Read as much as you can, great variety(comic books to Shakespeare, foreign languages), as high a level as you can.

rocketmouse
rocketmouse

"One of the best ways to learn good writing techniques is to read good writing." Yes! If you want an example of good technical writing look at one of Topher Kessler's articles (blogs.) He may throw in a few superfluous "that"'s but they in no way impede the reading, only serve to clarify. All in all, his writing is lucid. Another good technical writer is Fred Langa, who writes for "Windows Secrets" these days. Disclaimer: I don't know either man, I only admire their writing.

santeewelding
santeewelding

Choose differently. Gets me earned the label, "cryptic", from those out in the open, scrambling to be "correct" and confined in their own way.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

My habit has been to use 'but' to introduce a phrase that qualifies or limits the original phrase: "Practice makes perfect, but only if your practice is perfect." I use 'however' when I wish to introduce a negative connotation related to the original subject. "The murals in Pompei are beautiful; however, the walls behind them are falling down." That's just me. You may choose differently.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

then use a reference noun afterward: Accounting firm Dewey, Cheetum, and Howe announced today that the partnership will be moving its offices from the current location to a newly constructed building on Goa Way.

SJ Hartung
SJ Hartung

Before one decides how to write it, it is a good idea to think about how it would sound if read aloud. The plural treatment (D, C, and H are moving) sounds fine, but the singluar treatment (D, C, and H is moving) sounds awkward. If it will be read aloud, and it is necessary to treat the company name as a singular entity, I preface it with "The firm of" or "The company" or something similar. Example: The firm of Dewey, Cheetum, and How is moving to its new building today.

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