Business Captivate E-mail Language Rants Tools Uncategorized Writing

What’s Wrong with the Passive Voice?

Why do people use the passive voice? Engineers, scholars and business people alike use the passive voice on a daily basis – probably without even realizing it. So then, why is passive voice frowned upon and what exactly is it?

Simply put, passive voice is a style of writing that makes the object of the sentence the subject of the sentence. Sentences written in passive voice are structured so that the noun who performs the action is not the subject. Confused? Consider this illustration.

Sentence 1: I made a mistake (Active)
Sentence 2: Mistakes were made. (Passive)

Business E-mail Language Marketing Networking Tools Training Uncategorized Visual Aids Water Cooler Stuff Writing

MS Paint can be very useful

I used to take Microsoft Paint for granted. I saw it every once in a while in the Accessories folder when I was looking for the Calculator or Notepad but never really used it. Then I starting using screen capture programs at work to take screenshots for user guides, manuals, online helps, etc. When I was on my personal computer, I had no idea how to take a screenshot without a fancy program, and then I finally remembered Paint. Since then, I’ve used it for screenshots, creating and editing pictures/photos, and testing.

Business E-mail Language Process Tools Training Uncategorized Writing

How Documentation Can Create Trust

When you are a company dealing with your customers’ most valuable personal information, you need them to trust you. One easy way to do this is to have your documentation flawless (or close to it). Also, performing a test run with a small group of people before releasing it to the masses is a good idea. The group of people should be 3rd party users who can find the mistakes you can’t find (since you’ve read and reread the form 40 times and never want to see it again).

Business E-mail Uncategorized

John Hancock takes it to the web

In a quest to provide marketing information to my coworkers, I started doing some research on email signature etiquette.  I was very disappointed to find that almost every article on the subject is an angry tirade with little practical advice.  What’s more, many of them conflict with each other.  So I kept digging and came up with what I think are the keys to an appropriate email signature—presented here in calm, concise language.

Business E-mail Process Tools Uncategorized Writing

Do Your Homework!

Recently, I’ve been attending lots and lots of meetings. I like talking to people, learning, brainstorming, smiling, etc. One thing that has been pretty consistent though is that people are not doing their “homework”. Teachers didn’t talk about the importance of homework in our 17+ years of schooling for nothing.

Business E-mail Humor? Language Writing

A Quick, Easy Way to Save Bandwidth and Not Annoy People

As technical writers, we at Shoap Technical Services feel strongly about words. We feel they hold more power when chosen carefully and used with purpose.  We pride ourselves on only writing as much as needed to accurately convey a message, without allowing room for waste.

That’s why we reserve a very special type of hatred for one of those semi-universal annoyances of modern business culture: the e-mail footer disclaimer.  It should come as no surprise, then, that we took great pleasure in reading this Economist article explaining exactly how pointless these are. It all boils down to the fact that most of these disclaimers are unenforceable since they seek to impose contractual obligations in a unilateral way.

So please, please, save your bandwidth and mine.  Kill the disclaimers.