Thirteen Overused and Abused Expressions I’d Like to Outlaw

I recently came across an article about 115 forbidden words and expressions compiled by Randy Michaels, CEO of the Tribune Co.  The company owns the Chicago radio station WGN, and Michaels forbid radio anchors and reporters from using these words.  Among forbidden words and expressions are some that make me cringe as well. 5 a.m. in […]


Lessons From the Insurance Industry: You Don’t Need a Gecko to Set the Right Tone

We recently evaluated the correspondence of a major insurance company and its competitors. Using a benchmarking tool we developed, we rated their e-mails and letters to customers on seven Standards. One Standard that we carefully looked at was tone:  “Correspondence is written in a personal, professional tone.” While the topic of the correspondence frequently involved […]


“Attrit” or Death By Buzzword

I’ve spent the last two days attending (and speaking at) the ACCE Call Center Management Conference. I have heard lots of insightful presentations about providing excellent customer service and I’ve met some really intelligent and interesting people. It’s been a great event. And I have heard some buzzwords! Some buzzwords that are new to me […]


Is Using “and/or” in a Sentence Just Plain Dumb?

A colleague of mine—an expert online editor and web content manager—sent me this e-mail last week: Leslie – Can you give me some style guidance or a citation that says “using ‘and/or’ in a sentence is just plain dumb”? I was editing some web pages and ran across this construction at least four times. I […]


Proofreading Tips for Finding Errors in Your Own Writing

Reading the newspaper each day, I catch frequent errors in grammar and usage. It’s easy for me to find errors in newspapers—and, in general, in the writing of others. What’s hard is finding errors in my own writing. By the time I get to the proofreading stage, I’ve looked at the document so many times […]