How to Say It, Third Edition: Choice Words, Phrases, Sentences, and Paragraphs for Every Situation

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9780735204379: How to Say It, Third Edition: Choice Words, Phrases, Sentences, and Paragraphs for Every Situation

?For anyone who has ever stared at a blank page or screen?(Kaylene Weiser, organized consultant, The Wiser Way)? the revised third edition of the bestseller that offers ?a crisp, elegant way to say everything.?(Vivian Jenkins Nelson, founder, The International Institute for Interracial Interaction)

The ?exceptional, wonderful, amazing?(Vivian Jenkins Nelson, founder, The International Institute for Interracial Interaction) book that has sold nearly one million copies!


How to Say It® provides clear and practical guidance for what to say?and what not to say?in any situation. Covering everything from business correspondence to personal letters, this is the perfect desk reference for anyone who often finds themselves struggling to find those perfect words for:

? Apologies and sympathy letters
? Letters to the editor
? Cover letters
? Fundraising requests
? Social correspondence, including invitations and Announcements

This new edition features expanded advice for personal and business emails, blogs, and international communication.

"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.

About the Author:

Rosalie Maggio is the award-winning author of eighteen books. She is a member of the Authors Guild and the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Table of Contents

 

Title Page

Copyright Page

Dedication

Acknowledgements

Introduction

 

ONE - ACCEPTANCES

TWO - ACKNOWLEDGMENTS AND CONFIRMATIONS

THREE - LETTERS OF ADJUSTMENT

FOUR - ADVICE

FIVE - ANNIVERSARIES AND BIRTHDAYS

SIX - ANNOUNCEMENTS

SEVEN - APOLOGIES

EIGHT - LETTERS OF APPLICATION

NINE - APPOINTMENTS AND INTERVIEWS

TEN - LETTERS OF APPRECIATION

ELEVEN - BELATED LETTERS

TWELVE - COLLECTION LETTERS

THIRTEEN - COMPLAINTS

FOURTEEN - CONGRATULATIONS

FIFTEEN - LETTERS THAT SERVE AS CONTRACTS

SIXTEEN - COVER LETTERS

SEVENTEEN - LETTERS ABOUT CREDIT

EIGHTEEN - LETTERS OF DISAGREEMENT

NINETEEN - LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

TWENTY - E-MAIL

TWENTY-ONE - LETTERS DEALING WITH EMPLOYMENT

TWENTY-TWO - LETTERS TO FAMILY AND FRIENDS

TWENTY-THREE - FAXED LETTERS

TWENTY-FOUR - FOLLOW-UP LETTERS

TWENTY-FIVE - FUNDRAISING LETTERS

TWENTY-SIX - “GET WELL” LETTERS

TWENTY-SEVEN - GOODWILL LETTERS

TWENTY-EIGHT - HOLIDAY LETTERS

TWENTY-NINE - LETTERS OF INSTRUCTION

THIRTY - LETTERS OF INTRODUCTION

THIRTY-ONE - INVITATIONS

THIRTY-TWO - LOVE LETTERS

THIRTY-THREE - MEMOS

THIRTY-FOUR - LETTERS TO NEIGHBORS

THIRTY-FIVE - LETTERS DEALING WITH ORDERS

THIRTY-SIX - LETTERS RELATED TO ORGANIZATIONS AND CLUBS

THIRTY-SEVEN - QUERY LETTERS

THIRTY-EIGHT - REFERENCES AND RECOMMENDATIONS

THIRTY-NINE - REFUSALS

FORTY - REPORTS AND PROPOSALS

FORTY-ONE - REQUESTS AND INQUIRIES

FORTY-TWO - RESPONSES

FORTY-THREE - RÉSUMÉS

FORTY-FOUR - SALES LETTERS

FORTY-FIVE - SENSITIVE LETTERS

FORTY-SIX - LETTERS OF SYMPATHY

FORTY-SEVEN - THANK-YOU LETTERS

FORTY-EIGHT - LETTERS RELATED TO TRAVEL

FORTY-NINE - WEDDING CORRESPONDENCE

FIFTY - LETTERS OF WELCOME

APPENDIX I - MECHANICS

APPENDIX II - CONTENT

INDEX

PRENTICE HALL PRESS
Published by the Penguin Group
Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, USA
Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario M4P 2Y3, Canada
(a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.)
Penguin Books Ltd., 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England
Penguin Group Ireland, 25 St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2, Ireland (a division of Penguin Books Ltd.)
Penguin Group (Australia), 250 Camberwell Road, Camberwell, Victoria 3124, Australia
(a division of Pearson Australia Group Pty. Ltd.)
Penguin Books India Pvt. Ltd., 11 Community Centre, Panchsheel Park, New Delhi—110 017, India
Penguin Group (NZ), 67 Apollo Drive, Rosedale, North Shore 0632, New Zealand
(a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd.)
Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty.) Ltd., 24 Sturdee Avenue, Rosebank, Johannesburg 2196, South Africa

 

Penguin Books Ltd., Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

 

While the author has made every effort to provide accurate telephone numbers and Internet addresses at the time of publication, neither the publisher nor the author assumes any responsibility for errors, or for changes that occur after publication. Further, the publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.

 

Copyright © 2009 by Rosalie Maggio

 

All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. Purchase only authorized editions.

PRENTICE HALL PRESS is a trademark of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

 

 

 

The Library of Congress has cataloged the revised and expanded edition as follows:

 

Maggio, Rosalie.
How to say it : choice words, phrases, sentences, and paragraphs for every situation / by Rosalie Maggio.—Rev. and expanded.
p. cm.

eISBN : 978-1-101-02916-9

1. Letter writing. 2. English language—Rhetoric. I. Title.
PE1483.M26 2001
806.6—dc21
2001036014

 

 

Most Prentice Hall Press books are available at special quantity discounts for bulk purchases for sales promotions, premiums, fund-raising, or educational use. Special books, or book excerpts, can also be created to fit specific needs. For details, write: Special Markets, Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.

To DAVID
Liz, Katie, Jason
Matt, Nora, Zoe

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

Thank you to those who shared their letters and opinions with me: Shelley Sateren; Steve Sikora; Mark Maggio; Dr. Matt Maggio; Patrick Maggio, Esq.; Frank Maggio; Terry Hay Maggio; Mary Maggio; Dr. Paul T. Maggio; Kevin Maggio, Esq.; Irene Nash Maggio; Dr. Paul J. Maggio; Mike Maggio, Esq.; Michael Parker; Bonnie Z. Goldsmith, Patricia Yeager and the Denver Center for Independent Living; Nick Niemeyer; Sheila Hanley and The Dublin Walk; Maggie Parr; Jazzou Jones; Dr. Greg Filice; Katherine King; Debbye Calhoun Spang; Irmiter Contractors and Builders Limited; Jeanne Goerss Novak; and Ben Baughman.

Many of the sentences, paragraphs, and letters are taken from letters I’ve saved over the years (imagine rummaging through boxes and boxes of them in the attic looking for that great thank-you note). Thanks and love to all my favorite correspondents. You know who you are.

I’m still grateful to Tom Power, the genial and gifted godfather of this book. And many thanks to Maria Gagliano, who gave it new life.

INTRODUCTION

All that is requisite to become proficient in any Art, is to know what to do and how to do it; and the Art of Letter-writing is no exception to this general rule.

—F. M. PAYNE, Payne’s Business Letter Writer and Book of Commercial Forms (1884)

 

 

How to Say It is a practical, easy-to-use book that tells you what to say and how to say it. Its flexible approach helps you fashion compelling letters in little more time than it takes to handwrite or type them.

Although an impressive amount of business and social interaction takes place today over the telephone and fax, by e-mail, or in person, the well-written letter remains a staple of business success and one of the strongest connecting links between human beings.

Most of us are capable of writing a satisfactory letter, but few of us have the time and mental energy to deal with the countless letters that life today seems to demand of us—especially since all of them should have been written yesterday.

How to Say It features comprehensive, versatile lists of words, phrases, sentences, and paragraphs that allow you to express yourself on any subject in your own voice and style.

Thesaurus-like, these lists provide you with terms relating to your topic. Whether you want to sound formal or casual, traditional or contemporary, businesslike or lighthearted, distant or intimate, you’ll find here the words for every letterwriting occasion—from powerful, cogent business letters to warm, sensitive personal letters.

An important message of this book, delivered indirectly in its pages, is that there is rarely “one right way” to write a letter. You may follow, adapt, or ignore the guidelines given here; after all, you know more about your message and your reader than any letterwriting manual. Except for someone like Napoleon, who apparently wrote more than 50,000 letters in his lifetime (and nobody ever said to him, “Get a life!”), almost everyone can use this book to write letters with increased speed, individuality, success—and enjoyment!

HOW TO USE THIS BOOK

Begin by skimming the table of contents to familiarize yourself with the fifty letter topics available to you (for example, sales letters, thank-you notes, references, apologies, acknowledgments, letters dealing with employment).

Next, flip through the appendixes so that you know what kind of help waits for you there: Appendix I deals with the mechanics of letterwriting (what kind of stationery to use, how to address an envelope, the four most common ways of setting up a letter on the page) while Appendix II deals with the content of your letter (writing tips, grammar and usage, frequently misspelled or confused words, redundant words and phrases, correct forms of address).

To find advice about the letter you want to write, either turn to the chapter that deals with that kind of letter or check the index in the back of the book. Its one thousand entries ensure that you will find the help you need.

Each chapter includes a brief introduction, a list of occasions for writing that type of letter, what to include in each letter, what not to say, comments on special situations, and what format to use.

At the heart of each chapter are the lists of words, phrases, sentences, and paragraphs you can use to construct your letter. Sample letters are also given.

The lists “prime the pump”—they start you thinking along the lines of that letter topic. They also provide those who want to compose their own letter with a number of appropriate words, or they allow those using the sample letters as guides to substitute words that fit their needs.

To compose a letter:

· Read through the “How to Say It” section, note the elements your letter should include, and personalize them to reflect your situation.

· Choose from the lists of words, phrases, sentences, and paragraphs those terms that are useful to you.

· Study the sample letters to see if one can serve as a model.

· Combine your checked-off words, phrases, sentences, and paragraphs to produce a letter that says what you need it to say.

· Check your rough draft against the list of what not to say. Have you written something inappropriate? At this point, you may have a question about format or grammar or a social title. Check the index to locate the answer in one of the appendixes.

After writing your first few letters using this book, you may find that it is not, after all, so difficult or time-consuming to write your share of the billions of letters mailed each year.

ONE

ACCEPTANCES

The mind gives us thousands of ways to say no, but there’s only one way to say yes, and that’s from the heart.

—SUZE ORMAN

 

 

Once you decide to accept an invitation or grant a request, simply say so; this is one of the easiest letters to write.

A yes that doesn’t come from the heart results in an unenthusiastic acceptance and you may even find yourself backing out later. Writing the acceptance is not as difficult as being sure you want to say yes in the first place.

Write Acceptances for

· admissions requests: schools/clubs/organizations

· franchise applications

· invitations: dinner/meeting/party/luncheon/hospitality

· job offers

· membership offers: board/commission/organization

· proposals

· requests: contributions/favors/help

· speaking invitations: conference/workshop/banquet

· wedding invitations (see WEDDINGS)

How to Say It

· Express your pleasure in accepting the invitation/offer/proposal/bid or agreeing to do what was asked.

· Repeat the details of what you are accepting (meeting date and time, amount of the bid or of your contribution, the precise nature of your assistance, the duties you agree to assume).

· Inquire about particular needs: receipt for a tax-deductible contribution, directions to your host’s home, wheelchair accessibility, equipment for your speech, list of other organizers.

· Close with an expression of pleasure to come (seeing the person, working for the company, being part of the group) or of future action (what you want to accomplish, actions you intend to take, a reciprocal invitation).

What Not to Say

· Avoid ungracious amplifications: you are busy but you suppose you can manage it; you have two other events on the calendar that evening but you will try to stop by; you probably won’t be a good speaker but, sure, you’ll try. Let your yes be a simple yes. If you have reservations about your acceptance, it may be better to decline.

Tips on Writing

· Send acceptances as soon as possible. If you are late, apologize, but do not dwell on it.

· Acceptances are brief and generally deal only with the acceptance.

· Noted usage expert Rudolf Flesch says, “If your answer to an inquiry is yes, it’s a good idea to make yes the first word of your letter.”

· Be enthusiastic. It is entirely proper to simply state your acceptance and repeat the details of the invitation, but your stock with hosts, employers, or friends will go up if you add a sentence saying something personal, cheerful, or lively.

· When your invitation is issued in the name of more than one person, mention all of them in your reply. Mail your reply either to the person listed under the RSVP or to the first name given.

· Always respond promptly to an invitation marked “RSVP” or “Please reply.” This is mandatory, obligatory, required, compulsory, imperative, and essential.

Special Situations

· When offered a position you want, write an acceptance letter that expresses your enthusiasm and pleasure and that confirms the details of your employment.

· When writing to offer a job to an applicant, include: a congratulatory remark about being chosen and something complimentary about the person’s credentials, experience, or interview; information about the job—duties, salary, supervisor’s name, starting date; the name and telephone number of someone who can answer questions; an expression of goodwill about the person’s employment with the company. Highlight some of the advantages of working for the company to influence the person’s decision to accept the offer.

· In some situations (large weddings, for example), one of a couple may accept an invitation while the other declines. In other cases (large dinner parties), check with your host to see if this is acceptable.

· White House invitations include the phone number of the Social Office where you telephone your acceptance and can ask questions about protocol, where to park your car, what to wear, how to respond to the invitation. General guidelines are: send your reply within a day of receiving the invitation; write the reply yourself (do not have a secretary do it); handwrite your reply on plain or engraved personal stationery; use the same format and person (first person or third person) to reply but insert “have the honor of accepting”; if the invitation was sent by the President’s or First Lady’s secretary (in the case of an informal invitation), reply to that person and write “Would you please tell/convey to . . .”

· Children can write brief acceptances for invitations: “Thank you for inviting me to your ...

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