Sticking to outdated grammar rules could be getting in the way of your business writing, says trainer Fred Kniggendorf.
For starters, Kniggendorf says ignore these four grammar rules:
1. Never end a sentence with a preposition. The bottom line is everyone does it, unless they’re in academia. For example, most people would say, “Do you have something to write with?” versus “Do you have something with which to write?”
Avoid ending with a preposition when the preposition isn’t needed. Example: “Where is the car at?”
2. Always indent five spaces. Some people indent, while others double-space between paragraphs and make them flush left. It depends on what you and your organization prefer.
3. Put a comma before “and” when you have items in a series. Example: “Bob, Jill, Harry, Chris, and Mark were at the meeting.”
“It’s your choice” whether to use the comma, Kniggendorf says. “You pick one and commit. If you do it, do it all the time.”
4. Don’t use contractions. These days, contractions are part of our natural speech. To omit them entirely would sound unnatural, which is the last thing business writing should be.
Tip: Create a style guide for your organization to serve as the arbiter on style and grammar matters. Structure your stylebook using section headings.
Example: acronyms and abbreviations, capitalization, numerals, grammar, punctuation, Internet guidelines and those that relate to your industry. Post the stylebook on your organization’s intranet, so others can search online by word or phrase. Use it to settle disputes or to clear up confusion.