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Kimberly Largent, aka Persnickety Editor

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Posted by Kimberly Largent, aka Persnickety Editor   Oct 17, 2019 7:30:00 AM

I recently stumbled upon material on business writing that was written by Minerva Heller Neiditz and published in 1993. Although the material needs some minor updating, I was surprised that much of it still applies today in business writing. Neiditz, who is presently 87 years old, wrote this book when she was 61. She’s written several books since; her most recent was published when she turned 85. Neiditz has a varied background that includes advanced degrees, politics, activism, professor, wife, mother, writer, and world traveler. But this is not the complete list.

Her book “Business Writing at Its Best” (Irwin Professional Pub, 1993) is filled with commonsense material on how to write effective business correspondence. If you struggle with writing simple, effective business correspondence, take a page from the Neiditz business-writing playbook. Here are some highlights of her material. (The below outline is not verbatim from her book, and my comments are enclosed in brackets.)

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Topics: business writing, business communications

Answers to Last Week's Thursday Challenge

Posted by Kimberly Largent, aka Persnickety Editor   Sep 19, 2019 7:30:00 AM

So, how'd you do?

Perhaps after reading last week’s Sheryl’s She Shed blog challenge, you’ve had the opportunity to actually see the commercial on TV. If so, would you agree there’s something suspect about Victor’s indifferent response regarding the lightning strike? There are many theories circulating social media as to Victor’s role in the burning down of Sheryl’s she-shed. Do you have a humorous take on what might have happened? If so, we’d enjoy hearing from you. Let your imagination run wild and post your ideas below in the comments section.

Wow, as you can see, we received a range of answers to this challenge.

There are 31 wrong words, and as many of you pointed out, “chichi-er” could have simply been “chichier.” Inserting the hyphen was my mistake; I put my faith in material I read on the internet concerning “chichi,” instead of looking up the word in Merriam-Webster. Lesson learned? Just because it’s on the internet doesn’t make it correct!

We were initially looking for 31 wrong words; however, if you guessed 31 OR 32, we accepted you as a winner, since many of you included “chichi-er,” which took the total to 32.

Here is the list the first five people who answered correctly from the challenge we assigned our readers. Congratulations!  We'll be in touch with each of you.

  • Tara Bann
  • Deborah Baron
  • Amy
  • Desmond Ballance
  • Andrea Isiminger

If you're one of the winners, please send your email address to so we can send your gift to you.

And for those of you who guessed over or under in the number of mistakes, here’s the answer key. All mistakes are highlighted in yellow.Thanks to everyone who participated!

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Topics: common mistakes, misused words, common proofreading mistakes

Thursday Challenge

Posted by Kimberly Largent, aka Persnickety Editor   Sep 12, 2019 7:30:00 AM

I rarely watch TV. But when I do, I watch only those shows that I’ve DVR’d — because I abhor commercials. My always-editing brain can shred to pieces commercial scripts and have fresh copy mentally written before the commercial concludes. I exaggerate, of course.

There is one commercial, however, that I’ve become humored by and tolerant of — because it’s snappy, funny and creative. It’s State Farm Insurance’s commercial featuring Victor and Sheryl, and Sheryl’s She-Shed. Are you familiar with it? If not, you can watch it on Youtube here.

If this commercial evolved into a sit-com, I’d watch — even the commercials! Because I’d want to know whether Victor intentionally sabotaged Sheryl’s she-shed so that he could claim the space for a man-cave — a place where he and all his buddies could gather on Saturdays to watch college football on a mega large-screen TV.

Below is a silly prequel to this specific commercial. And it’s filled with lots of incorrect words that sound like or look like the word that is actually meant. It’s up to you to read (carefully) and tally up the number of incorrect words used.

The first five readers to post the correct number (no more, no less) of incorrect words found in the text will receive a small gift from So, post your answer in the comments. There is a deadline though; only answers received before 5:00pm ET on Sept. 18, 2019 will be counted. AND your first answer counts; no fair going through and submitting more than one answer.

We’ll contact you if you’re a winner, and the answer key will be posted next week. Happy hunting! (The contest includes only the material below this line of text.)

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Topics: common mistakes

Ditch These Phrases from Your Business Communications

Posted by Kimberly Largent, aka Persnickety Editor   Aug 22, 2019 7:30:00 AM

Today, the Persnickety Editor is suggesting you ditch certain phrases from your writing. Review the sentences below and try to identify these oft-used phrases found in business communications that are wordy, awkwardly written, have no clear meaning, make you chuckle when you actually picture in your mind what is written, and simply don’t belong in a business communication. Caution: There could be more than one per sentence…

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Topics: business phrases to stop using

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