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Welcome to Ubiquity’s Communication Corner

The Communication Corner is dedicated to helping you better write and speak about your professional specialty. It is a monthly feature, programmed to help you progressively acquire the skills of professional writers and speakers.

Each monthly installment will have three parts: An essay on a fundamental aspect of effective writing or speaking, a do-it-yourself exercise to help you practice the topic being discussed, and an invitation to submit your exercise for a possible (but not guaranteed) commentary on your draft.

Philip Yaffe, a retired journalist for the Wall Street Journal and a member of the Ubiquity editorial board, is the moderator of the Communication Corner.

We invite you to subscribe via the signup box at the left.  We will send you announcements of new installments of the Communication Corner, approximately once a month.

Readers who subscribe will be able to download a free PDF copy of Philip Yaffe's book The Gettysburg Approach to Writing & Speaking like a Professional.

Communication Corner

  • How to get the most from your word processor

    Each "Communication Corner" essay is self-contained; however, they build on each other. For best results, before reading this essay and doing the exercise, go to the first essay "How an Ugly Duckling Became a Swan," then read each succeeding essay.

    The personal computer has revolutionized how we work, and that's all because of software development. One of the most important of which is word processing. Since the 1970s word processing has created efficiencies in writing and editing. This article explains how word processors can make you a better thinker.

  • How spelling reform would promote better writing and speaking

    Each "Communication Corner" essay is self-contained; however, they build on each other. For best results, before reading this essay and doing the exercise, go to the first essay "How an Ugly Duckling Became a Swan," then read each succeeding essay.

    Instead of mastering the chaos of learning to read and write in English, perhaps we should start spelling things the way they sound.

  • The purpose of punctuation

    Each "Communication Corner" essay is self-contained; however, they build on each other. For best results, before reading this essay and doing the exercise, go to the first essay "How an Ugly Duckling Became a Swan," then read each succeeding essay.

    Language is ever changing as geographic boundaries morph and populations age. So-called grammar rules can often be arbitrary. Good writing sometimes means using punctuation and sometimes not.

  • Active voice, active writing

    Each "Communication Corner" essay is self-contained; however, they build on each other. For best results, before reading this essay and doing the exercise, go to the first essay "How an Ugly Duckling Became a Swan," then read each succeeding essay.

    Knowing when to write in the active or passive voice can fundamentally improve your work, but understanding how to use either can be tricky. Keep reading to learn the difference.

  • Why clear communication means aiming for the lowest common denominator---and then some

    Each "Communication Corner" essay is self-contained; however, they build on each other. For best results, before reading this essay and doing the exercise, go to the first essay "How an Ugly Duckling Became a Swan," then read each succeeding essay.

    If you say something the audience doesn't understand, you will lose some (if not all) of their attention---especially when discussing complex subjects. Limiting the assumptions you make about your readers' level of understanding is a key element to good writing.