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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 write a corporate image brochure people will truly want to read

    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.

    Most companies and organizations of any size produce and distribute glossy brochures to enhance their image. Most such publications are largely a waste because they are seldom read, even by employees and members of these companies and organizations. But it doesn't have to be that way. Here is an approach to help ensure that such image brochures are actually worth the time and money expended on them.

  • Myths and realities of writing for the web

    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.

    It is often said that the advent of the World Wide Web has changed everything, including how people read texts and therefore how writers should write texts. Don't believe it. Good texts written for the web are essentially the same as good texts written for print.

  • How to excite reader interest

    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.

    Unless under duress, such as a school assignment or work assignment, people will read only what they want to. However, many will read at least the first couple lines before saying yes or no. Here are five techniques that greatly increase the chances they will say yes.

  • How to make a microcosm into a universe

    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.

    In general you can't get people to read something if they believe it is totally outside their domain of interest. Some will nevertheless read the first couple of lines to confirm what they believed that already knew. Here is a technique that could rapidly change their mind.

  • 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.