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How to present yourself in writing

I want to bring up one of my pet peeves. This issue is absolutely
not directed at people for whom English is not a first language, as
I fully understand the difficulties involved in learning, and being
clear, in second languages. In our new, computer driven, chat
room-filled, speedy age it seems that most people, in a misguided
attempt to save time, have forgotten that what they put into
writing represents who, and what, they are. In today’s postings
there was an email from someone that was basically a job offer. In
it, not one capital letter appeared, and there was a series of
grammatical errors (starting in the subject line). I understand that
not everyone has a firm grasp of the English language, and I am also
fully aware that there are plenty of dyslexic people out there.
However what you write, in an email, a formal letter, a job
application, or a job offer is a representation of who you are and,
in this case, how you conduct your business. If someone sends me a
resume filled with misspellings and grammatical errors, I assume
immediately that they really don’t want the job, because they didn’t
care enough to proofread their work (or in the case of a dyslexic,
didn’t care enough to get a friend to proof their work). Because of
search machines like Google, everything that you write on the web is
accessible to anyone with the time to do a little research.
Consequently, everything you put in writing is always going to be
there as a representation of who you are. It only takes a few
minutes to go over your writings and make sure that they are error
free and at least reasonably grammatically correct. If you want
yourself, and your business, to be seen as careless, ill-informed,
and generally unknowledgeable then by all means just type away, and
please don’t hit that spell check button. I’m sure those who are
artists on list will claim artistic license. The rest of you should
spend a moment and look over your work. It says a great deal about
who you are.

Daniel R. Spirer, GG
Spirer Somes Jewelers
1794 Massachusetts Ave
Cambridge, MA 02140

However what you write, in an email, a formal letter, a job
application, or a job offer is a representation of who you are and,
in this case, how you conduct your business."  

Daniel, I couldn’t agree more and I applaud your willingness to say
it! I’ve wanted to do so many times in this and other forums, but
didn’t know how to do so without being offensive. So “bravo” to you
for speaking out and for expressing it so well!

Beth Rosengard


I couldn’t agree more with Beth and Daniel regarding the use of
spell check. So often I find that I loose the substance of what is
being said when I am distracted by the lack of editing for spelling
or grammar. Thank you for speaking to this, Daniel!

I also wish a speedy recovery for John Burgess, who is an invaluable
resource for all of us and also a treasured and well loved member of
our community.

With my very best regards,

Susan Ronan
Coronado, CA

Thank you Daniel for saying what I have been afraid to say! I have
so much trouble understanding some postings due to spelling errors
and/or lack of punctuation and/or lack of capitalization and/or
grammatical errors that I just skip them. The occasional
misspelling is understandable, but when a posting is so badly
garbled by errors that I can hardly understand what the person is
trying to communicate, I am left the impression they just don’t care
about who they are sending it to. I would not expect that kind of
lack of attention to detail from people who make jewelry. It makes
me wonder if their non-caring attitude extends to their work as

As Daniel says, this is in no way directed at those whose native
language is not English. Most of the worst offenders are clearly
American. This appears to be a problem in the corporate world as
well. In my last job the kind of writing I received from people at
all levels of the company was horrendous. One company director
apparently was just too lazy to ever use the shift key to produce
caps at the appropriate places. I always cringed when I say such
communications being sent to customers.

Show that you care (at least about how you look). Proofread!


sir: with all due respect, the interenet has changed the way people
communicate, and that includes grammer and usage. the way of writing
is indeed different, more akin to spoken language. some of us
respond to many different emails in a given sitting, and while the
internet is an incredible tool it is also the black hole of time…
it is a personal preference to use all lower case, not just a time
saving device. you make a good point about proofreading & spelling
errors, it bothers me too, your point is well taken.

and there was a series of grammatical errors (starting in the subject

by the way, i did not create the grammatically incorrect subject
line that appeared in the posting. that was added by someone at
ganoskin. my original line read simply “opportunity.”

april k

    sir: with all due respect, the interenet has changed the way
people communicate, and that includes grammer and usage. the way of
writing is indeed different, more akin to spoken language. 

Ah, but it is still writing, and still English. The written language
has not changed enough to accomodate nor tolerate improper writing,
improper spelling and improper grammar. Orchid, for all its
family-like atmosphere is still a business forum. It is not a casual
chat room where posts written entirely in small letters, and
abbreviations such as “brb” and “2” instead of “to” are considered
proper or correct ways of communication. Writing incorrectly and
excusing it as “the way things are done on the internet” is just
plain laziness, IMPO.

Donning my flameproof suit here,
–Kathy Johnson

All-lowercase writing is perfectly legible to me. I may notice a
lack of capitalization, but it commands my attention for a fraction
of a second (at most).

Re proofreading: I think we all proofread before posting, yet the
occasional error will slip by. Ever seen the optical illusion “Paris
in the the spring”? The brain automatically compensates for
missing/extra words and misspellings–after all, the usual goal of
reading is to comprehend the message, not to parse for errors. It
makes for less-than-perfect proofreading but, as we say in the
programming business, “That’s not a bug; it’s a feature!”

I do, however, appreciate good writing. I surely can’t be the only
one who has read The Elements of Style, and The Chicago Manual of
Style…for fun.

Bumper sticker:



Here, here Daniel In this computer age we have a handy little tool
called spell check. If people would just take a couple of moments to
set it up it will even correct a lot of capitalization problems. The
odd spelling error or wrong synonym is not at issue, nor is it the
people for whom English is not their native language (BTW they
usually spell correctly just some grammatical errors due to
differences in perspective of different languages.) because even if
we spell check, if the wrong word is used but is spelled correctly it
is not corrected. Though I am usually careful to be grammatically
correct and spell correctly, when in a hurry I sing the praises of
spell check. That is a vast improvement over the old typewriters. I
have spent a couple of hours just editing my custom dictionary so
that it knows the proper spelling of many minerals and names that are
not in the regular dictionary.

For those not familiar with it under Tools in the headings is an
option for spelling and grammar. Also under Tools is a heading for
Options where you can (as I do) set your Email/Word programs to
automatically do this with every document/email you send out. That
way you don’t even have to remember. Mine even underlines the
incorrect word as I type so I don’t even have to wait till the end.

Karen Bahr “the Rocklady” (@Rocklady) K.I.S. Creations
May your gems always sparkle.

I personally enjoy well-crafted prose as much as I enjoy a
well-crafted piece of jewelry. That being said, there are some
participants in this forum who’s craftsmanship in the jewelry arts
exceeds their linguistic skill. As this is a jewelry forum rather
than a writer’s forum, I have learned to look past the grammar,
spelling, etc, and seek the valuable content that their
contributions so often contain.

OTOH, language is more than a means of communication; words are in
part the symbols with which we think. The failure to communicate
one’s thoughts clearly and precisely is sometimes due to the
thoughts themselves not being clear and precise.

Lee Einer
Dos Manos Jewelry

Hello Kate and others

Aoccdrnig to a rseearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer
in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng
is  taht  the frist and lsat ltteer be at the rghit pclae. 

Check out this website
as it actually describes this phenomenon. Karen Bahr “the
Rocklady” ( Randolph Post

Writing is easy!
By Randolph Post

It’s really quite simple to present yourself in writing, and do so
with a flair that is both interesting and communicative.

Think about the way you design jewelry. Perhaps visual images of a
design idea thump around in your head for a few days, or a few weeks
if you are old like me. This design may evolve from the original
idea as it becomes more concrete, and perhaps more sophisticated to
your creative thinking.

Eventually, your design may make it onto paper, becoming a physical
illustration of what you have in mind. Over the course of time, you
may modify this as the concept becomes clearer to your creative
sense now that there is an image before your eyes. The lines become
more compelling to your own sense of style.

Some time later, the idea is translated into physicality, perhaps in
wax, or some other easy to work with medium (I really have no idea
what you people use, I am a writer by trade.)

This is then “played with” some more, until you sense that your
vision has been achieved (in my trade we call it “polishing.”) Now
you are ready to translate the result into precious metal, perhaps
embellishing it with gems that round out your concept into a work of
art that will both delight the eye of the viewer and cause him/her
to reach for a credit card or purchase order. The bottom line is
that the end result is the sum total of your own creative thought,
you have “forced through your vision” into reality.

Writing is much the same. First there is a dialogue in your head as
you express your ideas to yourself. These are mentally rewritten as
you clarify the point you wish to make, and the manner in which you
wish to express it. This can be done over a matter of hours (or days
etc. etc.) until you feel compelled to place your ideas on paper.

By this time, you should be able to sit at the keyboard, empty your
head of all conflicting thoughts, and just let it flow. Do not
concern yourself with typos, spelling, or grammar at this point;
just get it onto the page. This, like your jewelry design idea, is a
rough illustration.

What you have now is just like your paper or wax design, something
to be played with (or polished if you want to use writer’s jargon.)
And this is exactly what you do, you play with it (or polish it)
until you find that there is nothing left to change, modify, or
restructure. Along the way, spelling and grammar corrections should
be included. The end result is the sum total of your own creative
thought, you have “forced through your vision” into reality, just
like your jewelry designs.

The point to remember is: you have used the same process you always
use to create.

See how easy it is?

From: “Terri May”

This is a silly thread. I know that I read Orchid for
not for great literature. Now shall we get angry and intemperate
with our colleagues for the use of slang?

Loosen up. A bulletin board on the Internet is more easily compared
to a casual telephone conversation or a post-it note; both of which
are often communicated as linked fragments, not as correctly
expressed and grammatically correct sentences and paragraphs. Pick
your battles, and choose wisely.

That said, I believe the original post was something more about
business correspondence. I think that it was either a job offer, or
a response to an offer. In either case, it is totally to the
discretion of the writer as to how casual or formal, or how
spontaneous or pompous, the writer might wish to convey his/her
thoughts by the chosen writing style. If the recipient doesn’t like
it, that is the recipient’s problem; and I believe this is a matter
to be dealt with by it’s participants. If the correspondent wishes
to convey a spontaneous, carefree, “hip-to-the-internet” style, and
the recipient has more of a conservative, formal, "by-the-book"
style; well, they probably are not suited for an employment
relationship anyhow.

O please release me from the tedium of rants! (Guess I’ll just have
to stop reading them. Hmmm…what a concept…)


From: “Cynthia Wiig”

Hello All -

It’s been a long time since I’ve written to Orchid. Hope all is
well in John Burgess’ recovery. I’m so glad he can still type with
all lower case! Please keep typing, John, you are truly an amazingly
wonderful addition to Orchid!

Jewelers do tend to be very detail oriented - it is the nature of
our medium. I’m sure this quality carries over to the written word
for many readers. However, I totally agree with Kate Wolf. I would
hate to see individuals hesitate to write to Orchid - either with
or with questions because they are uncomfortable with the
written word.

And, yes, I agree with Daniel, that resumes and cover letters are
very important documents that warrant correct English and grammar.
Yes, everything we type here does go to the Orchid archives and yet,
I also agree with April’s comments - that email as a means of
communication is closer to “talking” than say, writing an article,
paper for school or a formal letter. And, yes, I do agree that having
correct spelling - especially of jewelry terms in the "subject"
header is important - especially for future searching of the
archives. Still, with the origin of this forum in Thailand, I’m
sure that the individuals that help Hanuman (and, many many thanks
for the long hours you all must spend on this forum!) must have
English as a second (or third language. English is very difficult -
many words that sound the same with different spellings and have very
different meanings. Spellcheck doesn’t help with that level of

It’s amazing how many times I have written something - spent time in
rereading it and press that “send” button and then, find a big
error! I have to be comfortable with “perfectly imperfect”.

I do feel that the focus of this forum is not for editing as we
read, but for sharing I especially would not want
individuals with English as their second or third language to be
intimidated to participate on Orchid. This is a global forum - and
Orchid is one of the most amazing experiences I have been fortunate
to be a part of. English was not one of my better subjects in
school. Writing a “Jewelry Journal” article for Lapidary Journal was
a real stretch for my writing abilities. It is very difficult to
describe how to hammer metal in words - with the sensitivity to
"feel" and “listen” to the sounds of the hammer blows. (I can’t
remember if I even mentioned that part of the process in the

As a moderate “techie” person - I get by with email, word documents,
excel and photoshop - but, I have no idea what some of these codes
mean, ie: HTH, IMPO, OTOH? Other than that, I don’t mind reading
lower case. I do appreciate when people add an extra space line
between paragraphs, because the Ganoksin receiving program
automatically runs all the text together unless there is an extra
space line between paragraphs.

In respect to those who are bothered by spelling errors, I am trying
to get in the habit of using spellcheck. Hey, I never knew that I
was spelling “wierd” wrong all my life. . . it’s weird! So,
spellcheck is fun, actually - but, it needs to become a habit. I
still forget to use it sometimes, and prefer not to have it on

Okay, yes, I am too wordy and I do use a lot of dashes when writing
email - definitely not, when writing a formal letter. I am really
fanatic for documents that warrant accuracy! I do know the code,
IMHO (in my humble opinion), and “imho”, email is actually closer to
talking. That is one of the phenomenons of email communication that
I find especially interesting - is to experience the "personalities"
through the text. Also, I love knowing where people are writing from
in our global community.

Aloha and best wishes for the holidays! Cynthia (in Honolulu)

p.s Hey, I just did spell check and it found no errors! Grammar
check would be another story, I’m sure! :slight_smile:

From: “Cynthia Wiig”

Okay - this is a perfect example of what my comments were trying to

p.s  Hey, I just did spell check and it found no errors!  Grammar
check would be another story, I'm sure!  :) 

I had just sent this comment in an email to Orchid and after
rereading it again just now, found the above gross grammatical error
in my message. Ironic, because it was even in a statement about
grammatical errors. (It was not an intentional error to make a

It probably should have read: “Hey, I just did spell check and it
didn’t find any errors!” or maybe, “and there were no errors”.

Oh well, I had already pressed the “send” button. Ordinarily, I
would just let it slide (along with all the other “errors” in my
original message) - but, because of the subject of this piece of
communication, I wanted to let whomever is reading it know that there
is a LOT of room for error in writing email. To me, it’s better to
just let a lot of the grammatical errors slide as long as the
is conveyed correctly. I sure don’t have enough time in
my day to keep editing. Speaking of time . . . it’s time to travel
on . . .

Have a productive December everyone . . .


From: “Annette Andres”


This gives me an opportunity to ask a question about an abbreviation
I see on some Orchid posts. What does the (Yak) stand for in the
subject line? Annette

From: “Patricia Hicks”

Perhaps if more people used the Archives and noticed that postings
are there from the beginning, now and ever shall be, for posterity,
they might feel just a little more inclined to make an effort at
correctness. Give it a try everyone . You’ll be amazed. Pat

From: “Christine Denayer”

Hi All, I just arrived in Belgium, still having a headache. I read
Daniel Spirer’s message and cannot resist to drop a note. Daniel, I
absolutely agree with you - we’re not talking about people here like
myself who’s first language is not English - I still find it hard, I
still make mistakes and I still hate it - but about people who think
they don’t have to respect punctuation and don’t use capitals.
Frankly, I think it’s a question of being lazy and disrespectful to
language, because, after all, what is the advantage of not using
punctuation or capitals? I do not know any details about this, but I
know that almost everywhere in the world, a lot of thesises are being
written about the question what the new media do to our language
skills and I believe that the picture - although double of course -
is ultimately quite gloomy. Call me a conservative if you want -
which would be the first time ever I think - but I would never engage
someone who’s letter or email is without correct punctuation. A
couple of years ago, a student wrote a thesis which I had to
evaluate. He absolutely refused to use any capitals, but he was an
anarchist and had come up with dozens and dozens of articles proving

  • completley incorrectly in my view - the link between conformism in
    authoritarian societies on the one hand and the use of ‘belles
    lettres’ in these societies - I let it go. For the rest, a sentence
    begins with a capital and ends with a period. Then another sentence
    begins, developing an argument or a message. Furthermore, any text is
    always an amalgam of many ‘texts’. Any change changes everything.
    This is easy to understand: suppose that you and me are in a room
    having a discussion. The discussion is recorded and subsequently
    typed out on a page without anything more. Now suppose that the
    discussion is typed out again, but this time the secretary adds
    like the one you can find in the text of a theatre piece
  • he sighs - long silence - gets nervous, etc. Now suppose you let
    these texts read by several people, asking them to explain what is
    going on. Their interpretation will differ according to the
    given. Now suppose that you will give the text with and
    without punctuation - the interpretation will differ again, due to
    all sorts of effects. I for example, will be inclined to take it less
    serious. Maybe I’m getting old - which could make sense on my
    birthday - but I believe that something like civilization is at stake
    in these matters. Bon, let’s eat - :. Best, Will