Jana Sosnowski reports:
"All reading response essays are an opportunity to develop an argument about a central theme in a text. Choosing an approach to your argument is the first step. To do this, focus on the literary elements of the work, including characterization, setting, description, tone, imagery and symbolism. When you are reading, pay attention to the writer's focus. If there is a particularly strong character who represents a theme, you might choose characterization and description as literary elements to support your argument. An analysis of a historical work might rely heavily on setting. Familiarize yourself with the writer's tools and keep them in mind as you read...Developing a thesis, or argument, is crucial for a successful reading response essay...[W]ith all types of comparison, the focus of your analysis should be on the writer's technique, rather than a summary of the writing. When you write your thesis, make sure that it contains a point with an argument. An easy way to test whether you have included an argument is to ask yourself whether someone could dispute your claim with his own evidence...The reading response essay lends itself well to a five-paragraph structure. Your first paragraph should provide background information on the author, a short description of the work of writing...and your thesis statement. Each of the three body paragraphs should focus on one particular aspect of the story, such as the author's technique, a character or the setting, to help support your assertion. The conclusion paragraph should summarize the points you bring up in your body paragraphs and tie them to your original thesis argument...One of the most important parts of your reading response essay is the evidence you use to support your argument. Evidence should be paraphrased from the original text with proper citation. Short passages may be quoted in a response essay along with citations. Each body paragraph should contain a topic sentence that clearly indicates how the evidence in that paragraph will support your argument. Use one or two pieces of evidence per paragraph. Write an analysis of one to two sentences for each piece of evidence. End with a concluding sentence that transitions into your next paragraph...Your analysis of your evidence is the most important part of your response essay. It is important that you do not simply restate your evidence or your thesis when constructing analysis. Instead, you should look to explain how the author's technique or use of a character, for example, adds to the theme conveyed. You may also draw outside comparisons or expand upon the evidence. In analysis, you might also write about whether or not you believe the author has achieved his goal...[I]t is important to conclude your response with a summation of your point. Your conclusion should include a basic overview of the points that you have made in your body paragraphs. Avoid bringing up any new ideas in your conclusion or adding any analysis not previously mentioned in your response."
How to Put Clauses in a Contract
David Carnes reports:
"Write a concise statement that illustrates exactly what purpose you want the contract clause to achieve. Write in plain English, not in 'legalese.'...Convert your statement into command language using the word 'shall.' The word 'shall' is a time-honored legal usage that indicates the presence of a legally-binding promise...Add legal definitions for ambiguous words or terms in a separate definitions section at the beginning of the contract...The presence of capitalized words alerts the reader to refer to the definitions sections in case of any doubt. Identify and correct ambiguities. For example, the word 'steal' is ambiguous and misleading because Company A could make digital copies of Company B's digital files, transfer them to a third party, and still claim that it did not 'steal' them because it did not deprive Company B of these files by erasing them. If Company B actually wants Company A to refrain from using or disclosing Company B's business secrets, this should be clearly stated. Research the legal background of the subject matter of a clause and revise the clause accordingly. For example, a clause should specify that Company A will not breach the clause by using or divulging information that Company B has already made public."
Wendel Clark reports:
"A competency statement is a way to highlight skills that you have acquired from different jobs and from nonwork experiences. When writing a competency statement, you should make sure to format it correctly by following a simple writing procedure. Review the job description for the position to which you are applying. The job description should highlight the competencies that the employer is looking for in a potential employee. Use these as a starting point to think of how they relate to your own competencies. Write down each of your competencies as a heading...Elaborate on each competency below the heading...by providing examples of your competency from your previous experiences...Complete each competency by explaining the outcome of your experiences...Provide details about specific accomplishments wherever possible...Remember to write your competency statement in the first person and to use action verbs."
Nicole Newman reports:
"Set the context by addressing the topic in a general manner. Include background information and explicate the debate. Review the topic and explain why it is important...Present a concise thesis statement. Transition into the body of the essay with a logical, clear progression. Summarize the ideas presented in the introductory section...Limit each paragraph in the body of the essay to one main idea. Connect the body of each paragraph to your thesis statement. Provide at least three detailed examples per paragraph that explain why the evidence supports the thesis. Discuss opposing viewpoints of each paragraph's main idea. Explain how the opposing arguments do not align with your thesis (rather than dismissing them outright). Consider the other points of view when collecting anecdotal and statistical evidence. Overcome objections by covering both sides of the issue. Consider arguments against your thesis. Signal refutations with transition words such as 'but,' 'however,' or 'although.' Synthesize the information to leave a lasting impression on the reader. Link the last paragraph to the introduction and reiterate a key word or phrase used in the beginning. Conclude with a quotation from a primary reference, redefine a key term, or set your argument in a larger context by demonstrating how your paper falls within a larger area of concern or by posing further questions...Proofread carefully for grammar and spelling errors...Double-check your source information and documentation."
Jenna Marie reports:
"You are entitled to get your security deposit refunded from your landlord, assuming you met all the requirements for moving out. This includes giving proper notice and leaving the rental property clean and undamaged...A deposit letter to a landlord must clearly state why the security deposit must be refunded to you. Once you've written the letter, remember to keep a signed copy for yourself...Place the date, the landlord's full name and his address at the top of the letter. If the landlord has a business address for property management purposes, use that address instead of a home address. Add a simple salutation...Let the landlord know that you were a tenant at his rental property, by giving the property address and the exact dates for when you lived there. Remind the landlord that you gave proper notice when you vacated the rental unit and left it clean and in good condition...Point out that you have not yet received your deposit refund...In lieu of a deposit refund, landlords must furnish an itemized list of damages, plus copies of receipts for repairs and cleaning. Mention that you have received neither of these...Write that you would like to avoid legal proceedings to recover the deposit money and that he can send funds to your new address. Provide the new address in the letter. State that you should receive the funds within 10 days or you will have no choice but to take the next step toward recovering your deposit...Sign your name to the letter, then make a copy for your records. Send the letter through certified mail so you can ensure the landlord received it and verify what day it was delivered. These documents are important if you end up in small claims court...Consider including copies of photos of the rental property right after you moved out, or include copies of witness statements that state you left the property in good condition...If the landlord still won't refund your deposit, even after receiving this letter, you will need to file a claim in small claims court. Prepare to prove that you left the apartment in good condition and the landlord has no reason to keep your deposit."
Bonnie Conrad reports:
"Opening a consignment store can be an excellent business move for the right individual, but before you open your doors you need to know how to write a business plan for a consignment shop. The business plan defines the scope of your business, lays out how you are prepared to succeed and details the relevant experience you bring to the new venture...Microsoft Office has some excellent templates available for free downloads. Other popular office suites also include templates that can be customized to create business plans. If you wish to complete your business plan the old-fashioned way, you can obtain business plan templates from your local Chamber of Commerce or from the Small Business Administration office in your area. Financial books at the library and bookstore are also good sources of business plan information and examples...Make a list of your experience in the retail business. You can make this list mentally, but it is often helpful to get it down on paper. Include all experience you have with buying and selling the type of items you plan to offer at your consignment store, including time spent as a sales clerk or buyer...[The executive summary] should state the purpose of the business, including the proposed name of the operation. The section that follows should state how the store will differentiate itself from the competition, that is, what makes your consignment store different from the thrift store down the street. Offering types of products not normally found in the second-hand market can be a big help...How will you advertise your consignment store? What techniques do you plan to use? It is important for lenders and others who review your business plan to see how you intend to market your business and introduce it to the community...Provide information about the ownership of the new business, including the names and titles of all business partners and officers. Also provide a brief but thorough overview of the start-up company. The overview should include details about the products the store will sell, where it will get its merchandise and where it will be located. List your management experience, focusing on experience that is relevant to the consignment business world. List the number of years of management and relevant retail experience you bring to the new enterprise...List the types of products the consignment store will offer...Provide a brief overview of the products you already have in stock, as well as your plans for obtaining quality merchandise on consignment...Include information on any market analysis you have completed, including details about any existing consignment stores. Compare your new business model to the stores that already exist in the community, and explain how your operation will improve on that model...Provide relevant financial information for your start-up company, including any partnership arrangements you have entered into and any loans you have obtained. Attach statements from your CPA or accountant if applicable."
Ana Petty reports:
"You've completed your general and prerequisite courses along with those pertinent to your major. Finally, you see graduation and the beginning of a career on the horizon. The next phase is landing the post-graduation job. To get a jump on other graduates, sending a resume out before commencement is both proactive and practical. Potential employers may be impressed by your ambition and you will get a realistic sense of professional prospects and the actual work environment. Check your graduation status. Make sure your college credits and degree requirements match your anticipated graduation date. Typically, colleges require students to apply for graduation. Once the application is made, advisers pour over transcripts looking for any outstanding issues that might preclude graduation. Prepare your resume. In the education portion of your resume, after the name of your university or college, list your intended degree. If graduation is near, you may want to use the word 'Pending' along with the commencement date. If graduation is further down the line, you may want to use the word 'Expected' with the projected commencement date. Place a comma following the name of your college or university and before degree-related information...Proofread your resume. Comb over it with painstaking detail. Pass the resume to another trustworthy set of eyes. If possible, try to have several associates proof your resume. When potential employers consider job applicants, a flawless resume is essential...If you lack work experience in your chosen field, take an internship or two...Unpaid internships are often less competitive and often easier to secure. If you are completing a degree after acquiring work experience, you may want to list work experience first. Adding work experience to your pending degree lends extra credibility to your resume, making you a better candidate for the job...Do not be dishonest on your resume. A potential employer can easily validate your college enrollment and academic progress by checking your references."
Chuck Brown reports:
"Building reports are written to help prospective buyers make an informed purchase decision. Some buyers may not be savvy enough to know where structural problems hide, and how these needed repairs affect the potential total expenditure for any property. The building report should present a snapshot of the inspection results. This snapshot must point out any existing buyer risks related to the quality or condition of the building. Write a summary of the overall condition of the building. Make this summary short, no longer than three or four sentences, and easy to read. Leave out any builder/construction words which the general public may not be familiar with. Use simple, everyday language that does not need to be explained to be understood by the reader. Estimate and write down the costs of the repairs the building needs. Enter these estimates under their appropriate sections as you write your report. Divide your building report into short sections with headings. Create the sections and headings for the main parts of the building...Start from the bottom of the building and work your way up, or vice[-]versa. Use clear, well-focused pictures at every point of your narrative, especially those problem areas you will detail. Describe the condition of the building foundation. Point out any cracks or evidence of water damage you have found. Give exact locations so the readers can go directly to the area you reference and see it for themselves. Do the same for any unevenness you may find, as this can be a serious settling issue. Note that settling issues can mean that the building was constructed on poor-quality soil. Record the condition of the exterior walls next in your building report. Mention any warping and straightness issues you see. Take the condition of the plumbing into account as you write your description of the walls. Inspect and describe the plumbing and write down any wet spot locations. Write your analysis of the condition of the roof next. Describe and locate for the reader of your report both the nature of the roof problem, if any, and its location. Note any damaged rafters and roof joists you found. Write down the condition of the roof decking you inspected from the attic. Estimate and write down the remaining roof life, if the age of the roof is not available...Use plenty of pictures to prove your assertions. Be thorough but concise when writing your building reports...Only recommend contractors whom you trust to make any needed repairs. Be selective with your recommendations; they are a direct reflection upon you and your business."
Lee Masterson reports:
"Micro-Fiction (up to 100 words): This very abbreviated story is often difficult to write, and even harder to write well, but the markets for micro[-]fiction are becoming increasingly popular in recent times. Publishers love them, as they take up almost no room and don't cost them their budgets. Pay rates are often low, but for so few words, the rate per word averages quite high...Flash Fiction (100 - 1,000 words): This is the type of short-short story you would expect to find in a glossy magazine...Very popular, quick and easy to write, and easier to sell! Short Story (1,000 - 7,500 words): The 'regular' short story, usually found in periodicals or anthology collections. Most 'genre' zines will [feature] works at this length. Novellette (7,500 - 20,000 words): Often a novellette-length work is difficult to sell to a publisher. It is considered too long for most publishers to insert comfortably into a magazine, yet too short for a novel. Generally, authors will piece together three or four novellette-length works into a compilation novel. Novella (20,000 - 50,000 words): Although most print publishers will balk at printing a novel this short, this is almost perfect for the electronic publishing market length. The online audience doesn't always have the time or the patience to sit through a 100,000[-]word novel. Alternatively, this is an acceptable length for a short work of non-fiction. Novel (50,000 [- ]110,000 words): Most print publishers prefer a minimum word count of around 70,000 words for a first novel, and some even hesitate for any work shorter than 80,000. Yet any piece of fiction climbing over the 110,000[-]word mark also tends to give editors some pause. They need to be sure they can produce a product that won't over-extend their budget, but still be enticing enough to readers to be saleable. Imagine paying good money for a book less than a [quarter of an inch] thick? Epics and Sequels (Over 110,000 words): If your story extends too far over the 110,000[-word] mark, perhaps consider where you could either condense the story to only include relevant details, or lengthen it to span out into a sequel, or perhaps even a trilogy. (Unless, of course, you're Stephen King - then it doesn't matter what length your manuscript is - a publisher is a little more lenient with an established author who has a well-established readership[.]) Page Counts: In most cases, industry standard preferred length is 250 words per page... so a 400[-]page novel would be at about 100,000 words. If you want to see what size book is selling in your genre, take a look on the shelves. If the average length is 300 pages, you're looking at a 75,000[-]word manuscript (approximately)[.] One reason it's harder for a new author to sell a 140,000[-]word manuscript is the size of the book. A 500+[-]page book is going to take up the space of almost [two 300-]page books on the shelves. It's also going to cost more for the publishers to produce, so unless the author is well[-]known, the book stores aren't going to stock that many copies of the 'door-stopper' novel as compared to the thinner novel. Remember, these word- and page-counts are only estimated guides. Use your own common sense, and, where possible, check the guidelines of the publication you intend to submit your work to. Most publishers accepting shorter works will post their maximum preferred lengths, and novels are generally considered on the strength of the story itself, not on how many words you have squeezed into each chapter."
For Personal Business: Making an Itemized Deductible List with Excel in Seven Steps
Warren Davies reports:
"If you are required to itemize your deductions on your tax return, you can keep track of your expenses with a simple Excel spreadsheet. This has several advantages: [Y]ou can make as many backups as you want, integrate the data from the deduction spreadsheet with other spreadsheets...and easily share the file with your employees, if necessary. Once your yearly expense data is in one place, it makes your accountant's job easier when calculating your accounts...Open Excel. At the bottom of the screen where the worksheet tabs are, right-click and select 'New Worksheet.' Repeat this until you have 12 worksheets, then rename them with the relevant months and years of your tax year...Click on the first month of your tax year when done...Type in the headers for the columns. From left to right, starting from 'A1,' type: 'Expense,' 'Amount' and 'Notes.' Include a 'Date' column if you need to know the exact date on which certain expenses were incurred...Type the expenses that your business faces down column 'A,' starting from 'A2,' with each item getting its own cell. You can group these into related expenses, such as auto expenses, office expenses or any other categories that are relevant to your business. This list does not have to be final as you can always add a row by right-clicking the row number and clicking 'Insert Row.'...Create a total for the month. At the bottom of your list in column 'A,' type 'Total.' On the same row, at the bottom of the 'Amount' column, type '=sum(B2:B100)' (without quotations). Replace '100' with the number of the row just above the 'Total' row you just created. Excel sums your expense and shows the result here, and this figure is updated automatically...Select the entire worksheet by pressing 'Ctrl-A,' then copy the selection by pressing 'Ctrl-C.' Paste this -- by pressing 'Ctrl-V' -- into each of your month worksheets...Create a new worksheet called 'Totals.' Create a list of the months going from 'A1' to 'A12,' then type 'Year Total' in the cell just below your final month. Click in cell 'B2,' type the '=' sign, click the worksheet for your first month, click inside the cell containing that month's total -- the one containing the 'sum' formula -- then press 'Enter.' Repeat this process for each month...Type '=sum(B1:B12)' (without quotations) in cell 'B13' of your 'Totals' worksheet, then press 'Enter.' Your itemized deductions spreadsheet is now complete. The monthly and yearly totals are automatically updated whenever you enter a value next to the itemized lists...Check the 'Totals' worksheet at any time to see your expenses for the year so far."
Writing and editing can be pretty rigorous processes if you want to do them well, but that's what this page is here for. Check out the latest tips here.