Sunday, February 11, 2007

#30: Can You Teach an Old Grant Writer New Tricks?

As a professional grant writer, I've evolved a system that works for me. But, I love finding new tools and new perspectives that will make my applications even more effective. That's what I found in The Complete Book of Grant Writing by Nancy Burke Smith & E. Gabriell Works.

Two things I especially liked -- the perspective of an experienced grant evaluator and the many useful templates. I've already incorporated the Team Review Rubric into my practice.

I'll write more about some of their tips in future posts. But for now--

This guide will stay in a prominent place on my reference shelf.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

#29: Serial commas, grant writers, and proper punctuation

I can't tell you how often I find myself adding that last comma in a series - the one before the 'and' that so many people think you should omit. My proofreaders often want me to put them back in.

I thought the final comma was optional -- that the rule was either way, but be consistent. I plugged it in because I believe it facilitates clear communication.

Now I've learned that the only style guide that advocates leaving it out is the Associated Press Stylebook. The rule according to all other authorities requires that final comma.

We don't write newspaper articles. We write grant applications. So there! My instincts were right for a change. (Generally, I don't trust my grammar or punctuation. I'm forever looking things up.)

For a more authoritative discussion than this:

The Case of the Serial Comma--Solved!: "My original assertion stands, with minor qualifications: Except for journalists, all American authorities say to use the final serial comma: 'He went to the store to buy milk, butter, and eggs.'

The reason for the final serial comma is to prevent the last 2 items' being confused as a unit (butter-and-eggs)."

Friday, February 02, 2007

#28: How to Avoid Acronyms in Your Grant Applications

Remember that song from HAIR?
LBJ took the IRT down to 4th Street, USA. When he got there what did he see? The youth of America on LSD.
I recently came across this Acronyms.pdf on the Good Grammar, Good Style website. The author, Helen Moody, scolds us for using acronyms. She points out (in a most entertaining fashion) that acronyms are writer-centric. And we need to serve the reader, not ourselves.

I'm guilty! I admit it. And, I promise to do better. No more writing out the phrase once, with the abbreviation in parentheses. After all, I want them to remember my client's name.

Moody's pdf covers the whys and where-fors of acronyms and offers some good work-arounds to help avoid them. It's a quick and entertaining read.

Good Grammar, Good Style (tm): "The Good Grammar, Good Style™ Pages"