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January 01, 2007



Cool Dan! Welcome to the blogging world! Love the blog. And totally love learning about tone... it drives me nuts!

Angelo Fernando


I've been waiting for a blog that pays this kind of attention to language --beyond the style books and Strunk & White. Thanks for starting this.


I plead guilty to several tone infractions. I'm going to enjoy this blog; it's already been helpful!


Charlemagne Solanor

I can't agree more. Here in the Philippines people's emotions are often mistaken for something else when they are conveyed via text messaging. Emoticons sometimes help, though.


Great! Now, is there any way you can deliver the same advice to radio and TV pundits who so very often undermine their own best ideas with sarcasm, rhetorical questions, misdirection and flippancy?

It's extremely tiresome to wade through all the attitude looking for an reasoned opinion clearly stated.

Paul Chaney

Dan, I love your advice, and join the others in saying welcome to the blogosphere. I came through Steve's post to find you.

I don't mean to be critical, but may I make a suggestion? Reading online is difficult as monitors don't make for the best interface. When there is a long paragraph it's even more difficult.

I'd like to suggest breaking the paragraphs into more scannable chunks. It may fly in the face of good grammar to do so, but sure makes digesting the information easier.

Also, the bullet points are very close together. I know Typepad doesn't make editing the style sheet easy, but some spacing in between each of those would be good as well.

Again, not intending to be critical, but these old eyes need all the help they can get! :-)

Mark Goren

This is a seriously great blog. Tell me if you've ever heard this one. I once worked for a creative director who insisted that no comma be used unless there were four or more items/names/whatnot listed. Ever hear that one?

Dan Santow

First of all, thanks to you all for commenting today, as well as to my colleague and fellow blogger, Steve Rubel (http://www.micropersuasion.com/), through whom many of you found Word Wise. Please continue to post your thoughts, ideas, and suggestions.

Paul, I agree with everything you said. I’m still learning the ins and outs of Typepad – over the next few weeks my Monday posting should become easier to read, though. My friend and colleague Jeffrey Treem (http://insidethecubicle.blogs.com) has been patiently answering my questions but I don’t want to push him over the edge. I’m limiting myself to a six questions a day.

Mark, I’ve never before heard that “rule” (operative punctuation: quotation marks), and probably for a good reason. Generally speaking, it’s just plain wrong, though I suppose maybe there’s a tradition somewhere in some field about which I know nothing (bacteriology? philately? agribusiness?) where one does not use a comma except in the circumstances noted by your former creative director.


Nice blog and post. I'm curious, why "Frederick" and not "Friedrich"? It's the first time I see this use.

Dan Santow

Idan, to be honest, I’m not sure why I used Frederick instead of Friedrich when referring to Nietzsche. It might be that the source from which I got the quote used Frederick. Frederick isn’t wrong (according to Wikpedia, he was named after King Frederick William IV of Prussia), but by asking about it you imply it’s at least unusual, and you’re right.

Max Kalehoff

Hi Dan,
I like your stuff. I'm curious if your coaching includes juxtaposition of multimedia with writing. You mentioned tone and emoticons, but what about audio, photos and video. To be sure, if you strip writing to its core, you have only words. But, words have always been capable of being enhanced or mutated with multimedia. That's more true today than ever, and becoming moreso. Heck, your headshot and smile in the sidebar of your blog influenced my perception of your writing!

As for times you shouldn't write -- like when you're in a bad mood -- here's another: when you're drunk. I wonder how many written communications we come across everyeday, where the author was drunk or under the influence of some mind-altering drug.


Mark Goren

Dan, allow me to clarify. When I stated that no comma be used unless there were four or more items/names/whatnot listed, I really meant "no comma be used before the and unless the and comes before the fourth (or additional) item.

Dan Santow

Max, thanks for your thoughtful comments. At Edelman, we, too, are really interested in the interaction of all sorts of media and how we can use it with, for and on behalf of our clients. We recently introduced something called StoryCrafter, a social media release that incorporates hyperlinks, social bookmarking, multimedia, comment and trackback, among other things. I think it’s pretty cool. http://www.edelman.com/news/storycrafter/EdelmanNews.aspx?hid=171

As for writing while you’re drunk – while I won’t recommend it, some of the greatest literature ever written was probably created while its authors were three sheets to the wind.

Mark, thanks for the clarification.

Amanda Goh

Always a big fan! Keep it coming.

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Why "Word Wise"?

  • When I started to e-mail out a weekly writing tip to my Chicago colleagues at Edelman in 2002, little did I know how quickly how many people outside my office would start to request it. But word spread, as word is wont to do, and in 2006 the e-mail evolved into this blog. The tips, which are about grammar, usage and style, have a dual purpose – to remind my colleagues in PR of the power of the written word and, more generally, to support and perpetuate clear, concise, creative, honest, lively, stylish, compelling writing everywhere. In 2009 I started to add commentary about and links to stories and other blog posts related to the media, marketing, writing and, sometimes, just interesting stuff. For some reason, I also started Twittering (at SantowDan).