Glossary of Terms and Terminology Relating Distinguishing Between Formal and Informal Language

  • Informal writing and language: This type of writing and language does not have to adhere to the established formal rules of grammar and speech; informal language and writing accepts, tolerates and permits the use of things like colloquialisms, slang, figures of speech, clichés, improper and broken syntax, incomplete sentences, sentence fragments and other grammatical prohibitions that are not tolerated when formal writing and language are necessary and indicated.
  • Colloquialisms; informal words and phrases that are conversational, everyday words and phrases that are acceptable in informal writing and speech, but not acceptable in terms of formal writing and speech.
  • Figures of speech: Phrases or words that are arranged in a special manner that has or does not have a literal meaning.
  • Alliteration: A figure of speech that involves the purposeful repetition of an initial or beginning consonant and its phonetic sound in a sentence or phrase. Some refer to the use of alliteration as using fun tongue twisters.
  • Hyperbole: A figure of speech that involves overly exaggerated words to make a point
  • Simile: A figure of speech that involves a comparison of two unlike things which typically includes the word "like" or "as"
  • Puns: A figure of speech that involves a play on words
  • Apostrophe: A figure of speech that involves speaking about or writing about an inanimate object as if it was an animate living being
  • Metaphor: A figure of speech that involves a comparison of two things that are not similar but they have some single characteristic in common
  • Onomatopoeia: A figure of speech that involves words that mimic the actual sound of an animate or inanimate object like a duck saying "quack" and thunder "clapping"
  • Anaphora: A figure of speech that involves the purposeful use of the same phrase or word at the beginning of each clause in a sentence
  • Assonance : A figure of speech that involves the purposeful repetition of vowel sounds in phrases and sentences.
  • The salutation: The salutation is the opening greeting of a business letter or a friendly personal letter. The salutation for a business letter is followed by a colon (:) and NOT a comma, as is used in a friendly letter.
  • The valediction: The valediction is the closing of a business letter or a friendly personal letter.
  • Block formatting: One of the several types of formatting to a resume. This type of formatting has no indentations whatsoever; the entire content of the letter including headings, closings and the body of the letter, begin and remain at the left margin of the letter.
  • Modified block formatting: One of the several types of formatting to a resume. This type of formatting has the text, or the body, of the letter aligned along the left margin, but, the writer's address, the date of the letter and the closing of the letter are indented and not aligned along the left margin.
  • Semi-block formatting: One of the several types of formatting to a resume. Semi-block formatting is done in the same manner as modified block formatting with one exception. Semi-block formatting has the first line of each paragraph indented and the rest of the text or the body of the letter aligned along the left margin. Additionally, the writer's address, the date of the letter and the closing of the letter are indented and not aligned along the left margin.
  • Modified semi-block formatting: One of the several types of formatting to a resume. This type of formatting for a formal business letter includes the consistent indentation of the author's address, the date of the letter and the paragraphs of the letter in its body. All other text is left aligned.
  • Business memoranda: A formal written document that is often used in the office and the work environment. A memorandum is typically shorter, briefer and more concise than a letter or a formal report.
  • Fax cover sheets: Fax cover sheets insure that the facsimile gets to the correct person and/or office and/or department.
  • Essays: A type of formal writing that must be well organized, thoughtful coherent and authored in a logical and consistent manner with a smooth flow of information from the introduction of the essay, to the paragraphs of the body of the essay, to the conclusion, or summary, of the essay.
  • Narrative essays: A narrative essay tells a story and, often, this story can be a personal story about the author themselves. These types of essays are written in the first person because it is the author who is telling story.
  • Descriptive essays: Descriptive essays describe people, places and things with vivid detail that gives the reader of the descriptive essay an opportunity to gain a deep understanding of and appreciation of the topic that is being discussed.
  • Expository essays: The expository essay, as the name suggests, exposes and relates facts and facts alone in order to provide the readers of the essay with the opportunity to get an analysis of subject or topic of the essay and the facts relating to it.
  • Analytical essays: An alternative term for the expository essay.
  • Persuasive essays: The purpose of a persuasive essay is to persuade and convince the readers of the essay to accept the author's position, their opinion, their recommendations and their point of view.
  • Argumentative essays: Argumentative essays are highly similar to persuasive essays but they are a little bit stronger and more assertive in terms of its tone and its tenor. Argumentative essays focus more on a comparison of the author's arguments with details about the pros and the cons of the argument so that the author can bolster their argument and refute the cons against the author's argument, respectively.
  • Compare and contrast essays: Compare and contrast essays explore the similarities and differences between and among different things.
  • Writing styles: Formalized formal writing guidelines that address the overall formatting in terms of margin, spaces and other specifics in the piece of formal writing
  • American Psychological Association (APA) style: One type of a formalized writing style
  • Modern Language Association (MLA) style: One type of a formalized writing style
  • American Medical Association (AMA) style: One type of a formalized writing style
  • The Chicago style: One type of a formalized writing style
  • A chronological resume: One type of resume that is characterized with a chronological portrayal of the resume writer's education and experiences in chronological order from the furthest past to the most current time
  • Reverse chronological resume: One type of resume that is characterized with a chronological portrayal of the resume writer's education and experiences in reverse chronological order from the most recent to the most distant past
  • A functional resume: One type of resume that, in contrast to a chronological resume and a reverse chronological resume, does not focus on the resume writer's previous jobs, years of employment and previous job responsibilities. Instead, a functional resume focuses strongly on the knowledge, skills, abilities and competencies of the resume writer
  • A combination hybrid resume: One type of resume that is a combination of the chronological resume and the functional resume. Typically, the combination hybrid resume begins with the functional focus on the knowledge, skill, abilities and the competencies of the resume writer and then this section is followed by a chronological listing of the resume writer's employment history, either in ascending order or reverse order.
  • The entry level resume: One type of resume that is typically used among new graduates for an entry level job in their new career of occupation.
  • Resume cover letter: The purpose of the cover letter, which is the first page of a resume packet, should amplify and emphasize the resume writer's strengths and how these strengths can meet and exceed the needs and expectations of the prospective employer
  • E mails: E mails in the work environment are expected to be professional, business like, grammatically correct and without spelling errors. The purpose of e mails is communication with others in the workplace.

Forms of Language

There are two broad categories of language and writing. These broad categories are:

One of the basic tenets of writing and authorship is to tailor language and writing for the intended audience. As based on this tenet, there are occasions when the use of informal language is acceptable and appropriate and there are other times when the use of informal language is not acceptable and appropriate. Similarly, there are occasions when the use of informal writing is acceptable and appropriate and there are other times when the use of informal writing is not acceptable and appropriate for the intended audience and their needs.

For example, conversational, relaxed and informal language and writing are acceptable and appropriate in some situations and circumstances that are informal and relaxed; and formal language and writing are acceptable, appropriate and mandated in situations and circumstances such as the school setting and the business environment where informal language and writing are unacceptable.

Formal Writing and Language

In sharp contrast to informal writing and language, formal writing and language follows and adheres to the strict rules of grammar and this kind of writing:

  • Is often composed with longer and more complex sentences and phrases with details and descriptions about the main ideas of the writing passage, when compared to informal writings
  • Is objective and without some of the personal emotions, feelings and beliefs that are acceptable in informal language and readings
  • Is without or with only a rare occurrence of some forms of punctuation, like exclamation points that convey a strong emotion
  • Is free of colloquialisms, slang, figures of speech, clichés, improper and broken syntax, incomplete sentences, sentence fragments and other prohibitions when formal writing and language are necessary and indicated
  • Uses contractions, such as "it's" and "can't", in a highly limited manner; contractions are avoided and replaced, instead, with words such as "it is" and it "cannot".
  • Uses abbreviations in a limited way, and, when they are used, they are defined when they initially appear in the writing passage. For example, when the author is relating information about the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the author will define the abbreviation for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which is CDC, when it first appears in the writing passage. After this, it is acceptable to use CDC without its definition.
  • Has an impersonal tone, rather than a personal tone; this impersonal tone is maintained in formal writings and speech so that the author or the speaker can demonstrated that they have no personal connection to or relationship with the readers of the written text or the receiver of an oral message
  • Uses the third person nouns and pronouns, rather than the first or second person nouns and pronouns
  • Backed up with substantiated claims rather than filled with personal beliefs and opinions
  • Requires acceptable citations and footnotes
  • Is gender neutral
  • Is free of the imperative voice
  • Uses the passive voice rather than the active voice like informal communication does

Formal writing is not tolerant of colloquialisms, slang, figures of speech, clichés, improper and broken syntax, incomplete sentences, sentence fragments and other infractions of the rules of grammar and messages the proper tone.

Some of the circumstances that mandate the use of formal language and writing include:

Business Letters

Business letters, as contrasted to friendly letters that are used with informal writing, have specific requirements and form.

As described below, there are some acceptable variations of business letters, but, for the most part, business letters have this format.

  • Margins: Typically 1 to 1 ¼ inches
  • Fonts: Traditional fonts, such as Arial and times new Roman, are acceptable for the composition of business letters.
  • Punctuation: Some punctuation marks, like exclamation points, are not used because they convey a strong emotion and formal writings, including business letters, should be free of strong emotions and, instead, they should convey objective facts and objectivity.
  • The salutation: The salutation, which is the opening greeting in a business letter, is followed by a colon (:) and NOT a comma, as is used in a friendly letter.
  • The valediction: The valediction, which is the closing of a business letter, is followed by a comma and then the author's signature. The valediction for the business letter can also be referred to as a complimentary, and NOT a complementary, closing.
  • Indentations, as discussed below, must be consistent in the specific business letter.
Formatting Indentations for the Business Letter

There are several acceptable formatting indentations that are acceptable for use in a formal business letter.

The acceptable formatting indentations for formal business letters include:

  • Block formatting: This type of formatting has no indentations whatsoever; the entire content of the letter including headings, closings and the body of the letter, begin and remain at the left margin of the letter.
  • Modified block formatting: This type of formatting has the text, or the body, of the letter aligned along the left margin, but, the writer's address, the date of the letter and the closing of the letter are indented and not aligned along the left margin.
  • Semi-block formatting: Semi-block formatting is done in the same manner as modified block formatting with one exception. Semi-block formatting has the first line of each paragraph indented and the rest of the text or the body of the letter aligned along the left margin. Additionally, the writer's address, the date of the letter and the closing of the letter are indented and not aligned along the left margin.
  • Modified semi-block formatting: This type of formatting for a formal business letter includes the consistent indentation of the author's address, the date of the letter and the paragraphs of the letter in its body. All other text is left aligned.

In summary, these formats are all acceptable but, the author must be scrupulously careful to be consistent throughout the letter in accordance to the formatting that the author chooses. As you can see from the above descriptions, formatting patterns containing the prefix "semi" have the first lines of each paragraph indented and those formatting patterns labeled "modified" have the author' address, the date of the letter and the closing of the letter indented. For a great example of a business letter see WikiPedia.

Business Memorandum

A memorandum is also referred to as a memo. The plural form of the word "memorandum" is "memoranda" and the plural form of the word "memo" is "memos".

Business memoranda are formal written documents that are often used in the office and the work environment. Unlike formal letter writing in the office and workplace, business memoranda have a different purpose and a different form and format.

A memorandum is typically shorter, briefer and more concise than a letter or a formal report; memoranda can also vary greatly in terms of their formats particularly because many agencies and offices such as governmental agencies, like the federal government and city governments, and many

Another difference between a memorandum and a report or letter lies in the pathway that it follows to and through the channels of communication within an organization or office. For example, a particular memo originating from a nurse manager may be sent through the nursing supervisor, and then through the Assistant Director of Nursing, and then finally to the Director of Nursing or the Vice President of Nursing, rather than going directly to the Director of Nursing or the Vice President of Nursing.

The purpose of this memo's passing through multiple pathways before it reaches its final destination, which is the Director of Nursing or the Vice President of Nursing, is to inform all those along its pathways about the contents of the memorandum. At times, these memos may be required to and mandated to pass through some specific channels of communication and the channels of commands in a particular organization, according to the organization's policies and procedures.

Most memos are:

  • Rather brief and short in length, as contrasted to the extensive nature of some business reports. Memoranda are typically one page but some can be as long as two pages.
  • Single spaced
  • Left margin justified
  • Begun with a purpose statement
  • With a line that is skipped between paragraphs rather than indentation
  • With titled subsections that are consistent with the title of the memo
  • Most effective when lists and bullet points are included in its subsections
  • Closed with a closing or summary statement
  • Supplemented and augmented with attachments to further support the facts, opinions, requests and suggestions in the memo

Fax Cover Sheets

The primary purpose of fax cover sheets is to insure that the facsimile gets to the correct person and/or office and/or department. Other purposes of a fax cover sheet are to establish a priority level and to communicate this priority level to the receiver of the fax so that the receiver of the fax will have an alert in terms of its urgency, for example.

The basic components of a fax cover sheet are:

  • Contact information about the sender of the fax in terms of their name, their title, their company affiliation, their street address, state, zip code, their fax number, their email address and their website, when appropriate
  • The recipient's name, their company affiliation, fax number, phone number, and other information as stated immediately above and as necessary for the specific fax cover
  • The date of the fax
  • The subject of the fax
  • The number of pages with or without the cover sheet, as specified
  • Special notations such as "urgency", "for review", "as requested", etc.

Essays

Although essays are overwhelmingly written as a piece of formal writing, there are times when a person may want to write an informal essay about some personal experience or characteristic which they are not required to write the essay for academic school work. In the academic school setting, you should, however, be aware of the fact that you are expected to write a formal essay when you are asked to do so in the academic setting.

Essays must, as a form of formal writing, adhere to all of the rules, principles and formatting that are required for formal writing and essays must also be free of all the flexibilities and grammatical permissiveness that can be used in informal writing, and as detailed above, under the title "Informal Language and Writing".

Essays must be well organized, thoughtful coherent and authored in a logical and consistent manner with a smooth flow of information from the introduction of the essay, to the paragraphs of the body of the essay, to the conclusion, or summary, of the essay.

The essential parts of an essay are:

  • A one paragraph introduction
  • The body of the essay which is typically three paragraphs
  • The summary or conclusion which, like the introduction, is one paragraph

The introduction to the essay should include interesting information that will be included in the body of the essay and perhaps even the importance of knowing about the information that will be included in the essay. It should be interesting and it should motivate the reader to want to read the entire essay.

For example, if you are planning on writing an essay on the cells of the human body and you should likely plan on naming your essay, "Cells as the Building Blocks of Living Things", or something similar to it.

Your introductory paragraph for the essay should include a statement about, perhaps, the parts of a cell, the function of cells, and the importance of cells in living beings, including humans.

The body of the essay, which is typically three paragraphs, consists of the information that supports and expands on the ideas that were presented in the introductory paragraph of the essay. For example, the paragraphs of your proposed essay entitled "Cells as the Building Blocks of Living Things" would include one paragraph on the parts of the cells, one paragraph on the functions of cells and the last paragraph of the body of the essay would include the importance of cells in human beings and other living beings.

Additionally, the first sentence of each of the essay body paragraphs should begin with an introductory statement, or sentence, that draws the reading into reading it; and the last sentence or statement of each of the essay body paragraphs should end with a closing statement and a transition statement to the next paragraph of the essay body.

The conclusion of the essay would include your summary statements about the facts presented in the body of the essay and perhaps why it is so important for people to be somewhat knowledgeable about cells, the parts of the cells and the functioning of cells in terms of the readers' own health and wellness.

Based on the need for an essay to be organized, thoughtful, coherent and authored in a logical and consistent manner, it is suggested that you write and work with an outline for the essay until it is satisfactory and meets the criteria for the formal writing of an essay as discussed above.

There are a rather large number of different types of categories of essays. Each of these types of essays is typified with a different purpose and different grammatical structures.

The six most commonly occurring types of essays are:

Narrative Essays

Description: A narrative essay tells a story and, often, this story can be a personal story about the author themselves. These types of essays are written in the first person because it is the author who is telling story.

Some examples of narrative essays can include things like the author's first memory as a child, a recollection of one's last summer vacation or one's personal goals and how the author intends to meet these life goals.

Read more about narrative texts.

Descriptive Essays

Description: As the name implies, descriptive essays describe people, places and things with vivid detail that gives the reader of the descriptive essay an opportunity to gain a deep understanding of and appreciation of the topic that is being discussed. This understanding and appreciation occurs as the result of the author's planned use of vivid and colorful words as well as the author's intention to tap into the senses of the reader with sights and sounds, for example. These types of essays also give the reader the opportunity to react emotionally to the topic that is described in the essay.

Some examples of descriptive essays can include the current refugee crisis, art in France during the Renaissance time, and about a botanical garden.

Read more about descriptive texts.

Expository Essays

Description: The expository essay, as the name suggests, exposes and relates facts and facts alone in order to provide the readers of the essay with the opportunity to get an analysis of subject or topic of the essay and the facts relating to it. For this reason, expository essays are often referred to as analytical essays.

Personal opinions, beliefs and values are NOT injected into an expository essay. Again, this type of essay presents only objective facts that logically and rationally support and defend the author's position and not the author's subjective feelings or emotions. For this reason, the use of the first person is not used in an expository essay. Additionally, the text is kept in the present tense because the author of the expository or analytical essay is expressing their current thoughts relating to something even though the events, for example, may have occurred in the past.

This type of essay is often used by the author to examine a particular topic or subject, to analyze it and then interpret the analysis of something such as a piece of literature, a piece of art, an event and a trend.

Expository essays address the intended audience with an explanation, rather than an opinion, about a theme, an issue and even a work of literature. Expository essays can include facts, including statistics and other objective data and information, about, for example, the rise or fall of the stock market, the composition of the Democratic or Republican political parties, the history of standardized testing in elementary schools and a critique of a literary work such as a poem, a short story or a novel.

Read more about expository texts.

Persuasive Essays

Description: The purpose of a persuasive essay is to persuade and convince the readers of the essay to accept the author's position, their opinion, their recommendations and their point of view. The way that this purpose is achieved is by the author's proving that their point of view and opinions are correct.

The author's beliefs and opinions are communicated to the readers of the essay with sound reasoning and strong solid and accurate evidence based on a number of arguments. These arguments are presented in a smooth and logical manner from one point to the next. Some of these opinions are those of known experts and their sound logical reasoning for their beliefs and opinions so that the readers of the essay can be convinced and persuaded to agree with the author's stance because it is the correct position to take. A strong but not overly passionate conclusion should also be a part of this type of essay.

Examples of persuasive essays can include the reasons for and rationale for supporting one political candidate over another, and the reasons for and rationale for supporting public education or why the refugee crisis must be addressed and corrected.

Read more about persuasive texts.

Argumentative Essays

Description: Argumentative essays are highly similar to persuasive essays but they are a little bit stronger and more assertive in terms of its tone and its tenor. Argumentative essays focus more on a comparison of the author's arguments with details about the pros and the cons of the argument so that the author can bolster their argument and refute the cons against the author's argument, respectively. The arguments against the author's stand should be given so that the author can argue against them.

Depending on the author's choice, the cons and their refutation can come as the first paragraph of the body of this type of essay and the remaining two paragraphs of the argumentative essay as the pros for the author's position; or the pros for the author's position can come as the two paragraphs of the body of this type of essay and the remaining paragraph could be used for the cons and the author's refutation.

Read more about argumentative texts.

Compare and Contrast Essays

Description: Compare and contrast essays are quite popular among teachers and professors in the academic setting, but they are also popular in the business and civic environment.

These essays, simply stated, explore the similarities and differences between and among different things. For example, a compare and contrast essay can be used to compare and contrast:

  • Aristotle, Plato and Socrates
  • At least the different kinds of sentences or essays
  • Arithmetic, geometry and statistics
  • Globalism and nationalism
  • The Republican Party, the Democratic Party and the Independent Party

Read more about compare and contrast texts.

Academic Writing Including Research Papers

Academic writing and research papers in high schools and post secondary educational settings, such as colleges and universities, must adhere to the strict rules of grammar, spelling and accuracy. In fact, many high school and college teachers subtract a certain score from the student's submitted essay and penalized students and their overall grade for the research paper for grammatical and spelling errors.

Academic writing and research papers are lengthier and more extensive than essays and they are typically focused on and above the level of straight knowledge and recall. They, therefore, consist of some in-depth synthesis and analysis of a subject or topic so that the author can demonstrate an in-depth knowledge and understanding of a topic or subject that cannot be tested by a teacher or professor on a simple multiple choice test or examination.

As you can imagine, topics for academic writings and research papers are limitless in terms of their number and their depth. When assigned to author a research paper in the school setting, the teacher or professor will typically assign a topic, the length of the writing in terms of words or pages, the font that must be used and other specifics. Additionally, academic settings and other environments are totally intolerant of any plagiarism.

Simply defined, plagiarism is taking the thoughts and works of others and claiming, inadvertently or willfully, that the thoughts and work is yours instead of crediting these things to the rightful purpose.

Few, if any, embark on the authorship of a research paper with the intention to defraud the readers or the teachers by using the thoughts of others as their own; however it does happen when the author of the research paper is not paying scrupulous attention to details and they inadvertently and accidentally fail to credit the source of this information. Your safest defense against inadvertent plagiarism is to cite a source even when you think it may possibly be plagiarism.

Writing Styles Used for Research Papers and Academic Writings

There are many writing styles. Some of these writing styles are used more often than others and some writing styles are very specific to one type of writing and not others. For example, the Modern Language Association's writing style, referred to as the MLA style is perhaps the most frequently used writing style because it is used for a variety of subjects and among a wide number of disciplines and professions. On the other hand, the American Chemical Society (ACS) style is used exclusively for the limited discipline of chemistry and among a relatively small number of chemists, when compared and contrasted to other writing styles.

Despite differences, the different writing styles typically address uniformity throughout a piece of writing in terms of:

  • Its overall formatting in terms of margin, spaces and other specifics in the piece of writing
  • A mechanism for citations within the piece of writing which are referred to as in text citations
  • A mechanism for endnotes and footnotes
  • A reference page or bibliography which are collectively referred to as end text citations

The most commonly used writing styles include the:

The focus of the below descriptions for the APA and MLS writing styles will address in text citations and end text citations. In text citations are those citations that occur sporadically and intermittently and are placed within the text of the writing; and end text notations or citations are found at the end of the paper on a separate page sometimes referred to as a bibliography or reference page.

The American Psychological Association (APA) Style

Similar to other styles, the APA style has in text notes and end text notes; however, different from some other styles, APA is rather simple in terms of its in text notes and, for this reason, the flow of the writing appears smoother and less broken up.

  • In Text Notes

Description: Includes the author(s), the year and the page number when a direct quotation is taken from the source text

Examples:

One author without a direct quotation: (Taylor, 2018)

More than one author without a direct quotation (Taylor, Deming & Burke, 2018) for the first citation and (Taylor et al., 2018) with subsequent citations after the initial citation

One author with a direct quotation (Taylor, 2018. p 45)

More than one author with a direct quotation (Taylor, Deming & Burke, 2018, p. 989)

More than one citation (Taylor, Deming & Burke, 2018; Monroe, 2015)

One author when the author's name is in the text: According to Taylor (2018), bullying is harmful to the victim.

More than one author when the authors' names are in the text: According to Taylor, Deming & Burke (2018), bullying is harmful to the victim.

Web page in text citation: Maryanne Taylor, known for nursing synergy since 1996 (Nursing Synergy, 2017).

  • End Text Notes: The APA end notes are referred to as References and NOT a Bibliography

Description: The second line and subsequent lines of the reference are indented three (3) spaces.

Examples:

Taylor, T. M. (2018). Teaching nurses. Journal of Education in Nursing., 76(3), 786-789.

Taylor, T. M., Deming, M. J., & Burke, A. JB. (2018). Teaching nurses. Journal of Education in

Nursing., 76(3), 786-789.

Nursing Synergy. (2017). Retrieved from http://www.nursing/...

The Modern Language Association (MLA) Style

The Modern Language Association (MLA) style, perhaps the most widely used style, is most often used for subjects that fall into the categories of the humanities and liberal arts which, as you probably know, are highly numerous.

Below are some examples of in text notes and end text notes according to the MLA style.

  • In Text Notes

Description: In text citations consist of the author's last name and page number or just the page number when the author's name is already in the preceding text

Examples:

One author with and without a direct quotation: (Taylor 98)

Two authors with and without a direct quotation: (Taylor 98; Deming et al. 15)

One author with a direct quotation when the author's name is already in the text: (98)

  • End Text Notes:

Description: These end notes vary according to the nature of the source.

Examples:

Book in print

Taylor, T. M. Nursing Synergy. New York, New York. 2018

Article or chapter in a book

Taylor, T. M. "What is Synergy?"Nursing Synergy. New York, New York, 2018, pp. 765- 820.

Resumes

Resumes and cover letters are most often used for the purpose of gaining employment in a new company but they can also be used to get a different position and/or a transfer in the company that the person is currently employed with.

Some of the general rules for resume writing include:

  • The use of a high quality paper
  • The use of a neutral color paper like white, off white and ivory rather than colors like neon colors and purple, for example
  • The use of letter size, rather than legal size or custom size, paper
  • Traditional fonts like Ariel and times new Roman, rather than less traditional fonts
  • A format in terms of spacing and spaces that is neat, organized and consistent throughout
  • A format that maximizes the use of the limited one or two pages that should be used for the entire resume
  • The use of keywords relating to the job and its related skills so that an employer using a data tracking system will pick up the resume using these key words
  • The incorporation and use of power words and active, rather than passive, verbs
  • Brevity and no more than two pages
  • Elements specific to the job and the requirements that the prospective employer is seeking. One size does not fit all. Tailor the resume to the specific job and the specific employer.
  • WITHOUT any misspelling of words, inappropriate punctuation, grammatical errors and/or formatting errors
  • Complete honesty, integrity and accuracy

There are several types of resume that can be used for this marketing tool, including:

The Chronological Resume

A chronological resume, as the name suggests, includes a chronological portrayal of the resume writer's education and experiences in chronological order from the furthest past to the most current time.

Additionally, there are several types of resume cover letters that correlate with the different types of resumes. These, and other types, of resume cover letters will be discussed in the next section.

The Reverse Chronological Resume

The reverse chronological resume runs in chronological order from the most recent employment and academic education to the most distant. It runs in the opposite chronological order when compared and contrasted to the chronological resume discussed and shown above.

Here is a Microsoft Word chronological resume template that can be used for a reverse chronological resume or the author of the resume may choose to use the design above for the chronological resume, provided that the resume writer begin with the most recent job, presumably their current jobs, and then progressively backward in time to include the past jobs. Educational history is also done in reverse order for the reverse chronological resume.

A Functional Resume

Functional resumes, unlike chronological and reverse chronological resumes, do not focus on the resume writer's previous jobs, years of employment and previous job responsibilities. Instead, a functional resume focuses strongly on the knowledge, skills, abilities and competencies of the resume writer and it matches up and correlates these elements with the knowledge, skills, abilities and competencies that are being sought after and expected by the prospective employer.

The Combination Hybrid Resume

A combination hybrid resume is a combination of the chronological resume and the functional resume. Typically, the combination hybrid resume begins with the functional focus on the knowledge, skill, abilities and the competencies of the resume writer and then this section is followed by a chronological listing of the resume writer's employment history, either in ascending order or reverse order.

The Entry Level Resume

The entry level resume is used primarily among recent college, vocational school or high school graduates who have no prior work experience, except for, perhaps a part time entry level job while going to school prior to graduation.

Based on the fact that these entry level job seekers have no prior experience in their now chosen occupation or field of employment, the entry level resume focuses on and maximizes past accomplishments and future goals.

A Curriculum Vitae (CV)

In the United States, unlike other nations throughout the globe, curriculum vitae, which is highly similar to the resume and with the same purpose as a resume in terms of marketing oneself, is primarily used to seek a position in post secondary academia, to apply for a scholarship and to submit a grand proposal for funding.

Internal Resumes

Internal resumes are used by job applicants who are seeking another job in the same organization or agency that they are currently in.

Online Resumes

Online resume submission is highly popular. These resumes can take on any style or form such as a chronological resume, a functional resume and a curriculum vitae, but they do and should differ somewhat from hardcopy resumes sent in the US mail.

This difference lies in the fact that many employers are now using technologies such as search engines and applicant tracking programs that facilitate the simple and easy sorting, searching and filtering the content of an unlimited number of resumes for any variable, or key word, that they choose to find.

Although the use of appropriate and effective key words is recommended for all resumes, the use of these key words may be the reason for the success or failure of an online resume.

Video Resumes

Again, the internet and advanced technology have given rise to some novel resume methodologies. Although at the current time, there are mixed reviews relating to the video resume, it is used by some with success in specialized fields such as the creative arts and media fields.

Get more insight into RN resumes and job application advice.

Cover Letters for Resumes

Landing a job has several sequential steps. The ultimate goal is landing the job but before that happens you have to:

  • Have a cover letter that gets the attention of the prospective employer
  • Have a resume that maintains the prospective employer's interest in you and then to
  • Get an interview that gives you the opportunity to match you and your knowledge, skills and abilities with the job opening, according to the prospective employer's opinion and point of view
  • Land the job

The purpose of the cover letter, which is the first page of your resume packet, is to strongly alert the prospective employer about you and your strengths. A good, compelling and properly composed cover letter moves your resume to the top of the pile of resumes; a poor, weak and grammatically incorrect cover letter with misspelling will move you to the bottom of the pile of perhaps hundreds of resumes and perhaps even tossed into the trash can.

A cover letter does not repeat the contents of the resume; instead, the cover letter should amplify and emphasize the resume writer's strengths and how these strengths can meet and exceed the needs of the prospective employer and the qualifications specific to the job that the resume writer is seeding to fill.

Some cover letters, and resumes, are sent because a job has been advertised, other cover letters and resumes are sent without a posted ad and without be solicited by the company or organization. Still more cover letters and resumes are coordinated and similar to the resume in terms of their focus. For example, cover letters can maintain the consistency of a functional or a chronological resume to the cover letter and others are used for entry level positions for new graduates.

Emails in the Employment Setting and Workplace

E-mails, like business letters, memoranda, and fax cover sheets, in the work environment are expected to be professional, business like, grammatically correct and without spelling errors.

The purpose of e mails is communication with others in the workplace. In contrast to telephone calls and discussions, e mails have some distinct advantages.

Some of these advantages include the fact that e mail:

  • Is more efficient than telephone calls because missed calls and leaving voice mails can be time consuming
  • Maintains a written and documented conversation that can be referred back to when desired by either party

It, however, does have its disadvantages. For example:

  • E mails are a permanent record that cannot be erased or permanently eradicated. It is a permanent record that could create problems in the workplace when the content of e mails are unprofessional, rude and even perceived to be inter employee harassment

E mail in the workplace typically has the same components as our personal email in our home. Some companies, however, may add a section to mark its urgency or priority on their intranet within the business or company.

The components of an e mail include:

Heading or Title

The heading or title of the email communication should be filled in. It should also be clear, concise and reflective of the content of the email.

Examples of headings or titles for business related e mail include:

  • Art committee meets tomorrow
  • Report has been sent to the VP
  • Quality control audit submitted
  • Schedule for safety drills has changed
Salutation

Unlike, perhaps, some of your personal e mail salutations, the business environment is formal and professional, therefore, a formal and proper salutation must be used. It should not be informal, like Hi Ya.

Some formal and acceptable salutations in business e mails include:

  • Greetings (with or without the recipient's name)
  • Hello (with or without the recipient's name)
  • Dear (with the recipient's name)
  • Hi (with or without the recipient's name)
Content

The content of the email must be professional, concise, brief and to the point.

Although most people do not work in the legal field, all should be aware of the nature of any business environment legal documents and writings including things like an incident report, an accident report and some other documents such as risk management and quality assurance documents. All of these documents, although not technically legal documents, can potentially be used in the court of law and they can also be subpoenaed by the courts and lawyers.

For this reason, any potentially legal documents and evidence must be prepared in a professional manner and using the rules of formal writing. Additionally, many companies and corporations have guidelines, policies and procedures relating to the completion of these potentially legal documents. At times, some companies and corporations also have a legal department, a risk management department or another department that can assist employees when they have to author and submit a potentially legal document.

Some of the basic requirements for a legal document include:

  • Professional writing
  • Formal writing
  • Adherence to any existing company policies, procedures and guidelines for their completion
  • Objectivity and only the facts
  • The absence of any opinions, speculation, suppositions, and assumptions

For example, if you are an employee in a retail store and you suddenly see a person lying on the floor, you will probably have to fill out and complete an accident report among other things such as notifying the manager or supervisor. You would NOT write that the customer fell on the floor because you did not actually see the person fall, you only saw this person on the floor. Stating that the customer fell is speculation and an assumption and it may place the company at unnecessary risk for legal litigation and vulnerability. These reports should, as stated above, be objective, factual and according to any company policies, procedures and guidelines relating to these documents.

Some of the components of these forms and reports require:

  • The time of day
  • The date
  • The place or location of the incident or accident
  • An objective statement around the area of the incident or accident with such information as the presence of a puddle, good lighting, poor lighting, a dry floor, uncluttered surroundings, etc.
  • Exactly what you empirically saw, heard or smelled with your senses
  • Your legal signature

Informal Writing and Language

Informal writing and language, in contrast to formal writing and language, lacks the need for strict adherence to established formal rules of grammar and speech; informal language and writing accepts, tolerates and permits the use of things like colloquialisms, slang, figures of speech, clichés, improper and broken syntax, incomplete sentences, sentence fragments and other grammatical prohibitions that are not tolerated when formal writing and language are necessary and indicated.

Informal language and writing is more personal and it has a more conversational tone than formal speech and writing. This form of language and writing is typically used for:

  • Friendly and personal letters
  • Friendly and personal email messages
  • Friendly and personal text messages
  • Friendly and personal instant messages
  • Informal social media platforms like Facebook, as contrasted to more formal and professional social media platforms like LinkedIn

Colloquialisms

Colloquialisms are defined as informal words and phrases that are conversational, everyday words and phrases that are acceptable in informal writing and speech, but not acceptable in terms of formal writing and speech.

Some colloquialisms include:

  • Sort of (Meaning kind of)
  • What's up (Meaning what's happening)
  • Wanna (Meaning want to)
  • Going bananas (Meaning going crazy or getting angry)
  • All wet (Meaning confused and incorrect)
  • Put out (Meaning inconvenienced)
  • Shove off (Meaning leave)
  • Go nuts (Meaning going insane)
  • Gonna (Meaning going to)
  • Buzz off (Meaning go away)
  • The middle finger (Meaning a profane gesture)
  • Go to hell (Meaning a curse)

Colloquialisms may vary among various geographical regions. For example, the southern states of our nation may use colloquialisms like "y'all" which is understandable by southern Americans but not always understandable to those in other regions of our country.

Slang and Jargon

Some colloquialisms can include slang. Simply defined, slang is words that have a special meaning to those included in a particular group and without any meaning for those not included in that particular group. Groups, in the context of slang, can include groups such as age groups, gender groups and other groups such as nurses, police officers, and soldiers.

Figures of Speech

Figures of speech are phrases or words that are arranged in a special manner that has or does not have a literal meaning. Figures of speech add pizazz, flair and freshness to informal speech and writing.

Because figures of speech can be comprehended and understood both literally and figuratively, they can become confusing to the receiver of the written or the spoken word when the receiver of the message interprets a literal figure of speech as a figurative figure of speech and also when the receiver of the message interprets a figurative figure of speech as a literal figure of speech.

Although there may be hundreds of figures of speech, the list below includes the most commonly and most frequently used figures of speech:

  • Alliteration

Definition: The purposeful repetition of an initial or beginning consonant and its phonetic sound in a sentence or phrase. Some refer to the use of alliteration as using fun tongue twisters.

Examples of this figure of speech: Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers; and Susie sold sea shells by the sea shore.

  • Hyperbole

Definition: Overly exaggerated words to make a point

Example of this figure of speech: I am so hungry that now I could eat a horse.

  • Simile

Definition: A comparison of two unlike things which typically includes the word "like" or "as"

Example of this figure of speech: The boys played in piles of dirt and they became black as coal.

  • Puns

Definition: A play on words

Example of this figure of speech: The news that I am color blind came completely out of the blue.

  • Apostrophe

Definition: Speaking about or writing about an inanimate object as if it was an animate living being

Example of this figure of speech: My dear car, Brad, died on the highway today.

  • Metaphors

Definition: A comparison of two things that are not similar but they have some single characteristic in common

Example of this figure of speech:

All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances[...] -William Shakespeare, As You Like It

  • Onomatopoeia

Definition: Words that mimic the actual sound of an animate or inanimate object like a duck saying "quack" and thunder "clapping".

Examples of this figure of speech: Rice Krispies cereal says, "Snap, crackle and pop; and the train went choo choo down the track.

  • Anaphora

Definition: The purposeful use of the same phrase or word at the beginning of each clause in a sentence

Example of this figure of speech: It is clear that my bad luck today happened because I was in the wrong place at the wrong time and with the wrong people.

  • Assonance

Definition: The purposeful repetition of vowel sounds in phrases and sentences. The words with the rhyming and repetitious vowels can form rhyming words but the words used for assonance do not have to necessarily rhyme.

Example of this figure of speech: How now, brown cow?

Examples of slang words include:

  • On the up and up (Meaning proper and honest)
  • The cat's meow (Meaning stylish)
  • Spiffy (Meaning fashionable and stylish)
  • Left holding the bag (Meaning being falsely accused of something)
  • Dig it (Meaning understand it)
  • Gig (Meaning a job)
  • Hip (Meaning cool and contemporary)
  • Cool it (Meaning calm down)
  • The skinny (Meaning the facts and the truth)
  • Psych out (Meaning being tricked or deceived)
  • Far out (Meaning in style or advanced)
  • Cool (Meaning cool and contemporary)

Examples of slang or jargon words that have a special meaning to those included in a group and without any meaning for those not included in the particular group include:

  • The brig (Meaning military prison)
  • On the beat (Meaning working for police officers)
  • On the job (Meaning employed as a police officer)
  • Shift (Meaning hours of scheduled work for nurses and police officers)

Other Permitted Grammatical Rule Breaks for Informal Speech and Writing

In addition to the use of colloquialisms, slang, jargon and figures of speech, informal language and informal writings can, unlike formal speech and writing, also:

  • Use first and third person pronouns by the author or the speaker
  • Use second person pronouns to speak with and communicate with the reader of the written or the listener of the oral message
  • Can use incomplete sentences and sentence fragments like "No… "and "On the other hand..."
  • Can include very simple and short sentences
  • Abbreviated words such as video, TV, CD and photo rather than videotape, television, compact disc and photograph, respectively

As you should recall from a previous section, first, second and third person pronouns are those pronouns that address the person themselves, the person that you are communicating to and with, and a person other than yourself and the person that you are communicating to and with.

For example, some first person words that address the person themselves are:

  • I
  • Me
  • We
  • Ours

Some second person words that are directed to a person whom you are communicating with are:

  • You
  • Your
  • Yourself

And, lastly, some third person words that refer to a person other than our self and the person we are communicating with include:

  • Them
  • They
  • He
  • She

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