Archive for April, 2013

Draft Watermark

April 26, 2013

Have you ever seen what looks like a big word such as “DRAFT” or “CONFIDENTIAL” stamped diagonally across a page of a document? Have you ever wondered how to do that in Microsoft Word (without actually having to stamp each page)?

Here’s how you do it. On the Ribbon, go to Page Layout, then click on Watermark. You can select the following watermarks in either horizontal or diagonal formats:
•       DO NOT COPY
•       DRAFT
•       SAMPLE
•       ASAP
•       URGENT

You can also design your own watermark text, choosing either horizontal or diagonal, and you can even use a picture as your watermark.

Just remember to remove the DRAFT watermark before you send out the final, FINAL version!

Profound Quote of the Day:
“In almost every profession — whether it’s law or journalism, finance or medicine or academia or running a small business — people rely on confidential communications to do their jobs. We count on the space of trust that confidentiality provides. When someone breaches that trust, we are all worse off for it.”
– Hillary Rodham Clinton, former US First Lady, US Senator, and US Secretary of State, b.

Mini-Tips Part 2

April 19, 2013

Today we have the second of two batches of mini-tips submitted by Shea Writing and Training Solutions of Houston, whose motto is “Creating clarity out of chaos, one sentence at a time.”

Mini-Tip #1: Majority/Minority
Use the words “majority” or “minority” only when referring to numbers of things, not to size. Think “countable.”
Good Example:
A majority of the students in Mr. Shaffer’s class wanted to go outside on such a nice Spring day.
Bad Example:
Mr. Shaffer had poison ivy over the majority of his body. (use “most of” instead)

Mini-Tip #2: Only
The word “only” should go next to the word it modifies. The same rule applies to primarily, largely, principally, mainly, partly, and completely.
The Rig Atoni crew only drilled five wells in March. (only drilled them, didn’t fracture or complete them)
The Rig Atoni crew drilled only five wells in March. (they were supposed to drill ten, but drilled only five)

Mini-Tip #3: Since

The word “since” Implies the passage of time; use “because” when you mean “the reason for.”
Bad Example: She left without her coat since it had warmed up. (use “because”)
Good Example: She left without her coat because it had warmed up since she got to the office. (time)

Mini-Tip #4:
Rather than writing “subsequent to,” use the single word “after.”

Mini-Tip #5:
Under way is two words.

Mini-Tip #6: Unique
Unique means without equal. There can be no degrees of uniqueness. Thus, “almost unique,” “totally unique,” “practically unique,” etc., are incorrect.
Right: I am unique.
Wrong: The new MegaDebamadrone is a completely unique product in the marketplace.

Mini-Tip #7: Via
The word “via” means “by way of” in a geographical sense, not “by means of.”
Bad Example: I am going home via car.
Good Example: I am going home via Richmond Avenue.

Mini-Tips Part 1

April 14, 2013

Today we have a bunch of mini-tips submitted by Shea Writing and Training Solutions, who will be hosting a public technical writing workshop July 24–26, 2013 at the Riverbend Country Club in Sugar Land, Texas (

Mini-Tip #1: All Of
You don’t need to say “all of” when referring to nouns; the word “of” is unnecessary.

all the drill bits, all the butterfly valves

However, when referring to pronouns, you do include the word “of.”

all of them, all of it

Mini-Tip #2: Whether
You don’t need to say “as to whether” or “whether or not.” Usually “whether” is sufficient.

Mini-Tip #3: Start
Instead of the words “commence” or “initiate,” use the simpler words “begin” or “start.”

Mini-Tip #4: Currently vs. Presently
Currently means it is happening now.
Presently means it will happen very soon.

Mini-Tip #5: Data vs. Datum
The word “data” takes a plural verb.
Datum is the singular form and takes a singular verb.

Mini-Tip #6: Less is More
You can cut down the following phrase to a single word:
Due to the fact that —> because

Mini-Tip #7: Etc.
Etc. means “and so forth.” It should only be used at the end of a list that makes clear exactly what kinds of other things are implied. Do not use etc. at the end of a list introduced by “such as,” “e.g.,” or “for example.”

Good Example:
Waterflooding, steamflooding, miscible flooding, etc., are EOR methods often used to improve oil recovery.

Bad Examples:
EOR methods such as waterflooding, steamflooding, miscible flooding, etc., are often done to improve oil recovery.
EOR methods (e.g., waterflooding, steamflooding, miscible flooding, etc.) are often done to improve oil recovery.
For example, waterflooding, steamflooding, miscible flooding, etc., are EOR methods often used to improve oil recovery.

Awesome Texas Video
One of the members of my ladies club ( sent a link to a stunning video of gorgeous photographs of Texas landscapes and animals and cowboys taken by Wyman Meinzer, set to lovely music written by fellow Texan Doug Smith.

It is quite simply a beautiful portrayal of the State of Texas, and I thought I would share it with y’all.

Profound Quote of the Day:
“Learn to enjoy every minute of your life. Be happy now. Don’t wait for something outside of yourself to make you happy in the future. Think how really precious is the time you have to spend, whether it’s at work or with your family. Every minute should be enjoyed and savored.”
– Earl Nightingale, American motivational speaker and radio show host, 1921-1989


April 10, 2013

Even though the word discernible means “able to be seen or understood,” it ends in –ible, not –able.
Two other synonyms of discernible are perceptible and visible, which also end in –ible.
The adverb forms of these adjectives end in –ibly: discernibly, perceptibly, and visibly.
The noun forms of these words end in –ibility: discernibility, perceptibility, and visibility.

However, three other synonyms of discernible end in –able:
observable, detectable, and noticeable.
Why is this? Especially when we are talking about an ability!
Well, it’s just another vagary of the crazy English language.

If you Google them, “discernible” has 4 million hits and “discernable” has 2.7 million hits, so either a lot of people are misspelling it, or the latter is becoming more accepted. Some dictionaries say the latter is “rarely” used. They must be old dictionaries!

But the truly educated ones, including the members of the Peanut Gallery, know to use “discernible,” because they are very discerning individuals.

Profound Quote of the Day:
“Our educational system is like an automobile which has strong rear lights, brightly illuminating the past. But looking forward things are barely discernible.”
– Hermann Oberth, German scientist, 1894-1989

Has Been Done vs. Was Done

April 9, 2013

Today we will have a quick lesson on past verb tenses.

Bad Example:
24 new wells have been drilled in 2012.

There are two things wrong with this sentence. First, you should never start a sentence with a numeral. Either spell out “Twenty-four” (yes, that’s hyphenated), or add a word or two before the numeral, such as “About 24” or “In total, 24.”

The second thing wrong with this sentence is that the passive verb tense used here should be simple past (was done), not present perfect (has been done).

Corrected Example
In total, 24 new wells were drilled in 2012.

Let’s do another one, this time with a plural subject.

Bad Example:
Core porosities have been measured last year. (have been done)

Corrected Example:
Core porosities were measured last year. (were done)

Here is the explanation:
“Has been done” is a present perfect passive tense, which should be used for an action that happened at an unspecified time in the past. You should not use this tense when the time is specified. Use the simple past passive “was done” instead.

Bad Example:
The well has been completed last week and brought on production.

Corrected Example:
The well was completed last week and brought on production.

Here’s a quiz question:
The castle ……… built in the 15th century.
A)      was
B)      has been

Correct answer is A, “was built,” because the time is specified (15th century).
“Was built” is the passive form of the simple past tense, whereas “has been built” is the passive form of the present perfect tense, which is not appropriate because the sentence mentions that the action was completed at a specific time in the past. Use the simple past tense (was done) for that.

Now that you know the rule, here is a practice quiz for you on this topic:

Profound Quotes of the Day:
“When one has success, the answer is not to undo that success. It is to continue what has been done.”
– Charles Schumer, US Senator, NY-D, b. 1950

“I never see what has been done; I only see what remains to be done.
– Buddha, sage of the Shakya Republic, 563-483 BC