Oh, You Better Watch Out Uncategorized / Writing & Grammar

Hello everyone:

Just a couple of quick comments today on the topic of following directions. Please do it. Okay, we’re done.

All right, not really (with regards to being done, not regarding following directions). I have a group of college seniors at one of my colleges where I am an instructor and these dear folks really struggle with following directions.

Of course, part of the problem is that they don’t read the announcements, so they have no idea when I have posted clarification of an assignment. For example, the current week requires that they submit a rough draft of their final project BUT this rough draft only needs eight lines of text, and is merely so I can tell if they understand what has to be in the final project.

The components are listed in the instructions, so this whole rough draft will take them less than two minutes to do. But they just scanned the instructions; they, therefore, do not know for sure what the instructions said. So what do I get?

I get executive summaries that are posing as the entire project. They submit memos (a letter is a requirement, but the memo writing was so three weeks ago!). Sometimes they will give me a two-page Table of Contents. Let me explain that last comment- the Table of Contents will indicate that the entire project will be two pages in length. (The required length is 2,000 words, so there is no way that will fit on two pages, unless the font is so small that I cannot read it!)

They also love to turn in memos. They will list the “Letter of Transmittal” on their Table of Contents and then write a memo. Please note that, weeks ago, I gave them an example of the modified block letter that is one of those eight components. Folks, there is a difference between a memo and a letter. However, they will also not read my feedback so that memo-that-should-be-a-letter will show up in the final document. And it will be wrong.

The amazing thing is that these folks are frequently excellent writers, but their lack of attention to detail will cost them points- a lot of them. So, you’d better watch out. Failure to follow instructions can be expensive.


Dr. Sheri


Sheri Dean Parmelee has a Ph.D. in Communication Studies from Regent University. She writes books on practical tips for people who become unexpectedly unmarried and is working on her second novel in a series of contemporary romance/suspense novels. She teaches at three colleges, working with students from freshmen to graduate students. Her hobbies include running 8 miles a day and reading biographies and fiction.

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