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July 31, 1986|ROSELLE M. LEWIS

Writing at Work: Do's, Don'ts and How To's by Ernst Jacobi (Ten Speed Press, P.O. Box 7123, Berkeley, Calif. 94707: $7.95).

Let's hear it for the semicolon. Let's settle that who/whom debate forever. Down with buzz words, cliches, obfuscation and "smoggy" prose. And two cheers, at least, to Ernst Jacobi for producing this impressive guide to writing reports, memos, business or solicitation letters, technical papers and resumes--most everything in the English language except fiction.

Rule one, Jacobi insists, is "woo" your reader as you would a lover. It follows that writing should never bore, and among the many attention-getting strategies he suggests are developing a definite point of view (a perspective), finding a theme and consciously using specifics. Spelled as the acronym RED--the use of reasons, examples and details, as most conscientious writers know--leavens even the flattest prose.

Other ways to develop an anti-snooze style is to read aloud what you've written, to find a helpful editor--even in the case of initial rejection--and practice "pruning, clarification and condensation."

This generous paperback contains detailed sections on using a word processor, ways to simplify punctuation and grammar, how to draw graphs and charts. And finally, if you personally want to deliver your prose into the light of print, there's a brief overview of layout and graphics. People writing for their daily bread, as well as those who write on occasion--editors, journalists, publicists, lawyers, scientists, teachers, et al.--will find "Writing at Work" a powerful ally.

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