Real Words that Work  

By Patricia Davies, President, Patricia Davies Communications  
Is your etc. my etc.? 
Why do so many people feel the compulsion to end a list with “etc.”? They worry the list is too short or not exciting enough? Maybe they’re hoping that the magic “etc.” will fool readers into thinking that the items listed are only the beginning of a much more extensive and riveting collection? 
Software X will help you grow your business, reduce your costs, spend less time working, etc. 
Most lists end in etc. because the last item is truly the caboose in the lineup: The cars on thIe track end there. Be honest and don’t try to pretend otherwise. 
Software X will help you grow your business, reduce your costs and spend less time working.
If you are among the few who really shortened a long list, insert “including” or “such as” before the first item. 
This salad is composed of fruits such as oranges, apples and peaches.
Punctuation Tip
In response to reader requests, this column will occasionally include hints on punctuation.
Use a comma before and after a title when it follows a person’s name.
Example: Thomas Underwood, President of Company XYZ, will address the conference tomorrow.
Patricia Davies is an award-winning writer and editor, an Endorsed Education Provider with IIBA®, and a regular panelist on the IIBA “Being a BA: Effective Communication" Webinar. Do you have a writing question? Please email to and we’ll try to address it in a future column or Webinar.