to help you remember the proper usage of each
PRINCIPAL means MAIN or the main one
The principal of the school
Payment of principal and interest
The principals in the play have the main
The principal objections to the plan are. . .
PRINCIP LE means RU LE or theory
The principles of democracy
We understand it in principle
In choosing between princip al and principle,
rememberif the word main could be substituted
for principal, then principal is the correct word.
If the word r u le could be substituted for
principle, then principle is the correct word.
This pattern may not be true in every instance,
but it is a good way to remember the difference.
From words that are related or similar in
meaning, the discriminating writer will select the
one that best suits the purpose of the letter. The
words obtain, procure, and secure can serve as
an example. Obtain is the more general term.
Procure has, in the Navy, a specific connotation
of obtaining material through official channels
and by approved supply procedures. Secure
is often used incorrectly for obtain or procure.
Its specialized Navy use, meaning to fasten
something down or make it firm, is the correct
clue to its general meaning. While the words fewer
and less seem much alike in meaning, fewer
describes number, and less describes quantity
fewer AWOL cases; amp drawing less water.
In choosing words, always keep in mind the
person for whom the letter is intended. For
example, when a letter to a senior command is
being prepared, Attention is invited is used
rather than Attention is directed; and it will
be appreciated if. . can be maintained is used
instead of . . shall be maintained.
A directive addressed to all hands should be
written in language all can understand. This
means that the words chosen must be meaningful
to all hands. The following sentence is an
example of a simple idea stated in a very
complicated manner: Having cognizance of our
rigid operating schedule, the commanding officer,
in an attempt to ameliorate morale, is en-
deavoring to ascertain the proclivities of those
personnel who are encountering difficulty. . .
The following sentence is the same idea
stated more simply:
Being aware of our
strict operating schedule, the commanding
officer, in an attempt to boost morale, is trying
to determine the nature of those difficulties
personnel are encountering.
A well-written paragraph has unity, which
means that the ideas it contains are closely related
and are arranged so that they develop a single
topic or subtopic of the general subject. In
modern official letter writing, the tendency is
toward short paragraphs for the sake of read-
ability. This requires not only that all unnecessary
verbiage be pared away, but also that the subject
matter be carefully organized and subdivided.
THE TOPIC SENTENCE. A fairly long
paragraph is frequently made more effective if
introduced by a topic sentence. Such a sentence
makes a general statement that is developed in
greater detail in the remainder of the paragraph. A
topic sentence need not stand at the beginning of a
paragraph; in fact, it is possible to have a well-
written paragraph with a topic sentence in the
middle or at the end. In naval correspondence, the
topic sentence is less likely to be placed in the
middle of the paragraph. If placed at the end, it
becomes a summarya very useful device for
pulling the paragraph together and leaving a strong
final effect. However, the topic sentence at the
end of a paragraph is not used extensively in naval
letters and directives. A summary paragraph for
an entire letter is sometimes appropriate.
ORDER OF SENTENCES. A well-
organized paragraph has its various ideas
introduced in an orderly sequence. This sequence
may be place order, chronological order, logical
order, or order for emphasis. All four have the
same purposeto lead the reader along the
desired path with a minimum of backtracking or
skipping about, and thereby leave the reader with
a clear, strong impression of what the writer is
trying to convey.
PLACE ORDER is used for descriptions. The
following description was taken from the report
of a shipboard accident.
During preparation for the transfer of
fuel, seven sections of 2 1/2-inch hose were
connected and rigged between a Navy
cargo ship and a fuel oil barge. The hose
passed through a hold of the ship in which
there were several light fixtures of the type
designed for use with globes and