Articles

A few words speak a thousand truths
10 January 2020

A few words speak a thousand truths

It’s tempting to fill a page with a lot of words. We want our work to look impressive and prove that we have indeed laboured hard. We may even hope all these words will make us look smarter, more knowledgeable. Yet it’s the few powerful phrases that become etched in our memories, not the long-winded diatribes. So when renowned actor Cate Blanchett said recently ‘When one country faces a climate disaster, we all face a climate disaster’ she encapsulated in a few words a thousand truths. 

Plain English and the power of 'you'
6 January 2020

Plain English and the power of 'you'

Despite the global trend towards plain English workplace communications, there is a common misconception that plain English is a process of ‘dumbing down’ that is violating the English language. Word choice is a critical component of plain English. But it’s not simply a case of replacing of long word with a short one – it’s so much more than that.

What Wikipedia doesn’t tell you about plain English
20 December 2019

What Wikipedia doesn’t tell you about plain English

Plain English is not a new concept in the workplace. The NRMA recognised its value over 30 years ago when they produced plain English policies to help their customers make informed choices. Yet,  the uptake of clear, concise writing has been slow in some industries putting organisations at risk. Why is the quest for clear written communication so challenging and how can a plain English writer help?

Christmas, Xmas, Noël and Jul: which came first?
13 December 2019

Christmas, Xmas, Noël and Jul: which came first?

Depending on which part of the world you are in, you’ll be greeted by one of the many forms of well-wishing at the anniversary of the birth of Jesus Christ. In English-speaking countries, you’ll hear ‘merry Christmas’, in France ‘joyeux Noël’ and Sweden and Norway, ‘god Jul’ (pronounced ‘yule’). Which came first and what do they each mean?

Keeping the grammar trolls at bay: how to match singulars and plurals
6 December 2019

Keeping the grammar trolls at bay: how to match singulars and plurals

The grammar trolls are ever ready to pounce, especially on unsuspecting victims who mismatch singulars and plurals. When trolls spot this error, they experience a great sense of superiority. Don’t give them the satisfaction! Instead, find out how to get it right.

How our evolving brains are threatening written communications
29 November 2019

How our evolving brains are threatening written communications

The Digital Age has not only revolutionised the way we work, it is also transforming the way we read. We are evolving from being deep readers invested in comprehending complex information to skim readers who ‘browse’ text. What impact does this have on the way we write at work?

Making sense of sentences: 3 traps to avoid
18 November 2019

Making sense of sentences: 3 traps to avoid

Poor sentence structure is one of the most common ways workplace written communications, such as emails, become derailed. Although there are many ways to increase readability, sentences are the basic unit of writing. If your sentences are long, verbose or poorly structured, you'll very quickly lose your reader. Avoid these three common sentence traps at all cost.

English as a second language: help or hindrance?
29 October 2019

English as a second language: help or hindrance?

Over 23% of Australia’s workforce was born overseas in over 114 countries, giving us a rich and diverse pool of talent. Of these, 13% of workers were born in non-English speaking countries. Despite the many variations in first language, education and background, it is risky to assume that someone who was born and schooled in Australia, or who has English as their first language, will be a better writer than someone with English is a second language. Find out why.

Building confidence in the age of disinformation
14 October 2019

Building confidence in the age of disinformation

Whether it’s a clever marketing message or deliberate disinformation, the written word can lull us into a sense of false security or catapult us into panic. As information flies around the world at breakneck speed on social media and other platforms, words rain relentlessly down on us.  With disinformation and fake news on the rise, as organisations we have an even greater obligation to give our readers confidence that the content we generate is trustworthy.

Quotation marks: single or double?
27 September 2019

Quotation marks: single or double?

When do you use double quotation marks and when do you use single? Is it correct to use quotation marks to emphasise a word? Do you need to italicise quoted material? Although they may seem like insignificant marks on the page, quotation marks (also known as inverted commas) are designed to add clarity to the meaning of your communication, so it's worth learning how to get them right.