Articles

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.

The devil is in the detail: the high cost of real-life communication disasters
11 September 2019

The devil is in the detail: the high cost of real-life communication disasters

Many professions from forensic scientists, to engineers, to performing artists to legal practitioners quote the expression ‘the devil is in the detail’. It’s the idea that although something may appear simple or insignificant, there could be hidden problems. There have been many cases where lack of attention to detail has cost organisations as well as individuals millions of dollars, reputational damage and emotional distress.

Gonna, wanna and cos: bad grammar or accepted modern usage?
12 August 2019

Gonna, wanna and cos: bad grammar or accepted modern usage?

Listen carefully to many native English speakers and you’re more likely to hear them say ‘gonna’, ‘wanna’ and ‘cos’ rather than a clearly enunciated ‘going to’, ‘want to’ and ‘because’. Known as 'reductions' (lost sounds in words), these casual forms have also been infiltrating written communications including emails, social media posts and newspaper articles. But are these terms acceptable in business writing?

What’s the difference between enquiry and inquiry, program and programme?
12 August 2019

What’s the difference between enquiry and inquiry, program and programme?

There are many words in English that sound the same but are spelled differently. Two of these are 'enquiry' and 'inquiry', and 'program' and 'programme'. Is there a difference in meaning? Or does it simply come down to personal preference?

Should defined terms begin with a capital letter?
14 December 2018

Should defined terms begin with a capital letter?

Putting a capital letter at the beginning of a term that has been defined within a document is a technique sometimes used to identify these terms throughout the document. Does this technique help or hinder the reader?

How to avoid a word and brand clash
7 November 2018

How to avoid a word and brand clash

When you use outdated words, you not only risk misunderstanding, but you may inadvertently create a mismatch between your written communications and your brand. These words can also alienate your reader. Find out what words are 'in' and what words are 'out' in business writing.

What's the difference between tense and voice in English?
9 September 2018

What's the difference between tense and voice in English?

Many people confuse tense with active and passive voice. This is because the way we construct a passive voice sentence sometimes makes it appear to be in the past tense. But tense and voice actually have two different purposes. 

How to avoid embarrassing word blunders
13 August 2018

How to avoid embarrassing word blunders

Are you savvy or suave? Or both? Is your idea practical or practicable? English is a wonderfully flexible language full of foreign words, subtlety of meaning and quirky spelling. This means we have to keep our wits about us and not rely too heavily on the spell checker. Words that sound the same or similar is an area where many people trip up. 

 

Three quick tricks for reducing typos
27 July 2018

Three quick tricks for reducing typos

In our haste to meet a deadline we often either skip or rush the final stage of the writing process – checking our work for errors. Alternatively, we become so familiar with what we’ve written we no longer see the errors. Both these scenarios are common; we’ve all been there. If you find spotting errors challenging, try these three simple techniques.

Apostrophes: do we really need them?
11 May 2018

Apostrophes: do we really need them?

It’s hard to believe that such a tiny mark on the page could wreak havoc, but incorrect placement of the apostrophe can create misunderstanding and annoyance. Misuse of the apostrophe can also make your work look less professional. Find out how to get it right.