Articles

How not to socially distance with words
31 July 2020

How not to socially distance with words

In times of crisis, we naturally seek comfort from others. When someone is ill, anxious or sad, we instinctively want to be near them, to squeeze their hand, give them a hug or have a chat over a cuppa. Yet as we don our masks and keep a physical distance to stop the spread of COVID-19, we have to find other ways to show we care. Words become increasingly important.

When do too many cooks spoil the writing broth?
24 July 2020

When do too many cooks spoil the writing broth?

Writing is often seen as a solitary task. Yet to produce a report, brochure, fact sheet or other workplace communication, you’ll need to involve others. Having different team members contribute ideas as well as provide feedback on drafts can strengthen your communication. But beware. Too many cooks can sometimes spoil the writing broth leading to time consuming, costly and embarrassing outcomes.

Dress your writing for the occasion
17 July 2020

Dress your writing for the occasion

If you were applying for a senior management position at a large corporation, wearing thongs and shorts to the interview is likely to give the wrong impression. A top hat at Ascot might look appropriate there but completely out of place at the family Sunday barbecue. It’s a similar principle with writing. 

Is Australian spelling dead?
10 July 2020

Is Australian spelling dead?

With word processing programs in workplaces often remaining in the default setting of US spelling, many people are increasingly unaware of the differences between Australian and American spelling. Australian spelling closely follows British spelling, yet many common words are spelt differently in American English even though they mean the same thing. In an interconnected world with English an international language, do these differences matter?

How to dramatically increase readability using signposts
29 June 2020

How to dramatically increase readability using signposts

Enticing your reader to begin reading your report may be the biggest writing challenge you face. Even the most motivated reader is likely to be deterred by a report with pages of unbroken text. So how do you overcome this common barrier?

What do plain English and the little black dress have in common?
19 June 2020

What do plain English and the little black dress have in common?

It was French designer Coco Chanel’s non-traditional approach to women’s fashion that made her famous in the 1920s. Perhaps the most enduring of her creations is the little black dress (also now known as the LBD). But what does the little black dress have to do with plain English?

Chilling out about tense
12 June 2020

Chilling out about tense

Is it lay or lie? What about laid and lied? And why do we write ‘paid’ and not ‘payed’? Using the correct tense is an important part of communicating your message clearly. Using the wrong tense could mislead your reader. Knowing when an action occurred is important to add meaning to your communication. Take care not to fall into these common tense pitfalls.

Poor spelling at work: who even cares?
5 June 2020

Poor spelling at work: who even cares?

One of the hardest aspects of English to get your head around is making sense of its chaotic spelling. This is true for native English speakers as well as those learning English as a second language. When words like blue, shoe, flew, through, you, two and too all sound the same but are spelled completely differently, what hope do we have of making sense of it all? And does it matter anyway? In Western culture at least, it appears that it does.

Business writing: when the shoe doesn't fit
29 May 2020

Business writing: when the shoe doesn't fit

One of the most basic principles of writing is to write for your reader. Yet often we become so entrenched in what we want to say, we lose sight of what our readers need to hear. Communicating is all about sharing our thoughts and ideas. But can we be sure our readers’ minds work the same way as our own?

Spotting scams: clues are in the writing
22 May 2020

Spotting scams: clues are in the writing

The COVID-19 coronavirus has provided fertile ground for scammers to prey on anxious and unsuspecting people in vulnerable financial and health positions. C Since the outbreak of the virus there have been over 2,000 COVID-19-related scam reports. Looking for clues in the text of an email, social media post, or SMS is one of a number of steps you can take to protect yourself from scams.