Articles

Loaded meanings: the challenge of choosing the right word
17 January 2020

Loaded meanings: the challenge of choosing the right word

In times of crisis, or when trying to convey a sensitive message, it can be difficult to find the right words. Dictionaries help us by providing definitions, but these definitions don’t always convey the emotions or deeper meaning behind a word. Can we be sure our readers will infer the meaning we intended?

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. 

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?

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.

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.

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.

Writing skills training: is it enough to prevent communication breakdown?
3 September 2019

Writing skills training: is it enough to prevent communication breakdown?

Poor written communication is a piece of the puzzle often overlooked or misunderstood when investigating an error or non-compliance at work. Poorly written communications lead to confused staff and confused clients, with loss of income and damage to your reputation two potential outcomes.

The rise of the fearless female: why words matter
26 August 2019

The rise of the fearless female: why words matter

I grew up in an era when women were routinely referred to as ‘the weaker sex’. We were expected to be afraid of mice but not of childbirth; we were expected to be capable of raising well-adjusted children (with no days off) but not of running a company. Words have a powerful effect on the reader and can define us positively or negatively. Although true gender equality may still be a long way off, some of the rhetoric has thankfully changed. Enter the fearless female.

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?