Avoiding comma splices


A comma splice occurs where a comma joins two or more independent parts of a sentence. The comma should not do this, but I see it every day. Here's an example: The CEO is on leave, her executive assistant will handle all queries. The above sentence has two parts, each with a subject and [...]

Avoiding comma splices2021-05-17T15:09:32+10:00

Fixing noun strings


‘Noun strings’ are awful and do my brain in. The nouns are consecutive, so there are no little words to break them up. Here’s how to fix them and improve your style. First, what's the matter with them? Two nouns are common, such as lion cub. Three-word noun strings can be OK: ✅ home insurance [...]

Fixing noun strings2021-05-07T15:48:47+10:00

Resources about inclusive and respectful language


‘Inclusive language is not about being “politically correct” – it is about using language which is respectful, accurate, and relevant to everyone.’ (Diversity Council Australia) Here are websites that provide guidance on inclusive and respectful language (and practices). 1. Australian Government Style Manual www.stylemanual.gov.au/format-writing-and-structure/inclusive-language A clear summary, good overall starting point 2. Victorian Government [...]

Resources about inclusive and respectful language2021-05-14T16:39:14+10:00

Write generic words in lower case


Murray Street?Davey Street?Murray and Davey streets. This quick grammar-nerd tip will keep you out of trouble. ****** So we all know that a proper noun, such as a place name, is written with upper case: ✅ Murray Street But, when two or more are written together, the generic word should be in lower case: [...]

Write generic words in lower case2021-04-11T18:52:27+10:00

Shall I ask ‘if’ or ‘whether’?


Holly is Executive Assistant to a CEO, and each month she arranges the company board meeting. She compiles and sends out the board papers, arranges the catering, and corresponds with the directors about arrangements. It is over this correspondence, however, that her stress begins, and it's possible you have sometimes been in a similar position. The majority of [...]

Shall I ask ‘if’ or ‘whether’?2021-04-23T21:14:57+10:00

Should that be I or me?


Our school teachers and parents misled us! They reprimanded us countless times when we said, "Me and Billy are going to the lolly shop." "Billy and I," they corrected. That in itself was fair enough, but the effect on many people is they no longer dare say, "Billy and me", or "my wife and me" – ever, and [...]

Should that be I or me?2021-05-27T14:49:28+10:00

Change the language in your Word document


This one’s the easiest tip in the toolbox! Most of our clients are Australian, but we notice their documents frequently come to us with MS Word’s language set to US English. This means Word’s spellchecker will be working in US English, too. Clients then end up with a mix of spelling, such as ‘organisation’ and [...]

Change the language in your Word document2022-03-30T17:22:15+10:00

Should I use upper or lower case for report headings?


Headings are best written in 'sentence case', according to most style guides nowadays. If you would like your report to look contemporary, keep unnecessary capital letters to a minimum. This helps it be readable and avoids an ugly ‘Manhattan skyline’ appearance. The Australian Government Style Manual, for example, prefers ‘sentence case’ (to ‘title case’) [...]

Should I use upper or lower case for report headings?2021-04-09T19:40:22+10:00

Writing lists with panache (and accuracy)


Bullet lists are useful for breaking up text. They help in plain language writing. However, too often it seems the list writer has become distracted and we see this – The Council is responsible for: ✅ collecting waste ✅ maintaining city streetscapes ✅ acting as planning authority ❌ local events must be run. So [...]

Writing lists with panache (and accuracy)2021-04-09T19:43:57+10:00

Using the word ‘however’


We often write the word ‘however’, but the many ways to use it cause punctuation grief. Here are some guidelines: 1. Use ‘however’ to begin a sentence ✅ Maddie ran a highly professional campaign. However, she lost the election. Note we need a comma after ‘However’. 2. Use however to join two simple sentences ✅ Maddie ran [...]

Using the word ‘however’2021-04-11T19:52:54+10:00