The Grammar Factor: capitals in titles and headings, punctuation with brackets

By Mary Morel | May 2016 Capital letters in titles and headings There are two ways of using capital letters in titles and headings: In title case, the first and last words, proper nouns (name of people and places) and ‘important’ words have initial capitals. (‘Important’ words are nouns, pronouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs and someContinue reading

The Grammar Factor: styles with lists, gender-neutral pronoun, tree failure

By Mary Morel | April 2016 Styles for bulleted lists I’m sure we’ve all read documents that use different list styles within a few pages. I sometimes wonder if writers have copied and pasted material from elsewhere and forgotten to proofread it. Some of the inconsistencies include: Type of bullet point, e.g. round black, roundContinue reading

The Grammar Factor: shortened words, email greetings, dependent/dependant

By Mary Morel | March 2016 Styles for shortened words Last month I looked at acronyms, and this month I am looking at shortened words and contractions. Shortened words When a word is abbreviated after the first few letters, the traditional rule is to put a full stop after the abbreviation. If the abbreviation comesContinue reading

The Grammar Factor: acronyms, missing and hated words, taming templates

By Mary Morel | February 2016 Acronyms The common convention if you want to use an acronym is to spell out the full term the first time and put the acronym in brackets. Then you can use the acronym for the rest of the document. Australian Taxation Office (ATO) All acronyms are abbreviated with capitals,Continue reading

The Grammar Factor: spacing after end punctuation, capitals

By Mary Morel | January 2016 Spacing after end punctuation Question: Should you use one or two spaces after end punctuation? Answer: One space. The Australian Commonwealth Style manual: for authors, editors and printers says: ‘In typewritten (as distinct from typeset) material, it was customary to place two spaces after a colon, semicolon, full stop orContinue reading

The Grammar Factor: writing styles, apostrophes, appendices/appendixes

By Mary Morel | December 2015 Do styles matter for internal documents? Someone recently asked me what to do if you’re working with different managers who have their own preferred styles, for example, on list punctuation and whether a page should be right-ragged or fully justified. If your organisation has a style guide, the obviousContinue reading

The Grammar Factor: writing in the third person, double possessive

Third person writing A reader’s comment about the conversational use of ‘you’ (see ‘Pet peeve’ below), and the article referenced below about ‘we’, made me think about the use of third person writing. In formal business writing, such as board papers and business cases, most writing guidelines encourage writers to use the third person. TheContinue reading

The Grammar Factor: hanging hyphens, compound adjectives, 20 years’ or years experience

By Mary Morel | August 2015 Hanging hyphens A colleague consulted me this month about hanging hyphens (also called suspended or floating hyphens). For example: ‘short- and long-term plans’. I don’t like hanging hyphens, so I would write ‘short and long-term plans’. I think omitting the hanging hyphen is cleaner, but since that is notContinue reading

The Grammar Factor: commas with ‘and’, ‘myself’, ‘whose’ for things

Commas with ‘and’ Several business writers have told me they were taught never to put a comma before ‘and’. Now, I could understand if they’d been told not to put one after ‘and’, but before? So I decided to look at occasions when we can use a comma before ‘and’. There are two occasions whereContinue reading

The Grammar Factor: writing standards, while/whilst, can?

Writing standards for clear communication Dana Skopal, PhD, wrote a blog for my Write to Govern website recently, but what she says applies to all writing. Here’s an excerpt from the blog: ‘Many people would view writing as putting sentences together and using correct grammar and punctuation. Sentences, grammar and punctuation may have been howContinue reading


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