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Reg Gothard - "Yonder Pedant"

Writing Faults

Em Dashes

This is part four of a four- or five-part series on dashes and hyphens that is intended to replace an earlier article. Part one deals purely with the mechanics of producing a given dash/rule/sign/glyph in a document using four MS Office products; Word, Excel, Powerpoint and Publisher. Part two deals with hyphenation, the different kinds […]

Clarity: Ambiguous Words

This week’s piece focuses on a couple of words that always cause confusion. What do you understand by the words biweekly, bimonthly, and biannually? And for bonus marks, what do you understand by bicentenary and bimillenary? Let’s use biweekly and bimonthly to illustrate the problem. They actually mean nearly the same thing. Or they don’t. […]

Bang! Exclaimed Mark

This week’s post is about another abused punctuation symbol—the exclamation mark (or exclamation point as it’s known in the USA). In our email/text/facebook world, exclamation marks are no longer loners—they now hunt in packs, causing peace-loving sentences to arch their backs, look big, and sound intimidating in some way. A large number of people now […]

Brevity, Clarity, Civility

Although the title of today’s piece sounds like a parody of the French national motto, it’s actually about balance; balance between being brief (concise), being clear, and being civil or polite. It’s reasonably well known that emails and texts can be misinterpreted. It’s also reasonably well known that a good deal of the underlying problem […]

Readability Scores

One of the things that surprised me when I trained to be a Technical Writer was the tutor’s assertion that we write to a grade eight level. (For those outside of North America, grade eight students are roughly 14 years old.) We were then pointed at the readability measurement feature of MS Word. The readability […]

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