The Power of Punctuation

The Power of Punctuation

Friday, March 24, 2017




  1. When is the simpler word the best? Almost always
    18 Jun, 2019
    When is the simpler word the best? Almost always
    In my job, I work with a lot of academics. These academics have an impressive knowledge of their area of expertise and can write a complex report with ease. However, sometimes, it can be difficult to break down their very subject specific language into words that the general reader will understand. And it can be surprisingly difficult to write in a way that is clear and simple. One of the first lessons I learnt in journalism was to write to the level of a child who is in the latter years of
  2. Tips for managing the media
    08 Aug, 2018
    Tips for managing the media
    In some ways, the label ‘media management’ is an oxymoron. Realistically, it is impossible to manage what a journalist is going to write about your organisation or company. Recently, Coles supermarkets experienced the truth of how difficult it can be to control their own message in the media when it introduced its new plastic toys, which were given to customers spending over $30, just after it had introduced its no-plastic bag policy. While Coles might have liked to attract favourable coverage
  3. The evolution of one particular 'rude' word
    28 Feb, 2018
    The evolution of one particular 'rude' word
    There was a time when ‘bloody’ and ‘bum’ were too rude for conversation, whether polite or less-so. But more recently, I have realised that another word has joined their ranks: fart. This hit home when I was, of all places, in the children’s section of the bookstore. Emblazoned on several covers was ‘fart’, on Nobody Likes a Fart, Old MacDonald Heard a Fart and Girls Don’t Fart. At risk of sounding more at home watching Betty White in The Golden Girls than Lena Dunham in Girls, I was surprised
  4. Little words make a big impression when it comes to names
    07 Feb, 2018
    Little words make a big impression when it comes to names
    Would we still view Melbourne in the same way if it had been named Batmania? That is the question put forward by Jenny Brown in The Age on 4 February. Batmania was suggested by the city's co-founder, John Batman, in 1835. But would the name have enhanced the reputation of the city, reflecting as it did that of a superhero? Or would it detract from its credibility as a centre for art and culture? Similarly, would Carlton have maintained its role as an important culinary and educational
  5. The words that bring Christmas carols to life
    27 Dec, 2017
    The words that bring Christmas carols to life
    Christmas carols might be the bane of retail workers’ lives, but for many of us, they are one of the most enjoyable elements of the Christmas season. Full of love, joy, heaven and angels, it is hard not to feel uplifted by words that we rarely hear any other time of year. While many might not agree with the religious sentiment of the songs, Christmas carols continue to convey a wider sense of peace and love that appeals to many more than just the pious church-goer. But it is not just the
  6. Distinguishing between meaning and tone in emails
    09 Sep, 2016
    Distinguishing between meaning and tone in emails
    Some words and phrases become so overused that we fail to read them. They might be typed on a page in front of us, but we are so familiar with their meaning that we skip over them, bypassing them in favour of words which might teach, inform or interest us. And so it is with the phrase used so commonly now in emails, and in letters of the past, “I hope you are well”. The New York Magazine recently called on office workers to strike the phrase from their communications, such was its meaningless.
  7. Words can be beautiful, ugly and deceiving
    23 Aug, 2016
    Words can be beautiful, ugly and deceiving
    There is a beautiful village in England, all stone walls and flower boxes, called Upper Slaughter, and another called Lower Slaughter. The macabre place names could not be further removed from the reality of these little villages in the Cotswolds. And so, in my mind, a word suggestive of violence and death has come to be associated with a place of beauty. Words can be beautiful, ugly, illuminating or deceptive, depending not just on their literal meanings, but also on the way they sound, look
  8. The tyranny of tech talk
    07 Jul, 2016
    The tyranny of tech talk
    I have always felt all at sea when confronted with numbers. At the mere hint of an equation, my brain jumps ship and swims for a far off shore. However, in the face of my poor math skills, I have consoled myself with the knowledge that I feel comfortable navigating the world of words. Having read books obsessively since my teens, I have seen too many words not to have developed a decent vocabulary along the way. But, lately, I have started to feel out of my depth as a whole new continent of
  9. If only a magnifying glass could help us spot our typos!
    22 Jun, 2016
    Why it is so hard to spot a typo in your own work?
    There is nothing easier than spotting a typo in news story you are reading. It lies there, glaring at you, begging for you to see it. Unless, that is, you have written the article yourself. No matter how many times you might have read over your writing, it can be so easy for you to look past a mistake. And while this propensity might make you feel stupid, you can cheer yourself with the knowledge that the opposite is actually the case. Psychologist Tom Stafford from the University of