Blog

1 December, 2020

You are not Marco Polo

All organisations develop their own dialect – a verbal or linguistic shorthand that is readily understood. The problem comes when words or phrases are overused and we lose precision and accuracy in what we say. In December 2020, we present […]
1 December, 2020

Our top tips for 2020

If 2020 has taught us anything it’s that we need to communicate well during a crisis. So here are tips from the United States Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, which we published back in May. These are still the […]
1 December, 2020

Transfer of power in a democracy

In a democracy, with great power comes great responsibility. And sometimes, a bare minimum display of decorum is all what we ask for … Over the years where each passing president has shared their thoughts and wisdom with their successors. […]
1 December, 2020

In 2020, some people inspired us

The truth is 2020 has been a pretty average year. So we’d like to recognise those who’ve done amazing work and made Australia a better place. One First place goes to the people of Victoria. Stoic, resilient and courageous in […]
1 December, 2020

Blackwhite – December

The Government of China is displeased with Australia for 14 specific reasons. We reprint these as an example of incoherent government-speak. Sometimes, however hard you try, black just cannot appear as white. Apparently Australia has erred by: banning Huawei 5G […]
1 December, 2020

This is Julia …

In one of our workshops, ‘Working effectively at APS 3–4’, a participant was reflecting on what integrity means in the modern public service. Inspiration came from our senior facilitator, Dr Julia Cornwell McKean, who was running this workshop. The things […]
25 November, 2020

All your writing has tone. Be aware of it.

Imagine you’ve sent this to a colleague: ‘Feel like a drink after work?’ And you get this reply: ‘Dear Mike, thank you for your message of 2.34 pm today suggesting that we should meet for drinks after work this afternoon. […]
18 November, 2020

Disability as an uncountable noun

The new Australian Government Style Manual advises us only to use disability in the uncountable form. This reflects the view that specific references to disability are stigmatising and do not treat their subjects as people first. So, write ‘person with […]
11 November, 2020

Tone, voice and register

Tone and voice … What’s the difference? And how can they help us write appropriately for our audience? With these tools we can address formality and the relationship between reader and writer. They also tell us more about who is […]
9 November, 2020

To write well, you need to imagine your reader

Plain language writing means writing that’s clear and concise and avoids long words and complicated grammar. In business and government writing its tone is usually neutral – neither too casual nor too formal. Why do it? Mainly because it’s easier […]
2 November, 2020

The first question for any piece of writing: how long should it be?

It’s a fine spring morning in 1862 on the rural estate of Yasnaya Polyana, 200 kilometres south of Moscow. In the study, Leo Tolstoy is sharpening his pencils, ready to put down some ideas for a new book. ‘Genre? A […]
30 October, 2020

We’re talking probity in our next webinar

On 27 November, in our next webinar, we’re talking probity, integrity and procurement in a time of COVID-19. Our reasons are simple: our governments are accountable for what they do and how they do it. They are responsible for ensuring […]
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