When Words Collide - One Woman's Fight to Change the Word

Ukraine Chief of Staff Admits No Russian Troops in Donetsk / Sputnik International

Ukraine Chief of Staff Admits No Russian Troops in Donetsk / Sputnik International.

Posted in Journalism Tagged with: ,

Welcome to a New Calendar Year!


It’s a new year, albeit the end of the first month. The year doesn’t really start until the holidays are over, does it? Then we drag ourselves back to work, back to school or university or back to the writing desk and try to wake the grey cells up.

For those who are beginning university study this year, it may be well to go over a few well-worn pieces of advice. I’m certain that these wise words have been handed down from student to student for decades, but they are worth repeating for those who have not yet heard them.

Twelve years of school drudgery are behind you, and you are entering an adult world of research and truth, right? Once you eagerly soak up the knowledge and insights that your generous teachers will impart to you, the words will flow from your fingers onto the computer screen, right? (I would once have said, ‘…the words would flow from your pen…’, but that is just giving away my age.)

Wrong. University study is exciting and you will make many wonderful discoveries, but it also involves a lot of hard slog and late nights of reading, research and writing.

I must admit that I am being rather pessimistic, but I operate under the adage, ‘Be prepared for the worst, and hope for the best.’ If you are prepared for the worst, you can deal with everything between that and the best possible position.

Here we go…

  1. Read the material

All the notes and readings are given to you for a reason. When you go over your material at the beginning of the semester, ensure you have all the materials. In your mind (or even on a notepad), total up the time you think you will require for reading your materials at least twice – as you write your assessments, you will then go back and refer to these core readings as you compile your notes.

  1. Time management

Five or six weeks between assessment pieces feels like a lot of time at the beginning, but remember that in full-time study you are juggling all the elements from four subjects, so time management is a must! Running to lectures, revising print articles and listening to podcasts, attending study groups and finding time for private study – is there enough time for all of this as well as maintaining your social and home life and perhaps part-time work? Did I forget to mention you might need time to eat and sleep?

All of this sounds overwhelming, yet it would take only a little management at the beginning of your course to set up a timetable that will take you through the whole semester.

  1. Research

As well as reading the course materials, you will also be researching your own information from various sources. This also takes time, and you need to organise your timetable so that you ‘finish’ the assessment at least a couple of days before the due date. This will ensure that you have time to reread and revise your work and its elements, thereby giving you time to include those extra pieces of information you almost forgot, or expand an idea or perspective that strikes you as insightful on rereading the piece as a whole. This extra work may entail a revisit to your research.

This extra work is essential if you want your assessment task to shine as a comprehensive, polished piece of writing. Without it, you can probably pass, but this additional polish can earn extra marks and set a higher personal standard.

  1. Before you hit send…

The last read-through you will do before submitting your assessment piece will be for a proofread. This is essential! Some tutors see spelling, grammar and punctuation errors as minor infractions whilst others will zealously take off a mark or two to teach you to be more careful with your language.

Spelling is easily corrected – invest in a Concise Macquarie Dictionary Ed. 6 (for my Australian readers). It does not take long to look up the correct spelling of a tricky word, and then you will spell it correctly forever (hopefully)!

Grammar and punctuation are somewhat symbiotic; the one affects the other. The simplest way to check is to read your assessment out loud – imagine that someone in authority (teacher, journalist, etc.) is reading it – you will hear the awkwardness in incorrect phrasing.

Most of these errors are highlighted in MS-Word or Adobe Acrobat, so they are sometimes easily identified and corrected.

In Closing…

These are only a few issues that can help you in a general way; I will be expanding on these (and others) in future posts.

Obviously my main focus is to assist as a proofreader, copyeditor and writer. If you need any assistance in these areas, please visit my home page, email your questions, or ask for a quote.


Posted in Academic Tagged with: , , , , , , ,

‘The Interweb Tort Me My Speling’

The prevalence of social media has exposed us to the spelling and writing habits of the world. That would not be a problem if we Australians had a solid grounding in literature and an awareness of the problems that may be encountered when writing on the World Wide Web.

Having placed a post recently, I was derided for the spelling of the word ‘colour’ by an American commenter; he obviously was not aware that the world does not spell as the US spells. I let it go unremarked – what does it matter that one person on the other side of the world thinks I am an idiot for not spelling ‘color’ correctly? (My spellchecker has underlined the word in red as misspelled. Good spellchecker!)

These inconsistencies, if we are insecure about our spelling abilities (and too lazy to check a dictionary to see which is correct) can seep into our own writing.

“What does it matter?” I hear you say. It matters because these changes will show up in our daily lives as errors – does it matter if you spell words incorrectly in your workplace? Perhaps your colleagues won’t notice, but your customers and clients may pick it up. Prospective employers reading your resume will notice, prospective clients who read your advertising will notice. At ‘best’ it will be assumed you are from the USA, at worst you will look as if you cannot be bothered to check the dictionary or learn to spell correctly.

My point is that spelling is not really an issue when writing as a private person on a social forum such as Facebook, but when we let it creep into our business it can have a detrimental effect on our image.

When I was at school, we were given a list of words that were most likely to be misspelled; the books we read were usually printed in England, Australia, or the USA, so our spelling skills were subject to a continual battle between UK English and American English. Here are a few of those words that I have seen lately.


UK English American English
Words such as recognise, Anglicise, patronise all end in –ise. Those same words (and others like them) end in –ize.
Words such as labour, fervour, colour all end in –our. Those same words (and others like them) end in –or.
Jewellery Jewelry
Words such as centre, fibre, lustre all end in –re. Those same words (and others like them) end in –er.
Analyse Analyze


There are many other instances that bear research if you are interested in the subject. It may be enough to be aware that there are such differences.

Let us know if you have any other examples that jump out at you all the time – it never hurts to be kept on our toes!


Posted in Business Tagged with: , , , , , ,