Hyphens

Are you a short story writer? Or a short-story writer? Would you rather do business with a pickled herring monger or a pickled-herring monger? In the first example, the ‘short story writer’ is a writer who is short in stature, while the ‘short-story writer’ is some one who writes stories that are short. We don’t …

Email etiquette

[Adapted from: Netmanners and The Effective Emailer and Email Replies] Perception is the only reality online. In an appropriate context, a cryptic exchange of messages can be a mutually understood method of communication between two people. In most cases, however, it is courteous to follow the conventions of effective communication. Why do companies need to implement …

Dates

My spelling is Wobbly. It's good spelling but it Wobbles, and the letters get in the wrong places. - Winnie the Pooh The standard date format in Australian and UK English is Day Date Month, e.g. 30 October 2010 (not 30th); unless the document is a standard tender form that has ‘Signed this [30th] day …

Colons and semi-colons

Semi-colons should be used to mark a pause longer than a comma and shorter than a full stop. Don't overdo them. Use them to distinguish phrases listed after a colon if commas will not do the job clearly.