This category contains 31 posts

Note 171 – Is the spelling focussed or focused?

Is it focussed or focused?  A work colleague asked me how to spell this word today and I had to look it up.  The Colllins English dictionary and Merriam Webster‘s website indicated that both spellings were correct.  I decided to Google it to find out which is preferred. says “This word [focussed or focused] can take either double or … Continue reading

Note 164 – Should you put quotation marks around thoughts?

I realised today, when I was typing another blog post, that I wasn’t entirely sure if you should put quotation marks around thoughts.  In the forums there was a mixture of ‘yes’ and ‘no’ responses and some suggested putting the thought in italics, but nothing I read seemed good enough evidence for today’s blog.  I eventually stumbled upon an excellent article called ‘Grammar … Continue reading

Note 163 – Grammatical building blocks

To recap on yesterday’s blog in Note 162 – Language = Vocabulary + Grammar rules, grammar is the glue that holds the words together to form a language.   Today I am going to analyse a sentence word by word and if this brings up any new information that I haven’t covered before, it will form part of a future post. According … Continue reading

Note 162 – Language = Vocabulary + Grammar rules

Collins Improve your Writing Skills by Graham King explains that you require two keys for language to work as a communication tool – ‘vocabulary’ and ‘grammar’.  Vocabulary (words) will never work on their own without the grammar rules that sticks them together.  I won’t quote Graham King’s analogy on this until later down the page.  Here are a couple … Continue reading

Note 160 – Should you put a comma after ‘bracketing commas’?

This point came up in an email conversation today with a friend and I would like to thank him for the inspiration for today’s blog. I had previously told him that you shouldn’t put commas either side of bracketing commas (for more on this, see Note 3: The use of brackets and bracketing commas), or … Continue reading

Note 158 – Have you heard of the ‘interrobang’ punctuation mark?

  Did you know that another name for a question mark is “an interrogative point” and another name for an exclamation mark is “bang” in printer’s jargon (as cited in Wikipedia  When used together they are known as an interrobang and can look like either the attached image or ?! or !? The history of the interrobang … Continue reading

Note 157 – Multiple question marks and exclamation marks

It is unnecessary to add multiple exclamation marks (!!!!) or question marks (????) at the end of sentences. Daniel Scocco at Daily Writing Tips has written an article called ‘Punctuation Errors: Multiple Punctuation Marks’  and makes a very good point that we should trust the emphasis of the punctuation mark and not increase the number of them that we … Continue reading

Note 107 – The ‘Oxford comma’

The ‘Oxford comma’ is also known as the ‘serial comma’, or the ‘final comma’. The Oxford Dictionaries online explains that “the ‘Oxford comma’ is an optional comma before the word ‘and’ at the end of a list”. It was given this name because it was “traditionally used by printers, readers, and editors at Oxford … Continue reading

Note 105 – Punctuation with bullet points and lists

When preparing bullet points and lists, you may be confused by the following: whether to put a colon at the end of the sentence introducing your list. whether to capitalise the first word of each bullet point. what punctuation mark to put at the end of each each bullet point.  how to end your last bullet point. … Continue reading

Note 104 – Spaces before punctuation marks

I’m not in the habit of putting spaces before an exclamation mark, question mark, colon or semicolon, but I have seen others do it in emails and other typed pieces of work. My work colleague asked me to blog about this as it’s one of his pet hates! Here are a few examples of the … Continue reading


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