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All about Words: exclamation marks, why I wrote an online board paper course

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exclamation marks

By Mary Morel | February 2017

Exclamation marks

What are your views on exclamation marks? People seem to either love them or hate them.

I was interviewed on 2UE breakfast radio this month – listen and see who you agree with!

Reader’s question

Question: Would you use a dash or colon with the following?

Workplaces are constantly changing. Their dynamics can change overnight.

Workplaces are constantly changing – their dynamics can change overnight.
Workplaces are constantly changing: their dynamics can change overnight.

Answer: My first response was to use a dash, but on reflection if would depend on the context. A dash is more informal than a colon. I would use a dash in emails and web copy, but I would seldom use a dash in more formal writing.

Learn more about punctuation with my online course, An A to Z of Punctuation. (Just $39)

Readers’ feedback

A reader said that ‘mansplain is a very appropriate descriptor of what some men (not all men) do, and it certainly seems to be a male trait rather than a female trait’.

A reader suggested reading your work backwards.

Name change
Several people asked me why I changed the name of this e-newsletter. I still find grammar fascinating, but my other specialty is board papers, and all aspects of writing interest me.

My blog and podcast

Why I wrote an online board paper course
I’ve written a blog post about how organisations can tailor my board paper course to suit their templates and board requirements.

How to write about financial information in board reports and papers
Listen to my podcast with Chris Mamarelis, CEO of The Whiddon Group, about writing about finances in board reports and papers. He stresses the importance of being clear about your key messages.

Facebook group

The Online Writing Training Facebook group this month discussed topics such as:

  • Prepositions (bored with, by, of; waiting on, waiting for)
  • ‘Onboarding’
  • which, that and who
  • en and em rules

Join us.

Interesting articles about writing

How statistics lost their power – and why we should fear what comes next
‘In theory, statistics should help settle arguments. They ought to provide stable reference points that everyone – no matter what their politics – can agree on. Yet in recent years, divergent levels of trust in statistics has become one of the key schisms that have opened up in western liberal democracies.’ Read more.

How the months got their names
I have always known that January was named after the Roman god Janus who protected gates and faced both ways, but didn’t know about the other months. Find out more.

How to introduce two people in writing
Read some practical introduction tips by business writer and trainer Lynn Gaertner-Johnston.

How to improve anything you write in 2 minutes
I try to delete ‘I think’ if I spot it. What word or phrase do you tend to use unnecessarily? Read more.

The Highly Selective Dictionary for the Extraordinarily Literate
Would you buy a book with that title?

Phrase of the month

The Macquarie Dictionary word (phrase) of 2016 was:

Halal snack pack
The people have spoken... a lot about the halal snack pack in the past year.

I had never heard this phrase, but learnt (thanks to the Facebook group) that this term was a political hot potato (without the potato) in Australia last year because Pauline Hanson, a well-known Australian politician, refused the offer of Sam Dasteyari, who was a NSW Minister at the time, to have this Muslim snack. (Photo: Edwina Pickles.)

Quote of the month

‘It was all in my head and now all I had to do was figure out a way to get it down on paper.’
Ann Patchett

I have just read Commonwealth by Ann Patchett and am in awe of her talent.