Including all the facts

During my time as a reporter and editor I was responsible for binning hundreds of stories sent in by various businesses. There were many reasons but a lot of them didn’t contain all the facts the reader would have wanted to know. I have also seen the same thing in promotional material for everything from church fetes to industrial products.

As junior reporters we were taught we needed to include the 5 Ws in our stories. The Ws refer to the basic questions that people need answers to when finding out about something. We should always make sure that our business communications answer all five of them. Otherwise, there is a risk that customers or potential customers won’t bother to ask for the missing info and go elsewhere.

The 5Ws are:

  • What
  • Why
  • Where
  • When
  • Who

If you answer all those for readers in your writing you tell them what they need to know. In my personal experience an H standing for ‘How Much?’ is usually an important question to answer as well.


Language matters # 2


Getting apostrophes right is not hard when you remember they are used to indicate possession or there are letters missing in a word. This week I saw:

… you’re brother …

Your is one of those words that indicates possession and doesn’t take an apostrophe. The apostrophe indicates there are missing letters so that you’re means ‘you are’ which is clearly wrong in that context.

See my presentation on Slideshare with more info on using apostrophes.



Language matters # 1

One very common writing mistake is the incorrect use of words and I will be drawing attention to some I notice. This week’s misused words are:

 compliment & complement

If there is a pli in the word it means there is no cost for something or that praise is being given. If there is a ple the word refers to things that complete each other.


  • Jane complimented me on my writing and handed me a voucher for a complimentary meal.
  • Bob and Jane complemented each other perfectly and made a lovely couple.



Knowledge obsolesence

And a free skills upgrade for Queenslanders

Links in chain of learning.
Links in the chain of learning.

There was a time when the knowledge you gained at the beginning of your career would more or less serve for your entire working life. These days things move so fast that some or all of what you know can become obsolete overnight.

This was rammed home forcefully late last year when my position was made redundant and I decided to use some of the spare time I gained to polish my skills. My main focus has always been content creation but I have had a sideline in developing, maintaining and hosting websites since the early 1990s. I therefore decided I would take a course or two on the subject and was amazed at how much had changed while I wasn’t looking.

Read more…