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welcome to the Word Constructions business ideas newsletter

Hello {name}! Welcome to a new edition of Word Constructions’ newsletter!

Was August as interesting for your business as it was for Australian politics? In just a few months we've had our first female Prime Minister and our first hung federal government - interesting times.

An election is of course a massive poll or survey, although not one I would want to run myself! Running surveys can be a very useful business tool, too. It can help you learn about what your customers want/like (or not), it involves customers so they have some sense of ownership and belonging, and it can increase interest in your website/shop as people visit to cast their vote.

However, surveys are often put together with grammatical and/or flow issues, as supported by today's poor example. I'm not sure if people just don't put enough effort into writing good survey questions or if they get too close and can't see the issues, but I frequently find problems in surveys (and quite a few of these errors make it into my blog!)

Like all business writing, survey errors can detract from the professional appeal of your message; unlike other writing, survey errors can make the entire project meaningless as a particularly poor question will not get real responses. For example, I recently was asked 'which brand offers function X? A, B, C or D' My answer was 'none' but without that option I randomly choose B so their answers are automatically skewed.

If you have any writing questions, please email me or add a comment in my blog. Have a great month, and use your words wisely!


Recent blog posts you may find useful:

Proof reading tips
social media relationships
expert presenters

P.S. If you are writing a survey, always get someone else to read it before you make it live. During September, I am offering 25% off all survey writing/editing - make sure you mention this note when booking as this special is for subscribers only.


In all affairs it's a healthy thing now and then to hang a question mark on the things you have long taken for granted.
Bertrand Russell

Judge of a man by his questions rather than by his answers.
- Voltaire

latest article

Using formatting styles
By Tash Hughes of Word Constructions

In most programs you use for writing, such as word processing and webpage editors, you can select a formatting style for the text or you can manually change the format of text.

It may seem quicker and easier to manually format text, especially if you are just making sub-headings bold, but styles don’t take much more effort once you are used to them and can offer a number of benefits. While the advantages are greater in longer documents, using formatting styles helps with

  • consistency (within and between documents)

  • making global adjustments (e.g. deciding to change level 3 headings from blue to green)

  • creating a table of contents (word processing programs can do this from the heading styles, and then update them as you change the document)

  • search engine optimisation (SEO) for webpages as words labelled as heading can carry more weight on the page

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don't forget the basics

What about parentheses?
By Tash Hughes of Word Constructions

Parentheses are ( ) and are commonly called brackets although this is not accurate; brackets are actually [ ] and have a different purpose to parentheses.

The difference is that brackets add clarity and/or detail to what was originally written or quoted and parentheses enclose additional information.

Without the parentheses, the extra information would clutter the sentence and make it hard to understand. With them in place, reader knows the information contained in the parentheses can be ignored to make sense of the sentence.

An example or two may help you understand their use:

I was walking home (it was raining) when I heard the crash.
It was my daughter (aged six at the time) who made the possum house.
These both are complete without the parentheses but the additional information adds to the meaning.

The accident happened on the Yarra River [Melbourne] last week.
Adding Melbourne in the brackets helps anyone who doesn’t know where the Yarra River is, without implying the original author included it.

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poor examples

Sometimes, the easiest way to learn the correct way to do something is to see it done poorly so in this section of my newsletter, I show you some real-life examples of writing that need a little help.

I found this example in a survey, and I suspect they got some meaningless results from it…


Who was the person who ate it with while eating it?

Issues with this example:

Pretty simple – it doesn’t make sense! I think the question is trying to find out whether people ate the item socially, alone, with family or such, but it took a bit of guess work to say that!

The biggest problem here is not using particulars – referring to more than one person in a sentence without using a name or other specific (such as you or I) often leads to confusion. Avoiding pronouns also avoids confusion.

 A better version would be: (without changing the meaning)

Who were you with while you were eating it?

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