Are you going forward with you plans to implement quality incremental contingencies? Or perhaps you need a more blue-sky approach to regenerated reciprocal options in order to dehomogenise strategic prioritisations in line with projected transitional paradigm shifts?

If so, it’s more likely you need to think about speaking in plain English.

Believe it or not, writing like this is still a thing in some quarters. Bureaucracies, large organisations and universities seem more likely than most to fall into this buzzwordy, nebulous management-speak. The history of it is quite interesting; you can read a 2014 article in the Atlantic about it here.

There are plenty of recent examples. The Plain English Campaign, for example, has a yearly award for the best and the worst examples of written English. The collection of finalists for the Golden Bull Award, which ‘rewards’ the worst examples, has some absolute howlers:

Reorienting linear-thinking decision-makers toward exponential possibilities can be challenging, but it is necessary if you want to get out ahead of the curve – or even just to keep pace with technological change that shows no signs of slowing down.

(Deloitte Digital, 2018)

I think they’re trying to say the pace of change is increasing and, stuff?

The Strategic Matrix is intended to facilitate the cross-cutting interactions our staff and students are seeking in order to secure the benefits of linking across faculties, schools, divisions, disciplines and other organisational boundaries. The vertical axis – our Schools, Faculties and Divisions. The eight Faculties and Divisions, along with our Canberra campus and the 50 Schools within them form the vertical axis of the UNSW Strategic Matrix. The horizontal axis – our strategic priorities, themes and enablers. The three strategic priorities, which have emerged from the consultation – Academic Excellence, Social Engagement and Global Impact – and the eight themes that sit within them, along with our strategic enablers, form the horizontal axis of our Strategic Matrix.

(University of New South Wales, 2017)

Oh yes, matrices. The last matrix I saw was that Keanu Reeves one.

The ART – Hub for Territorial Partnerships is a UNDP’s global project that is geared at harnessing the potential of territorial partnerships through a variety of modalities, such as Decentralized Cooperation, South-South and triangular cooperation. ART is therefore an entry point for all international cooperation actors interested in harmonizing their respective actions in support of national and sub-national policies for sustainable and local human development. According to its new Project Document 2015-2017 and in support of UNDP’s overall Framework on Local Governance and Local Development (LGLD), ART aims at strengthening and expanding the existing alliance between UNDP and Decentralized Cooperation partners in support of the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at local level. ART also seeks to strengthen the potential and role of Local and Regional Governments (LRGs) as development partners and to promote the principles of development cooperation effectiveness.

(UN Development Program job description, 2016)

Look, it’s all well and good to laugh at corporate babble but it really is a problem, for a couple of reasons.

First, the point of writing is to make yourself understood. It’s a form of communication and if you’re not getting across what you need to get across then there’s a problem. There’s a reason we don’t do bird dances or bark like dogs: nobody would understand (except maybe the local pheasants). Some of the jargon-laden stuff that’s produced is about as comprehensible as humpback whale songs. Written material like that isn’t going to have the impact you want it to.

Second, it masks poorly thought out ideas. Often, the more muddled the underlying thinking the more jargony the language can become. We don’t know quite what to say so we just muddle through.

Last, this jargony language can be pernicious in some cases, particularly where it descends into euphemism: ‘streamlining’ can really mean cost cutting and job losses (same with nonsense and, frankly, insulting ones like ‘career alternative enhancement’ or ‘career ‘transition’).

Whatever happened to saying what you mean and meaning what you say? There’s a lot to be said for being clear and direct. Use it to your advantage.




5 VERY Expensive Writing Mistakes

Look, everyone’s guilty of a typo here and there. But, depending what you’re writing spelling, grammar and punctuation mistakes can be quite expensive.

Here’s ten of the most expensive writing mistakes.

5. Barker’s Bible

The damage: eternal damnation

In 1631, King Charles I ordered 1000 copies of the Bible from a bloke named Robert Barker. Barker obliged and delivered all 1000 copies.

The problem was, the seventh commandment in Exodus read ‘thou shalt commit adultery.’ The King and Parliament were less then amused and all 1000 copies were destroyed.

4. Proofread your ads

The damage: $502 996

Turns out old beer is expensive. A seller on Ebay listed a bottle of Allsopps Arctic Ale dating back to 1852. But, in the ad he wrote ‘Allsops’ instead of Allsopps, meaning that collectors (yes, there are old beer collectors) wouldn’t be able to find it.

It ended up selling for $304. The guy who bought it, however, knew exactly what he’d bought and resold the bottle for $503 300.


3. Everybody wins!

The damage: $50 million

A car dealership in came up with a marketing campaign that involved mailing out scratchies, one of which would have a $1000 prize. But, the marketing company responsible for creating the tickets accidentally made all 50 000 tickets a grand-prize winner. The dealership ended up offering gift certificates in lieu of the money.

2. The most expensive hyphen in history

The damage: $80 million

Mariner 1 was meant to go to Venus. But it didn’t get very far because it exploded only minutes after takeoff. The culprit? A missing hyphen in the code.

1. Sell sell sell

The damage: $225 million+

Folks, if you’re trading stocks you’ll want to check what you type in is actually right before hitting the sell button. Mizuho Securities was offering shares of J-Com Co at 610 000 yen per share. Seems pretty good right? Except a trader at Mizuho sold 610 000 shares at 1 yen per share.




phd thesis editing books

Working With a Thesis Editor

Are you a Masters student or a PhD student looking to hire a thesis editor? Here is some information and things you should think about to make the editing experience as easy as possible for both you and your editor.

The Institute of Professional Editors (IPEd) has some information on their website for thesis supervisors and students. However, IPEd’s resources focus on what to do after an editor has been engaged rather than the process of engaging an editor in the first place. This article focuses on the latter.

What does a thesis editor do?

IPEd has guidelines that set out the kinds of things a thesis editor can and cannot do. You should familiarise yourself with these guidelines. Your university may also have policies or guidelines that must be followed when graduate students engage third-party editors for their work. You should locate and familiarise yourself with these as well.

When should I contact a thesis editor?

Ideally, around 4 months before you want to have your thesis edited. Editors are often booked up weeks or sometimes months in advance and you need to allow enough lead time to ask for quotes, choose a thesis editor and have your thesis edited.

What’s the best way to contact an editor?

Email is usually the best way (we prefer email as well). Your email should include your name, the title and subject area of your thesis, the word count, the type of editing required and the submission date.

Once you engage an editor, you should provide a Word copy of your thesis, a brief for the editor, style sheet and referencing style guide.

How much will I be charged?

Thesis editor rates vary from company to company, but the market rate for a 75 000 word thesis is right around $2500. Some thesis editing companies will offer a discount to graduate students (we get limited budgets and thesis prep reimbursements are limited). That said, you should still expect to pay at least $1000 for a 75 000 word thesis.

A quote for less than that should make you wary about the quality of the editing work.

How do I write an editing brief?

IPEd has a resource on writing an editing brief. You should include one with your instructions to your editor and you must think through what you want your editor to do and not to do.

Be mindful of the IPEd Guidelines and any relevant university policies when deciding what to ask you editor to do.

How long will it take to edit my thesis?

You should budget for a two to three week turnaround for a proper and detailed edit of a 75 000 thesis. In a pinch, an editor may be able to get it back to you in a week.

The editor will probably send you back a Word document with track changes and any comments. A PDF of your edited thesis will also be provided.

You will need to have enough time to work through all of the changes your editor proposed. Build in about a week to review all the suggestions.

rand31 provides professional editing, proofreading and writing services to clients in Australia and around the world. We specialise in academic editing.



person writing editing or proofreading

10 Tips for Better Writing

Want to improve your writing? Here are 10 tips that will help you do just that. Whether you’re writing a PhD thesis, a blog post or a business report you’ll be able to up the quality of your work.

1. Put the document aside and come back to it later

Take a break. Close the Word doc and do something else for a while. When you return to writing or editing you’ll find that you’re more focused and more objective. Concentration is key, especially when editing and proofreading, and if you find your eyes start glazing over a bit it’s best to take a break.

Make sure you budget enough time so that you can properly edit.

2. Don’t write and edit at the same time

Write first and edit later. When you’re writing don’t worry about spelling or style. These things can be fixed up later during the editing process. Writing, especially writing first drafts, is all about getting ideas down on paper. You can shape and form these ideas later.

3. Don’t edit and edit and edit and edit and edit and…

Put the document down, son. We all know that feeling of never being quite satisfied with written work and constantly fiddling with it as a consequence. You have to let it go.

4. No clichés. They’re a fate worse than death

This one’s an oldie but a goodie. Editors get a bee in their bonnets about clichés and you can bet your bottom dollar they’ll have a bone to pick with you if they spot any.

It’s better to be safe than sorry. Blaze a new trail and avoid clichés.

5. Proofread on paper. Edit on the screen

It can be hard to catch our typos while reading on a screen. It’s best to do hardcore proofreading using a hard copy. Errors are easier to pick up.

6. Proofread footnotes too

If you’re working on a Masters or PhD thesis, don’t neglect your footnotes. Pay attention to format and style according to the relevant style guide. Also, try increasing the font size on your footnotes for proofreading purposes. It will make them easier to read.

7. Get rid of wordiness

Once you’ve finished a first draft, read it and ruthlessly cut any unnecessary words or phrases. Here are some common words or phrases that should be revised or just deleted:

  • ‘Due to the fact that’ — use’ because’
  • ‘For the purpose of’ — use ‘to + verb’
  • ‘In the even that’ — use ‘if’
  • ‘In order to’ — use ‘to’
  • ‘certainly’, ‘absolutely’, ‘definitely’, ‘completely’ — delete
  • ‘very’, ‘even’ ‘just’, ‘really’ — delete

8. Use short sentences

The only exception to this rule is if you’re David Foster Wallace. I guarantee you’re not so limit sentences to 15 to 20 words. The occasional long sentence is fine but don’t make a habit of it.

9. Make your writing specific

Instead of writing ‘John was a nice man’, tell the reader what it was about John that made him nice. Readers like concrete details and writing in generalities does not add a lot or engage the reader as much as specific facts.

10. Use headings

Headings are are key organisational tool, especially if you’re writing academic, non-fiction or business documents. No one wants to read a mass of text. Headings break up the document and give the reader an idea of what you’re going to talk about and where you’re going to talk about it.


editing proofreading smartphone macbook

SEO Fundamentals

If you aren’t having much success getting traffic to your website or online business it could mean that your site isn’t properly optimised. Without proper search engine optimisation (SEO) you won’t have much luck in search rankings or site traffic.

Here are some of the basics of SEO to get you started.

Keywords keywords keywords

Keywords are the foundation of search engine optimisation. Basically what you’re doing with keywords is integrating words or phrases that people search for into your website content so that your site shows up when people search for those words or phrases.

Using keywords is a bit of an art. More is not necessarily better, for two reasons. First plugging your written content full of keywords can make the writing sound unnatural and stilted:

Get more hits with search engine optimisation. Effective search engine optimisation means you will rank higher in searches compared to sites that don’t use search engine optimisation. Search engine optimisation will get more content in front of more people and search engine optimisation is a great online marketing strategy.

In addition to the resulting bad prose, the other reason to avoid excessive use of keywords is that search engines will actually penalise you in search rankings if they think your content is just packs of keywords.

The trick with keywords is to use them effectively. You should be doing things like:

  • Using your primary keyword in the title of the content (webpage, blog post, video, etc)
  • Using keywords in the description
  • Using keywords in the first 50 words of text

Front-end the keywords, don’t keep repeating keywords and don’t litter them throughout the content. You’ll get much better results this way.

Choosing keywords

Keywords that have the highest frequency in search engines are the most popular searches. You might think that these are the best keywords to integrate into your content, but this isn’t always the case. Competition for top results with these popular searches is fierce and you may not have much luck.

Instead, try looking for mid-range or long-tail keywords (i.e. less popular keywords) that may have less popularity but also less competition.

Optimise your images

Any good website has more than giant blocks of text. Did you know you can change the alt tags, image tags and file names for your images? When search engines like Google crawl your website they pick up not only written content but also data about the images on your website.

A well-optimised image can show up in search results and lead to more traffic on your website. Use the same principles as for written content if you start renaming images on your site.

Use an SEO tool

There are may SEO tools you can use to make sure you’re using the right keywords and doing everything right to increase your visibility in search engines. Some are paid and some are free, like Google’s various tools. You should spend some time finding out what will work best for you.

rand31 provides professional editing, proofreading and writing services to client in Australia and around the world (web content included)

ebook editing proofreading

Hire an ebook Editor

The internet is full of content. It’s constantly pushed in front of us in the form of blogs, tweets, comments, posts and articles. Why will your ebook stand out? And why should a reader pay to read what you wrote?

Readers rely on credibility when determining the value of written work. They won’t slog through subpar content or writing in the hopes of finding something interesting or valuable and subpar content does not equal credibility. An ebook editor builds and ensures the credibility and profressionalism of your written work. Publishing a book is difficult as it is and this is why editing is so essential to your book’s success.

Expert writing skills

For first time ebook writers an ebook editor is essential. The ability write well is something that takes time to develop and a less experienced writer is guaranteed to benefit from the suggestions and advice of a more experienced ebook editor. Also, ebook editors can give you advice not only about spelling, grammar and punctuation, but also the more creative aspects of writing such as organisational structure, flow and tone of the writing.

Professionalism is key

Your writing is an extension of your brand. If written work is awkward, sloppy or unclear it reflects poorly on the author and the authority of your brand. An ebook editor can ensure that your ideas are expressed clearly and succinctly. If the writing is good, the author or the company will look like the professional organisation that it is.

Engaging a professional editing service can significantly increase the quality of your ebook. It can mean the difference between a successful stand-out publication and becoming part of the internet’s background noise.

rand31 provides editing, proofreading and writing services to clients in Australia and around the world.

George Orwell’s 6 Rules for Writing

George Orwell – best known as the author of 1984 and Animal Farm – published an essay in 1946 called Politics and the English Language. You can find a copy of the essay here. In the essay Orwell draws attention to what he sees as the awful (and even dangerous) written English and, in particular, the political language of his time. Orwell saw political language as being deliberately unclear in order to hide the truth, ‘to make lies sound truthful…and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.’

Political writing, along with certain other kinds of writing are in Orwell’s view guilty of ‘pretentious diction’ and using ‘meaningless words’, the result of which is pretentious, lifeless and sometimes just meaningless writing.

Orwell’s solution was 6 rules that would prevent writers from slipping into this kind of bad English. The rules are worth following and would still prove useful to some written work even today. Here are the rules:

1. Never use a metaphor, simile or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.

2. Never use a long word where a short on will do.

3. If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.

4. Never use the passive voice where you can use the active.

5. Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.

6. Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.

The quality of writing coming from some government departments, corporations, management consultants and others would improve substantially if these rules were taken to heart.

rand 31 provides editing, proofreading and writing services to clients in Australia and around the world.

The Difference Between Editing and Proofreading

Editing and proofreading are often used interchangeably. However, the two are different in some important ways. This guide sets out the difference between editing and proofreading so that you can better evaluate which one (or both) would suit you best and make an informed choice as to what your require.

What is editing?

Editing is a process that involves improving the quality and clarity of your writing. It focuses on language use and expression and ensures that your writing comes across as natural and suited to the particular discipline, genre or topic your writing falls into. Most importantly, good editing will preserve the author’s individual voice while making changes to the language or style.

What is proofreading?

Proofreading is a process that involves correcting grammatical, spelling, punctuation errors. A professional proofreader is a valuable asset; he or she is methodical and can identify common errors, inconsistent terminology and formatting errors. Proofreading enhances the clarity of your writing because clear writing demands no distracting spelling, grammar or punctuation errors.

Should you choose editing or proofreading?

Editing and proofreading normally come at different stages in the editorial process. Proofreading usually happens right at the end and acts as a ‘final check’ to ensure your manuscript is in perfect form. Editing would occur before proofreading.

Ask yourself: do I like the quality of my writing? If the answer is no then editing would generally be the best alternative. If the answer to the question is yes then proofreading would generally be appropriate instead of editing.

There are some exceptions to these general rules, however. Book authors should generally go for editing rather than proofreading. The traditional publishing market and the self-publishing and e-book markets are so competitive that it’s highly likely your competition has had the benefit of professional editing.

Academic publications can also benefit from editing as it will improve writing quality, the flow of arguments and conformity with style, formatting and footnoting conventions.

Businesses may choose an editing service depending on the level of importance of the document or where the author of the document is not a confident writer or multiple authors have had input to one document.

If you have already received professional editing, are totally confident with your writing or just require a mistake-free document then proofreading would be the appropriate service.

rand31 provides editing, proofreading and writing services to clients in Australia and overseas.