Editorial Differences

 

  • Having so much access to American television here in Australia means we grow up seeing words spelt the way they spell them the United States. Different to us and mostly not acceptable for Australians to use at school, Uni or in business. Even our spell checkers default at the US spelling often. It drives me nuts when my daughter who is seven says, candy instead of lollies, flashlight instead of torch, drugstore instead of chemist, sidewalk rather than footpath and states she is taking a shower instead of having one. One thing that’s easy to remember is that Americans use ‘z’ in many words, where we use ‘s’ and even pronounce ‘Z’ contrarily. Examples of ‘Z’ usage; antagonize versus antagonise, analysed and analysed, appetizer and appetiser and so on. Americans often also shorten words by removing a letter such as, anesthetic and anaesthetic, archeological and archaeological, mold versus mould, favor as opposed to favour and behaviour and behaviour. There are word alterations like center versus centre, color versus colour, tire and tyre, plow and plough and so on and on. So, who have we to blame or thank for all this American drama? The nineteenth century, American lexicographer, Mr Noah Webster, of the dictionary fame. He supposed making the changes away from British language would make America more superior and set them aside. It has certainly set them aside.

 

  • The Oxford comma, Harvard comma or serial comma. There are supporters for and against the use of it. It is also known as the pretentious comma and at the end of the day is optional and up to the author unless following a particular style. We in Australia don’t use it as often as Americans although there are arguments that it clarifies meanings within sentences that may be confusing otherwise. What is it? It is the comma positioned directly before the coordinating conjunction such as: and, or, or nor in a sequence of three terms or more. An example using the Oxford comma is: I have a recipe, a pot, and an oven. Not using the comma would look like: I have a recipe, a pot and an oven.

 

  • ​The exclamation mark has been called the cheap whore of punctuation. My thoughts are, there is a place for it, but professionally it does not belong. The more the merrier also should not apply and as F. Scott Fitzgerald said ‘Cut out all these exclamation points. An exclamation point is like laughing at your own joke.’ It’s a useful way of conveying emotions, irony, annoyance, or friendliness when used six at a time for instance as a text, or on Facebook, email or any other electronic means. In addition, this sets up the foundation for others to respond similarly with 17!!!!! or ???????, such as, ‘I just jumped out of a plane and my parachute opened!!!!!!’ Really?????? Cool!!!!!!’ Ridiculous.

 

  • I love the logogram ampersand (&) which epitomises ‘and’ but when used correctly. Not for use willy nilly or in some haphazard manner. It does not save on your word count students. An ampersand originated from Latin of course, as et which meant and. An example of good use could be in a business title like Anders & Wallace Editing or in academic references such as (Anders & Judd, 2007). It wouldn’t be appropriate to use to write something like, ‘They put the bricks & mortar against the wall.’

 

  • Font use looks like fun. But there’s a place for countless font practice like on a circus banner or in a comic. That’s right people comic sans as whimsical as it is, should be used in a comic – and nowhere else. Particular fonts work better on hardcopy (times new roman, courier or fonts with feet/serif) and others better on screen (Sans-serif, Helvetica, Century gothic, Verdana, Arial or fonts without feet/sans serif). Although pixel resolution has changed you still need to consider small devices. I think use of a particular font or fonts can really affect readability so my advice is not to ‘blend it up’. That’s okay when making a mixed tape but not for a letter or other document. Keep your readers. Don’t use impact for a whole page, or kitch it up with pages of Bradley hand and papyrus… well pffftt. I have no idea what wingdings is for.