This blog shares some of our thoughts about plain language, and the latest discussions about plain English and clear design in New Zealand, and around the world.

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13 November 2013

Setting trends; setting type

Remember when the word ‘trendy’ was, well, trendy? Yet now it is the kiss of death for anything purporting to be modern, innovative, or contemporary — used by people trying desperately to sound ‘cutting edge’ (is this the replacement for ‘trendy’?).

We are all constantly bombarded with change, software updates, new ‘rules’, and fashionable terms. We are urged to keep moving with the times, or risk the infamy caused by using an outdated word to mean ‘up to date’.

This brings me, rather circuitously, to the knotty issue of the number of spaces that should be used after a full stop in normal text. When editors receive a document with double spaces after full stops (or worse!), we tend to sigh and resignedly bring up the Search and Replace function. (But we never use the Search and Replace All option: we’ve all clicked this once in a burst of optimism, with disastrous results.)

The Heraclitean River blog addresses this question comprehensively in its essay here — but leaves editors mumbling into their (metaphorical) beards. In changing times we all tend to accept reasoning when it is backed up by enough people who agree with us. We’re not joining the Flat Earth Society, but it may be time for us to be a little more flexible about the thorny spacing issue.

By Corinna Lines

12 November 2013

From our bookshelf: FISH! Tales

At every staff meeting the chair reviews a book from our bookshelf, to remind us of the wealth of knowledge we have at our fingertips.

Jack Ponting, our client services co-ordinator, picked FISH! Tales. Here's what he said:

'The series of FISH! books are based around a special fish market in Seattle. They contain real-life stories to help you transform your workplace and your life.

'They promote four principles for engaging:
  • play
  • make their day
  • be there
  • choose your attitude

'Living this philosophy results in a workplace where the quality of life is satisfying and meaningful, and the experience for customers, internal and external, is compelling.

'PLAY — Work made fun gets done, especially when we choose to do serious tasks in a light-hearted, spontaneous way. Play is not just an activity; it’s a state of mind that brings new energy to the tasks at hand and sparks creative solutions.

'MAKE THEIR DAY — When you ‘make someone’s day’ (or moment) through a small kindness or unforgettable engagement, you can turn even routine encounters into special memories.

'BE THERE — The glue in our humanity is in being fully present for one another. Being there is also a great way to practise wholeheartedness and fight burnout, for it is those half-hearted tasks you perform while juggling other things that wear you out.

'CHOOSE YOUR ATTITUDE — When you look for the worst, you will find it everywhere. When you learn you have the power to choose your response to what life brings, you can look for the best and find opportunities you never imagined possible. If you find yourself with an attitude that is not what you want it to be, you can choose a new one.

'Applied Principles touched many who applied them in their workplaces. This book is a collection of some of these stories and experiences.

'On page 137 the challenge is offered to ‘Let’s go fishing!’ This offers 12 weeks of discovering the richer and more rewarding life that is just a few choices away.

'William Hope, from Arrow Electronics UK Limited said, ‘The FISH! Philosophy has spread across our organisation like an electric shock, leaving people tingling with the energy it leaves behind.’

Thanks, Jack, for advice that enhances happiness at work, and outside it.

FISH! Tales is by Stephen C Lundin, John Christensen, and Harry Paul.

Take a look on Amazon