Down with capitalism

I am fed up with misplaced capitals – get rid of them where possible.

It’s lower case for seasons, points of the compass, but upper for proper nouns, full titles of organisations, names of companies and organisations, political parties, trade names, books, films, publications.

It’s small ‘i’ for internet, worldwide web, the government, descriptive job titles as in communications director, but capitals when a formal title as is President of XYZ organisation, thereafter president. Go small whenever you can.

The trend in modern English usage is to avoid unnecessary initial capitals. Very few words are true proper nouns and really need an initial capital. Some words which used to start with a capital (the seasons are a good example) no longer do.

Avoid too many capital letters in a sequence, as they are difficult to read.

Capitals can have a punctuating effect that hinder the smooth flow of the eye over the words. Compare the distracting:

Factors that May Affect the Success of the Strategy


Factors that may affect the success of the strategy

Derbysire County Council needs initial capitals, but the council, county council, local councillors don’t.

• Council Tax doesn’t need initial caps, council tax is fine.

Job titles should be lower case: chief executive, head of communications etc. This rule applies in body text (‘Robert Smith, head of communications, spoke at the meeting…’) where the title is descriptive of the work or position of the individual. However, in formal situations (addressing envelopes, signing off correspondence etc), job titles should be capitalised where lower case would look wrong, thus:

Chief Executive, Derbyshire Building Society

Initial capitals can be used for the names of specific departments, committees, teams etc, when they are referred to in full. For example: Performance Management Board, but subsequent references to the department or the committee should be lower case.

Avoid blocks of capitals LIKE THIS WHICH ARE HARD TO READ.


Writing adverts

Adverts are used for number of purposes –
• Gain acceptance of product to help secure distribution
• Give a product profile
• Introduce a new idea
• Stimulate demand for a brand/counter competitors brands
• Boost confidence of sales staff
• Announce offers, promotions
• Raise public awareness of topic
• Inform candidates of job vacancies

Writing adverts
Adverts can be oral and visual as well as written. Written adverts can be longer and can be perused slowly and more than once unlike radio or TV advert. Advertiser has power to use more content in written adv. Written ads can be placed in a variety of media including- newspapers and magazines, posters sites and bus stops, notice board in public paces (eg library, shops), on programmes at sporting events, on book wrappers, at point of sale, direct mail, envelopes etc.
Media can be classified according to editorial contents, circulation size, area and type (eg free or paid for), type of reader (socio-economic group, age etc), frequency of publications (daily), production (eg colour) and cost of advertising space

Selecting the right medium – the widest coverage of your target audience, with greatest frequency, with greatest credibility at the lowest cosy

The message – Purpose is to attract attention, hold the attention, persuade the reader to act or make a decision.

The selling theme –
• Start with a list of the product’s features
• Highlight those which are new/different from competitors
• Identify those suitable to your target audience
• Turn the features into benefits
• Select the best selling points – price, quality convenience?

Unique selling point – unique feature/benefit which product has over its competitors

The copy – draft a few statements to outline selected benefits, dilute those that don’t fit the main theme, find some powerful words

Commandments for advertising copy
• Be simple – use short easy sentences
• Be interesting – use vivid words, attract attention, surprise, arouse curiosity
• Be brief – be direct, small areas of text, leave out padding
• Be positive – motivate, don’t use negatives
• Be factual and honest
• Be original – use original angles
• Be empathetic
• Be instructive – state clearly how, when and where to order

The mnemonic is a good way to remember about advertising copy
Interesting, Emphatic, Positive, Original, Simple, Honest, Factual, Instructive, Brief,

Advertising style
1. Emphasis – repetition, graphic design, sentence structure
2. Pace and fluency – varying pace, para length
3. Informality – use colloquial language
4. Appeal to audience motivations – ie free, new, value, quality
5. Credibility and congeniality – need to create trust and persuasion
6. Presentation – use space, good typestyle, colour, shape and texture, illustration
7. Headlines and slogans – use puns, questions, controversial statements, humour etc



A hyphen denotes two or more words to be read as one but try to cut and join if you can.  Check dictionaries.

 The hyphen ( ) is used to join words and to separate syllables of a single word. It is often confused with dashes ( , , ), which are longer and have different uses.

Hyphens are mostly used to break single words into parts or to join ordinarily separate words into single words. Spaces should not be placed between a hyphen and either of the words it connects except when using a suspended or “hanging” hyphen (e.g. nineteenth- and twentieth-century writers).

A definitive collection of hyphenation rules does not exist but styles prescribe different usage guidelines. The rules of style that apply to dashes and hyphens have evolved to support ease of reading in complex constructions.

The use of the hyphen has been steadily declining. Compounds that might once have been hyphenated are increasingly left with spaces or are combined into one word. The advent of the internet and the increasing prevalence of computer technology have given rise to a subset of common nouns that may in the past have been hyphenated (eg toolbar). yphenation is also routinely used to avoid unsightly spacing in justified texts (for example, in newspaper columns).

Certain prefixes (co-, pre-, mid-, de-, non-, anti-, etc.) may or may not be hyphenated. Many long-established words, such as preamble and degrade, do not require a hyphen since the prefix is viewed as fully fused. In other cases, usage varies depending on individual or regional preference eg in English we say pre-schoo. A hyphen is mandatory when a prefix is applied to a proper (capitalized) adjective (un-American, de-Stalinisation). Hyphens may be employed where readers would otherwise be tempted into a mispronunciation (eg co-worker is so punctuated partly to prevent the reader’s eye being caught automatically by the word cow).

When a compound modifier other than an adverb-adjective appears before a term, the compound modifier is often hyphenated to prevent misunderstanding, such as in American-football player or real-world example. Without the hyphen, there is potential confusion about whether American applies to football or player, or whether the author might perhaps be referring to a “world example” that is “real”. Compound modifiers can extend to three or more words, as in ice-cream-flavored candy, and can be adverbial as well as adjectival (spine-tinglingly frightening).

Hyphens should normally not be used in adverb–adjective modifiers such as wholly owned subsidiary and quickly moving vehicle, because the adverbs clearly modify the adjectives; “quickly” cannot modify “vehicle”. Hyphens are used to connect numbers and words in forming adjectival phrases (particularly with weights and measures), whether using numerals or words for the numbers, as in 28-year-old woman and twenty-eight-year-old woman or 320-foot wingspan. The same usually holds for abbreviated time units. Hyphens are also used in spelled-out fractions as adjectives (but not as nouns), such as two-thirds majority and one-eighth portion.

An en-dash ( – ) sometimes replaces the hyphen in hyphenated compounds if either of its constituent parts is already hyphenated or contains a space (e.g. high-priority–high-pressure tasks (tasks which are both high-priority and high-pressure). En dashes are more proper than hyphens in ranges (pp. 312–14), relationships (blood–brain barrier) and to convey the sense of “to”, as in Nottingham-Lincoln race.

Adjectives and intensifiers

We use adjectives to describe nouns. Most adjectives can be used in front of a noun…:

They have a beautiful house.
We saw a very exciting film last night.

 or after a link verb like be, look or feel:

Their house is beautiful.
That film looks interesting.

Right or wrong?

 Last night I saw a  programme very funny on TV

  1. They have two wonderful children
  2. I didn’t know his mother French was
  3. This food smells revolting!
  4. We’ve just brought a brand new car
  5. I’m going to build a swimming pool very big

Comparative and superlative adjectives

 We use comparative adjectives to describe people and things:

 This car is certainly better but it’s much more expensive.

I’m feeling happier now.

We need a bigger garden

 We use than when we want to compare one thing with another:

 She is two years older than me.

New York is much bigger than Boston.

He is a better player than Ronaldo.

France is a bigger country than Britain.

When we want to describe how something or someone changes we can use two comparatives with and:

The balloon got bigger and bigger.

Everything is getting more and more expensive.

Grandfather is looking older and older.

We often use the with comparative adjectives to show that one thing depends on another:

When you drive faster it is more dangerous

> The faster you drive, the more dangerous it is.

When they climbed higher it got colder

> The higher they climbed, the colder it got.

Superlative adjectives:

We use the with a superlative:

It was the happiest day of my life.

Everest is the highest mountain in the world.

That’s the best film I have seen this year.

I have three sisters, Jan is the oldest and Angela is the youngest .


big    cheap    cold    fat    good    loud    old   small    young  thin  icy


  1. As more people arrived the crowd got —————————
  2. As you get older, policemen seem……………………………….
  3. As we eat more we get ———————————————–
  4. In winter when the temperature plummets we get ———–
  5. If you turn up the volume, the music get louder

Now form one sentence using each of the comparatives you did not use in the list above.



We use words like very, really and extremely to make adjectives stronger:

It’s a very interesting story
Everyone was very excited.
It’s a really interesting story.
Everyone was extremely excited

We call these words intensifiers. Other intensifiers are:







We also use enough to say more about an adjective, but enough comes after its adjective:

If you are seventeen you are old enough to drive a car.
I can’t wear those shoes. They’re not big enough.

Intensifiers with strong adjectives:

Strong adjectives are words like:

enormous, huge = very big
tiny = very small
brilliant = very clever
awful; terrible; disgusting; dreadful = very bad
certain = very sure
excellent; perfect; ideal; wonderful; splendid = very good
delicious = very tasty

We do not normally use very with these adjectives. We do not say something is “very enormous” or someone is “very brilliant“. 

With strong adjectives, we normally use intensifiers like:

absolutely completely totally utterly
really exceptionally particularly quite

The film was absolutely awful.
He was an exceptionally brilliant child.
The food smelled really disgusting.







Linking words

Instructions often use linking words to tell us what to do and the order in which to do it.

These words also tell us about how each step in the instructions links to the other steps. Here’s a list of common linking words:

first | finally | next | after | before | then | second

Read this set of instructions for stripping wallpaper and put the right linking word in each space. Use each word once.

                                       , using a sponge, soak part of the wall with warm water. Add some

washing-up liquid to the water first.

                                       you start, make some scratches on the wallpaper with a sharp knife. This

will help the water soak into the paper.)

                                      , wait for at least five minutes so that the water has time to soak in.

                                      , use a wallpaper scraper to lift the wallpaper off the wall. It is easiest if you

start at the edge of a sheet and scrape away from you.

If the wallpaper won’t come off you will need to soak it again until it is wet through.

                                       ,                                       removing all the wallpaper, let the wall dry out.

                                      , use a sander to rub off any last pieces of paper and to make the wall smooth, ready for decorating.


Job adverts – how to write them

Use one headline and make the job relevant and clear.  It could simply be the job title itself which is what people are looking for.  If the job title doesn’t describe the job, then a use a bold strapline to catch attention. If the job title is hard to understand, then give the job a more understandable title.  

If the organisation is well known and has a good brand or reputation, use the brand or name prominently.

Make the advert easy to read. Use simple language that your readers understand and avoid complicated words.  Use space round text to attract attention.

Use short sentences of 15 words or less.

Use bullet points and short paragraphs.

Use simple type-styles such as Arial or Times, or your house-style equivalents or variations. Serif fonts (like Times) are more traditional and more readable. Sans serif (like Arial) are more modern-looking, but are less easy to read especially for a lot of text.

Use 12-18 point-size for headings and avoid capitals in headings as they are hard to read. CAPITALS HAVE NO WORD SHAPES. Use ten, eleven or twelve point-size for the main text;  Avoid italics, shadows, weird colours as none of these improve readability. Use black text on a white background for maximum readability.

Get the reader involved by referring to the reader as ‘you’ as this helps people to visualise themselves in the role.

Try to say something new or different to create excitement.

Emphasise what makes your job and organization special.

You must include a call to action ie send a CV, call this number, get an application form etc.

The best position for adverts on a job page is top right corner as your eye is naturally drawn right on turning over the page.

Resist the temptation to buy a half-page or a full page – a quarter of a page is adequate in most publications. Big adverts do not necessarily produce a big response and you can run a smaller advert more often to get a bigger exposure ie use your resources more efficiently.  

How to design and write job adverts

The best techniques are the same as for all other advertising. The job is your product and the readers are your customers so you need to attract attention, create interest and desire and then get people to apply for the job. The advert needs to be succinct, appealing and clear in order to get the right people to apply. Design should be clear so you portray a professional image. Branding should be there but not dominate.

Things to avoid:

  •  Over-designed graphics and extravagant layout
  • Difficult to read eg font (type-style) too small or too large
  • capital-letters (upper-case)
  • Lots of words in italics – which are more difficult to read quickly
  • Use of silly colours, tints against a coloured, patterned or picture background or writing over images
  • Clever or obscure headlines
  • Too much technical details about the job or the company
  • Too many words – they are a real turn-off – keep it simple
  • Boring descriptions of roles and ideal candidates
  • Too much emphasis on the job and not enough on the person
  • Weird advert shapes eg for example wide and flat or tall and thin