Date
5 August 2009
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express Yourself: The well-informed approach to writing

We are often asked by our clients for advice on matters of grammar and punctuation. Even the strongest ideas can appear weak when presented poorly. Clumsy writing is especially damaging in areas of marketing, advertising and public relations.

One common question concerns ‘compound adjectives’, such as ‘last-minute’ or ‘high-flying’, when two words are brought together and hyphenated to express a single idea. Clients often tell us that they don’t know when two words become such a compound adjective and therefore need a hyphen.

A good rule of thumb is to ask whether both of the words in question can operate coherently in isolation, when attached to the noun being described. For example, a “progressive, pioneering company” can also be described as just a “progressive company” or a “pioneering company”. All of those phrases make sense. However, a “well-informed company” could not also be described as a “well company”. That phrase clearly makes no sense. The words ‘well’ and ‘informed’ therefore have to operate in partnership, which is where the hyphen comes in, effectively acting as a chain linking the two words together into a single idea.

So, the next time you need to write a description of your business, remember that you work for a well-informed, forward-thinking company.

Marc Cornelius

Managing Director & Founder

Marc has over 20 years’ international PR experience gained at leading agencies and in-house. He has specialised in aviation and travel for a decade, devising and overseeing successful international PR programmes and building 80:20 Communications into an acclaimed sector specialist.

Article Author Marc Cornelius