Frequently asked questions

Before contacting us, please browse our FAQ
Will indis help me to punctuate my writing?

Yes indis will help you to punctuate your writing.

However, rather than swamp you with lots of information about dozens of punctuation marks, indis concentrates on the ones you are most likely to use in business and technical communication, for example: apostrophes, colons, commas, dashes, exclamation marks, full-stops, hyphens and semicolons. Indis describes exactly when to use each punctuation mark and gives examples of how they are used in modern Australian English.

As well as covering the common punctuation marks indis has brief descriptions of another 20 punctuation marks that you might see, use or need to know the names of.

My manager and my peer reviewers always complain about my long sentences. How can I shorten my sentences?

This is a common question. Indis covers various aspects of writing short clear sentences with advice and examples on how to:

  • Correctly combine clauses, phrases and punctuation
  • Identify and delete unnecessary words
  • Replace common phrases with a single word
Does indis offer any advice on making sure the subjects of my sentences agree with my verbs?

Yes, indis outlines the rules for subject−verb agreement, and clear examples show how subject-verb agreement works.

English isn’t my first language. Will indis help me improve my English at work?

The authors of indis are familiar with the type of problems experienced by people such as yourself. Although indis does not aim to teach people basic English it will help improve your business or technical writing skills in four ways.

Firstly, it will help you understand the difference between the English you learnt in class and the English your employer expects. In class you wrote to get top marks from your only audience, your teacher. At work you are writing for people who need to know something because they need to do something. Indis will help you focus on what these people want.

Secondly, for those aspects of English that you did learn in class, indis offers you revision at your fingertips, for example:

  • Correctly matching the subject and the verb in your sentences
  • Using the, a and an correctly
  • Keeping sentence length short
  • Choosing the right word such as principle or principal and practice or practise

Thirdly, there is a lot of advice you need but have never been taught:

  • The importance of writing consistently
  • How and when to use abbreviations, acronyms and contractions
  • Why you shouldn’t give people negative instructions
  • How to write about money, numbers, dates, units of measurement and time
  • Choosing the right format and document type

Finally, indis includes advice on using visuals such as diagrams instead of text. Let’s face it–you might be able to use some visual elements instead of writing a page of text.

Why do I need another style guide? We already have a branding style guide and in our profession we have our own ways of writing.

Many professionals and technicians who write at work will be in the same boat as you are. However indis complements the specialist style guides you already use at work.

Branding and professional and technical style guides do not comprehensively offer general writing and Australian usage advice.

Indis goes beyond the advice you generally have in your style guide and gives, for example: guidance on how to write sentences and compile them into effective paragraphs. It has lots of advice on how to write consistently and concisely. It has lists of commonly misused words and spelling errors. It has examples of how to use commonly used punctuation marks. And it offers tips on planning and testing your documents as well as using visual elements such as photos. These topics and most of the others in indis are not generally covered in branding or professional style guides.

The guidance in indis applies as much to professional and technical staff as it does to people working elsewhere in your organisation such as in a shop, in transport, in security or in human resources. Their writing skills may be limited but they are still expected to write short email instructions and reports for staff as well as for people outside your organisation. It is just as important that their writing is as concise, consistent and understandable as yours otherwise errors and misunderstandings could occur.

Indis is for anyone in an organisation who needs to convey clear and consistent messages even though their main task is not writing.

My high school teacher said never to put a comma before ‘and’–is this true?

Yes and no. Indis gives examples of when to use a comma before and–and when not to.

With three clicks, Indis provides me with a plain English style guide that answers all my questions.

Lisa

Business Writer