On choosing to use ‘while’ or ‘whilst’, and why this question could be more important than you think.

 

The answer to the question of whether to use ‘while’ or ‘whilst’ is, in short, to use whichever you prefer and whichever you think will be most natural for the context and audience you are writing for. Basically, ‘while’ and ‘whilst’ are interchangeable in meaning, but usage varies according to preferences in different varieties of English. Some say ‘whilst’ is preferred in some varieties of English, while others say it sounds too old-fashioned. So in one sense, it’s up to you. But there is a little more to it than that.

 

When it comes to word choices like these, I recommend an approach that worries less about what is perceived to be ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ (because that is always going to vary) and focuses instead on pragmatic and logical reasoning. For me, you see, the question is not so much about whether to use ‘while’ or ‘whilst’ (although I choose to use ‘while’, which I explain further below), but whether to use ‘while’ or ‘although’. Let me explain.

 

 

 

A grammatical error is one of the quickest ways to lose credibility and potential customers.

 

This couldn't have been more clearly demonstrated in the comments under an advertisement I recently saw on Facebook. Of course, the use of "your" when "you're" was clearly required stuck out like a sore thumb to me, but I'm used to seeing errors everywhere I go (and, for the benefit of my own sanity, having to let them go!).

 

But the reaction of other Facebook users surprised even me!

 

 

Thoughts from our founder and head editor Louise on what makes a great editor:

 

"A great editor is meticulous and highly knowledgeable of the rules of language, but equally able to exercise judgement in the application of such rules.

 

A 'very good' editor should, without a doubt, know the difference between 'principal' and 'principle', passive and active voice, and when to use 'effect' or 'affect' and 'practice' or 'practise'. They should know when to use 'it's' and when to use 'its'. They probably even know the difference between a hyphen, an en-dash and an em-dash, and rejoice when they see these being used correctly.

 

 

Tone is the attitude communicated by our words in both speaking and in writing. Just like in speaking, the tone we use in writing has a direct effect on the success of our communication.

 

When someone reads your words, they cannot see your face or hear your real tone, so they will interpret your tone based on your words only. Therefore, you need to make sure that the tone of your writing is correct for the message you want to send. You need to think about whether the tone you have used is likely to help you achieve what you want to achieve in the piece of writing. 

 

I recommend that as a business writer, you should try to use a confident, courteous, and sincere tone. Here are three ways you can do this:

 

 

To make your written documents concise, precise and pleasing to your clients, I recommend you:

  • rid your document of ambiguous, vague or otherwise confusing sentences or punctuation.
  • reduce wordiness.
  • ensure that your document is free of grammar or spelling errors.
  • improve your document's overall style, ensuring clear, concise, precise, effective language, suited to the intended audience.

 

 

The misuse of i.e. and e.g. is one of the top errors I come across in my technical editing. I have found that many people are not aware that i.e. and e.g. have different meanings.

 

 

People sometimes ask me when they should use “who” and when they should use “whom”.

 

 

Here are six tips for powerful writing, with examples.

 

"Technical writing and editing — Australian engineer and technical writing colleague
Working with Louise, I was impressed by the depth of her knowledge of the rules and conventions..."
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