The word ‘council’ — when to use a capital letter
If it’s one particular council, capitalise it.
The Council congratulated …
If you are referring to a number of councils, use a small c and no apostrophe.
XYZ is one of many councils around New Zealand …
Use an active rather than a passive voice wherever possible.
The Council decided to … (active)
It has been decided that the Council will … (passive)
If it’s something the Council owns, use an apostrophe.
The Council’s decision …
If you can break it into ‘it is’ then use an apostrophe.
It’s going to be a close election
If you can’t break the word ‘its’ into ‘it is’ and still make sense, it should be all one word.
Renewal of the pump station is required because many of its components have reached the end of their useful life.
1. Use em-dashes to offset a word or phrase, creating a pause in the sentence.
The submissions on upgrading the water treatment plant varied considerably — some were deeply opposed to any further rates increases, while others wanted the work to be completed urgently.
(To create an em-dash use ctrl + alt + the dash at the top right hand side of your keyboard.)
2. En-dashes are used to connect two numbers.
The course is for people aged 15–19 years old and will begin in the 2018–19 year.
(To create an en-dash use ctrl + the dash at the top right hand side of your keyboard.)
3. Hyphens connect two words, and are also used in phone numbers.
Spell out numbers from one to nine, then show larger numbers from 10 onwards as digits.
The exception to this rule is that sentences should not begin with a digit.
Fifty people submitted …
The Council received 50 submissions …
Check for consistency of heading styles, line spaces, spaces between sentences, font sizes and font types.
Lists are a great way to share technical information but inconsistent lists will confuse your readers. Here are three key ways to fix your lists.
Does each point start the same way?
You have a number of options for lists that follow a statement with a colon:
To check if something is a noun, try adding ‘the’ in front of it and see if it sounds right.
Does each point finish the same way?
If a list follows a statement like this, with a colon:
Commas and semi-colons are also grammatically correct. They are a good option for resource management plan conditions, where you need to add an ‘and’ or an ‘or’ to your bullet points.
As an example, an equally correct way to write a list is:
Avoid using a mix of capitals and lower case letters at the start of each point. (This is something to double check as Word will often automatically change your first letter to a capital.)
Is each point a complete sentence?
If your list does not start with a statement and a colon, each point needs to be a complete sentence starting with a capital letter and finishing with a full stop. In particular, this is a good option if your bullet points consist of more than one sentence. Here are some examples.
Oxford Dictionary — https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/
This is a very easy way to check the spelling of a word.
It’s much easier to find out if something is one word, two words but hyphenated or two separate words than it used to be using a paper copy of the dictionary.
Māori Dictionary — https://maoridictionary.co.nz/
This is a great resource for checking the spelling of Māori words, and where macrons are required. (The line above some vowels.)
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