Hints & Tips
Around and around in circles
'The theory is based around.' 'Let’s focus our efforts around.' 'The report centres around.' These three misuses of around are real bug bears and they’re becoming so common place. I’ve seen them in respected broadsheets and magazines. I’ve even heard them, shock horror, on the BBC.
It only takes a second’s thought to get them right. A base is a thing on which something stands or rests: a cup on a saucer for instance. You wouldn’t but your cup around the saucer – that would just be silly. So you base something on, not around.
Focus is even easier. Just imagine trying to focus your eyes around an object. You’d go dizzy. Then you’d fall over. It’s much easier (and safer) to focus on something.
Centre is the easiest of all to get right. Centre is the place where something is concentrated. It's the heart of something: a focus. Therefore it's always centre on.
Mind your Zs and Ss
This is not an anti-American rant or a plea for patriotism. It’s a just another bug-bear: American spelling in British writing. I just can’t bear Zs instead of Ss or color when it should be colour.
I blame Microsoft for setting Word’s default to American spelling, but they do give us the option to change it.
So if you haven’t done already, please do this one little thing for me and help to keep my blood pressure steady.
*Go to Programs in your Start menu and select Microsoft Office. Then go to Microsoft Office Tools.
On the Enabled Languages tab, select the languages to use for editing documents from the Available Languages list, and then click Add.
Phew. That’s better.
*This might vary depending on which version of Windows you use.
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