Newsletter #1: Welcome to our first newsletter
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Helping businesses to write legible, credible and compelling documents

Well of course the publication of this, our NEWSLETTER (bi-monthly or quarterly, we've yet to decide), is definitely new. Although its format may change over time, here's what to expect from this first issue:

  • hear about our exciting new service - compiling customised cryptic crosswords;

  • meet some fellow female entrepreneurs who MEAN BUSINESS; 

  • let us introduce you to our favourite 'writing style' expert; 

  • share the pain (and some pointers) with a critique of a recent publication; 

  • and the prize goes to . . . cringeworthy extract of the month; 

  • enjoy Roger's top tips on useful business tools and websites; and finally

  • read about our featured guest business - Impact48
We hope you enjoy it. 

For those of you who are still a little unsure of what we do, we specialise in all aspects of business writing - from assembling the facts, figures and thoughts that will support your ideas, to transforming them into legible, credible and compelling documents. See below for a brief description of the type of thing we do or visit our portfolio page to read about some examples:

  • report writing - planning and structure, research and evidence-gathering, data analysis and data presentation, writing and editing.

  • copy-editing - editing for logical flow and sense; Plain English; grammar, punctuation and spelling.

  • products - corporate and public reports; statistical / research reports; academic / trade articles; technical brochures and leaflets; marketing mail shots; websites; books; style guides and training.

For anyone who may be interested, we also have a blog. It contains a mix of tips and thoughts on writing. I have just posted our latest piece, An Overcompensation of Nouns


We're all familiar with the power of first impressions when meeting people initially. People similarly make assumptions about our intelligence and capabilities based on our writing. If you are a business, it's not just your reputation that could be on the line. Poor writing can also mean wasted time (trying to decipher what is being said), fewer sales (potential customers put off by mistakes) and lost income. It has been estimated, for example, that Plain English has saved the British Government around £500m in the last two decades. 


Whether you are a company looking for novel ways to market your products or services, or a publisher trying to attract more readers and advertisers, crosswords can be an entertaining and lucrative option. According to one crossword website, they are the most popular and widespread game in the world.

Crosswords can increase the circulation of publications, making them an attractive proposition for publishers and advertisers alike. We compile cryptic and straight crosswords tailored to specific themes, people or even magazine issues and adapted to suit any skill level. Personalised crosswords also make great presents for crossword fans. Contact us to see some more of our samples or to discuss how we can start creating yours.

Click here to see the very first crossword puzzle. Originally called a word-cross, the crossword was invented in 1913 by British-born Arthur Wynne, while working for the newspaper New York World.    

L to R: me; Isabel Perez Puig, Carolyn Girvan, Anne Murphy, Caroline Winn, Jackie Waring, Vanessa Brodrick.

Last month, Thursday 13th June to be precise, marked the last in a series of excellent full day training sessions for female entrepreneurs, hosted by the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce and led by the very knowledgeable Jackie Waring (second from the right). Afterwards, a few of us headed to a nearby bar where this picture was taken by fellow business woman and very good friend, Fiona Armour of Panoarmour Photography.

Below is a brief description of the services or products provided by my course colleagues, including those who were unable to join us later on.  Clicking on their names will take you to their business sites. 

Sarah Baldwin - professional make-up artist.
Vanessa Brodrick - fine art consultant.
Laura Denham - of Temptress Press, erotic and romance publishers.
Carolyn Girvan - owner of Travelling Teapot, an afternoon tea service with a difference.
Kerena Hendry - director at Clarity Marketing.

Adela Lees - Spanish-English translation.
Gillian McKinnon - freelance media, communications and development consultant.
Anne Murphy - director at Innovi Business Growth, for successful commercialisation and internationalisation.
Isabel Perez Puig - Spanish language and dance teacher.
Jackie Waring - managing director of Blue Horizons - leadership, strategy, culture and change management.
Caroline Winn - master neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) coach and Arbonne products representative. 

If you you are interested in learning more about Women Mean Business, then please contact Jackie Waring at:  If you are a business based in Edinburgh and looking for advice or support, then visit the Chamber of Commerce website at: 


F.L. Lucas (1894-1967) was a distinguished literary scholar. His book, Style, started out as a series of lectures he gave at Cambridge inspired, it is believed, by his time at Bletchley Park. There, as an intelligence analyst and report-writer, the importance of writing was paramount:

". . . even the most utilitarian will find there are few careers where it does not sometimes become important to be able to put a case with persuasiveness, or facts with precision. For instance, I have wartime memories of congested signals-communications, where messages had to be clear if they were not to be disastrous, yet brief if they were to get sent at all."

A dictum for us all to write by, perhaps?

His own style is wonderfully witty, learned and entertaining. I found myself laughing and shaking my head in admiration throughout. Over the coming months I want to share some of his humour and erudition, and that of others, through this newsletter. 

On this page we cast a constructive eye over public documents whose well-intentioned use of language serves unfortunately to obscure rather than enlighten. 

"The main purpose of XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX is to work in partnership with others in the public, private and third sectors, on prevention, protection and response, to improve the safety and wellbeing of people throughout Scotland."

1. What organisation do you think the piece above is describing? It is actually proposed wording for the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS). I think it could just as easily be describing the police or ambulance service, the NHS or one of its departments, the armed services, coastguard services, private security industry or lollipop men and women, as long as their geographical remit is Scotland.

2. How well do you think its purpose describes what the organisation does? Not very well, I would suggest. Working in partnership is not a purpose or function but a way of working. Are prevention, protection and response equally defining elements of its services? What or whom does it prevent, what or whom does it protect (or from what or whom), and to what or whom does it respond? Nor am I clear what the SFRS can do to improve my wellbeing (as opposed to my safety)?

3. Enlighten or obscure? Well, by my two tests above, the answer has to be obscure. If I had to describe the purpose of the SFRS to someone who had never heard of it I'm pretty sure I wouldn't use the description above; nor, if I did, would I expect them to be a great deal wiser! 

When a large organisation such as the Government tries to communicate with the man and woman in the street the scope for misunderstanding is enormous. Too often clarity and simplicity are overwhelmed by pompous words, long sentences and endless paragraphs. Margaret Thatcher                                                


This month's extract is a great example of management cliché being wielded at unnecessary length to say little of actual substance. 

"It is clear that real improvements will best be achieved through partnership-working across organisational and sectoral boundaries, sharing and integrating services, and pooling resources to co-produce innovative, place-based solutions." * 

It is clear - I suspect not, if only on the basis of what follows.
that real improvements - as opposed to what, unreal ones?
will best be achieved through partnership-working - is there nothing partnership-working can't do?
across organisational and sectoral boundaries - in case you don't know what partnership means.
sharing and integrating services - more definition, thank you.
and pooling resources - yet more definition or are we talking redundancies?
to co-produce - we're all in this together, equally, honest.
innovative - it's new so it must be good.
place-based - words fail me . . .
solutions - what on earth did we all do before we discovered solutions?

*Both this extract and the SFRS one above were taken from the Scottish Government publication, Fire and Rescue Framework for Scotland 2013: Consultation Report.


My very good friend Roger works in the Communications team at Seafish. Several times a week he sends me links to useful, interesting or just funny sites that he has discovered. We thought it would be good to share some of these with you, not to plug the sites or products - most of which we haven't used ourselves - but purely for interest. 

  • If you like the image that heads up our What Are They On About? section, then here's where to go to create your own. It's straightforward and free to use.
Leaving work behind
  • Tips on growing your Twitter following. 

Sparkol's Videoscribe      
  • A tool for developing animated videos. 
  • Create your own websites.
 Infographic tools                
  • A blog reviewing its author's top ten visual communication tools. 

Days of the year               
  • Potentially useful if you're looking for a hook for a marketing campaign tied to specific days.
Funny advert                       
  • An amusing plug for the Call of Duty Black Ops 2 game. 


I met Barry O'Kane recently at a networking event hosted by Jo Young of Edinburgh University's Business School's e-club.

As well as founding his own company (
EzoneSoftware), Barry supports Impact48 an organisation that aims to help charities in a direct and tangible way. 

Impact48 works by bringing together a charity (with an opportunity or problem but lacking resources), a sponsor (with the resource and desire to make an impact) and a team of volunteers with the skills and energy to create something with impact in 48 hours. 

External help is clearly crucial to the success of the organisation, be that in the form of technical support, financial assistance or personal involvement during the 48-hour period. If you are interested in finding out more about events or sponsorship opportunities, or would like to subscribe to their emailing list, please visit their website at:

Our mailing address is:
Reporting for Business
58 Liberton Brae
Edinburgh, SCOTLAND EH16 6LB
United Kingdom

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