26 Friends is a reference to the letters of the english alphabet. letters (and the words they make) are my main tools of trade.
26 Friends aims to inform, uplift, entertain and occasionally challenge readers.

A waste of space

When I started my cadetship in journalism at the Goulburn Post newspaper in the New South Wales southern tablelands in 1987, I quickly learned not to waste space. Back then the Post was an evening paper with an on site printing press. Most mornings were a mad rush to gather and finish news stories before the midday deadline.

Early in my cadetship, I made the mistake of using the word 'commence' in an article. When I filed that story, a seasoned sub-editor called me over and explained that the paper's style (and indeed the style of most publications) was to avoid the word 'commence'.


Why? 'Start' and 'begin' mean the same thing and are simpler and shorter. When you factor in the double-em in 'commence', you can save about five characters by using one of the alternatives. That gives you space for another word—always welcome when you are writing to a certain length.

Some people argue that 'commence' sounds more formal. Maybe, but in journalism the simpler option is usually the better option.

Sometimes you have to use a derivative of 'commence' to describe a formal speech or dinner. But ever since my days as a cadet, I've tried to avoid 'commence'. It's a waste of space!

Never miss a Due date

Never miss a Due date

Abolishing spiritual slavery