Category Archives: Communication

Some punctuation we can do without

Posted on by

We occasionally need to bring our organizational discussion down a notch in intensity, and talk about some rather mundane principles of communication.

Today? Punctuation.

Continue reading

Formatting Note – Let’s kill Mr. and Ms.

Posted on by

A lot of progress has been made in shifting professional language toward gender neutrality. We refer to firefighters rather than firemen, press for the acceptance of the singular they1 instead of the clumsy he/she, and employ metonymy to use chair in place of chairman.

One dirty little corner of our communication, however, clings to the often irrelevant nomenclature of gender. When discussing persons without professional titles like Reverend, Doctor, and Senator, we often substitute Mr. and Ms. which signify nothing but the presence of adult genitalia of one of the two standard-issue types.

It’s time to put an end to this, and NewGovOffice suggests two alternative rules of increasing professional rigor:

SOFT RULE: When referencing a person with no professional title, never use Mr. or Ms. with their full name. On first reference simply use the full name and, afterward, either their first name (if informal) or their last name preceded by Mr. or Ms. (if formal). For example:

  • In an address block write “Roberta Xavier” and in salutation “Dear Ms. Xavier,” or “Dear Roberta,” but never “Ms. Roberta Xavier” under any circumstance.
  • In an intro paragraph write “Samir Nouri heads our acquisitions team” and later “Mr. Nouri graduated from Virginia Tech…” or “Samir graduated from Virginia Tech…” but never “Mr. Samir Nouri” under any circumstance.

HARD RULE: When referencing a person with no professional title, simply never use Mr. or Ms. under any circumstance. Use their full name upon first reference and either their first or last name (depending on formality of occasion) on subsequent references. For example:

  • “The new CEO is David Laurens … David comes to our company from the public sector…”
  • “Brenda Hume founded the Hume Trust in 2005 … Hume has since created several charitable organizations in other countries…”


1 Contrary to the gripes of many half-informed grammar traditionalists, using they as a singular, gender-neutral pronoun dates back at least to Elizabethan times. It’s good English.

Category: Communication

Let’s Take the Randum out of Memorandum

Posted on by

New Gov Office understands that the way we communicate affects the way we think, and the way we think defines how human organizations work. For example, “idea persons” are better suited for leadership positions than “people persons,” despite the pop culture mythology surrounding people skills and the natural inclination for the socially gifted to rise in the pecking order.

Key to communication are communication standards, agreed-upon rules that foster precision and efficiency. This is why we discuss not only management theory, but organizational communications.

One of the key items of our communications standards is the avoidance of non-English plurals, like fora for forums. These archaism sound clumsy, needlessly complicate the language, and achieve very little outside a vague pretense of education.

The common term memorandum provides a unique opportunity to avoid clumsy, non-English plurals and save space. The short-form memo is already commonplace, and should be substituted for memorandum throughout official communication, with the plural being memos.

– David Case, standards editor

Category: Communication