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  1. Well, obviously Environmental, Social and Governance.  But what does it really stand for?  In the broadest sense 'ethics' might be the closest meaning – as in really meaning something – and a company's ethics is becoming more and more important both to the people working in that organisation but also to its clients, customers and consumers.

    Transcription is a notriously underpaid trade despite the skill people need to be able to perform the job with accuracy – yet speed – and faithfulness to the words spoken – yet making what the transcript says intelligible.

    Many transcription companies don't value their transcribers appropriately. Obviously they value them as a resource but the value they set on their work, as in the pay they give them, does not accurately reflect what is involved, and increasinly what would amount to a fair wage.  A company may charge you, the customer, £1.20 plus VAT per audio minute but only give 60p to the person who did the work.

    In an age of digital simplicity, the job of transferring files, assuring quality and getting the job done does not need the person in the middle.  If you want to increase your ESG standing with your colleagues, clients and customers, consider going direct to an independent transcriber and let people know about it, write it into your methdology, incorporate it into your project planning.

    If ESG is to really mean something, then little steps like this can make a huge difference to your organisation or business, but also for those working to help you to get your job done.

    Find out about transcription rates for work done by Sound Words.

  2. What could be simpler than a little line on a page between words?

    Style guides disprove this idea in detailed discussion of dashes and the humble cousin of dashes, the hyphen. Yes, 'dashes'.  There is more than one kind of dash...

    The hyphen, though dismissed as merely the joiner of words (double-barrelled names, compound nouns and adjectives, and so on) is a powerful thing, though relegated to the footnotes of discussions about dashes. Using hyphens correctly isn't just a fussy thing proofreaders might correct you on but actually makes your writing more comprehensible, whether it's for day-to-day consumption in a bog-standard note, or in a piece of high-class literary fiction.

    This is a nice simple explanation of how to use hyphens, and so is this.

    As mentioned before, there are two kinds of dashes, and much is made of them. Their names are en dash and em dash. Back in the days of manual print setting, the en dash was so called because it was the width of the letter N, em being the width of the letter M.  In modern digital fonts, this tradition is maintained and, theoretically, whichever font you type in, the en dash (– ALT+0150) and the em dash (— ALT+0151) should match those same proportions.

    The use of dashes, like other things, has diverged between American English and British English.  Americans still love their em dashes.  In the UK, we've kind of waved them goodbye.

    In American-English texts you'll often see em dashes—whether in novels, newspapers or anywhere really—used like this where we would use en dashes and spaces.

    So in British English the en dash prevails and you know how these are used – you see them everywhere – so you don't need me to tell you how.

    Why I'm mentioning all this is because the blessed, humble, useful, hardworking hyphen often ends up being hauled into use as an en dash, if it hadn't got enough to do already. To make your writing look smart, be alive to the idea that - isn't – and you'll be amazed how lovely everything looks.

    And just a note on hyphens and dashes when it comes to numbers. Ranges of numbers – e.g. pages 19–25 – use an en dash with no spaces.  Want to put in some dashes between numbers – e.g. in a phone number?  Use hyphens. 

    By the way, the minus sign is neither a hyphen nor an en dash.  Use ALT+45 to produce it accurately.  But between you and me, I can't see the difference! - (minus) - (hyphen)