Our team

emwords: Who are we?

emwords is this website. The business is emma – short for Elizabeth Manning Murphy & Associates.

emma is a notional group of editors, writers, trainers, mentors and business consultants who are based in Canberra, Australia, but work around the world in various capacities. We come together as required for specific emma projects. The team is headed by the Principal, Elizabeth Manning Murphy.


Here is a bit about her:

Elizabeth Manning Murphy, JP, BA Hons (ANU-Linguistics), FCES, FSBT(UK,) FIML, DE (IPEd Distinguished Editor)

My academic background is in linguistics and psychology with training as a teacher in commercial education as well. The appointment of Distinguished Editor (DE) was made by the Institute of Professional Editors (IPEd), Australia in 2008. I am a professional member of Canberra Society of Editors and IPEd. I am an Honorary Life Member of both Canberra Society of Editors and IPEd, a committee member and former President of Canberra Society of Editors, and a Fellow and former Councillor of the Commercial Education Society of Australia. I was a co-Chair, with Ted Briggs AE, of the IPEd Mentoring Program for editors standing committee, having inaugurated the program with Ted in 2012. I was also, in 2020, awarded the inaugural Janet Mackenzie Medal (‘the Mackenzie’) for my overall contribution to the profession of editing over many years – I am very honoured by that award from IPEd, and look forward to continuing to promote high standards in editing and writing, as I know my friend, colleague and inspiration, the late Janet Mackenzie, did throughout her career. I have also recently been upgraded to Fellow of the Institute of Managers and Leaders (IML), successor to the Australian Institute of Management.

‘I am an active professional member of editing, writing and management associations in Australia and internationally. I have written many books about English grammar, effective writing and business. Two of my recent books – Effective writing(2 edn) and a complete revision of Working words – are highlighted on the Books page – clickhere.

‘My recent work has included an editorial advisory role with the new digital Australian Government Style Manual; editing academic theses and journal articles, often for non-native speakers of English; writing, editing and proofreading technical journals and newsletters; mentoring and tutoring editors and others around Australia and overseas (including helping prospective teachers of English as a second language (ESL) to study for their qualifications); training in basic English grammar (see Grammar in a nutshell) for editors, writers, indexers and students of English internationally; and writing books and booklets on aspects of the editing profession.  Go to Books to see descriptions of my recent books, including a new review of Working words (revised edition). Working words and Effective writing can be purchased as paperbacks or as ebooks by clicking on the book images on that page. I have extensive experience in the writing of workplace manuals and style guides for writers, including an early guide to business letter writing, The better letter, for Qantas staff worldwide, the Defence writing manual, and shorter guides for several Australian government agencies. I was a joint program coordinator of the IPEd National Mentoring Program around Australia and New Zealand for ten years, and I am currently offering a study plan for anyone thinking of sitting for any exam including the IPEd Accreditation Exam. Read more here.’

Click here to contact Elizabeth.


A major strength of emma is our ability to call on colleagues to be team members to help with specific projects. Associates are highly qualified and experienced in their fields and are able to add considerable value to the projects on which they work. One such Associate, Dr Jon Rosalky, is highlighted here. Jon has a background in science and languages, and his expertise includes editing, particularly of academic and workplace material, training in aspects of effective writing, particularly English grammar, and IT. He has been a co-presenter of the emma workshop Grammar in a nutshell in various formats, and has participated in a special program designed to prepare candidates for qualifications to teach English as a second language.

Here is his story:

Jon Rosalky, PhD GradDipEcon

‘I have been involved with writing scientific and technical papers and documentation for over 40 years. My writing has included scientific theses, research papers and technical documents. In addition I have very considerable experience in general administrative writing in the form of briefing papers, tenders and publicity material. I have been a devotee of plain English since the late 1960s, when I was introduced to Sir Ernest Gowers’ seminal work on the topic.

‘I became well known at several workplaces for my logical, clear writing and was frequently sought by work colleagues for help in writing a variety of documents, particularly in the area of information technology. I have worked with Elizabeth Murphy on editing of various doctoral theses.

‘I have expert knowledge of English grammar and spelling as well as considerable knowledge of a number of other languages. I am well versed in the preparation of logical text that is comprehensive, unambiguous and easy to read, and I am experienced in providing tuition in effective writing to academic and other clients.

‘I have considerable experience in providing one-on-one tuition both to non-native English speakers who want to improve their accent and their knowledge of English grammar and to native speakers seeking to become proficient in grammar. Drawing on my knowledge of a number of foreign languages, I am able to provide students with comparisons of how different languages approach certain issues of grammar in different ways, which helps students gain a deeper understanding of English grammar.’

Click here to contact Jon.


Another colleague in the team of Associates is Dr Justine McNamara. We welcome her for her organisational skills that can help others with study planning. Together we have developed a plan that we hope will help any editors thinking of taking the IPEd Accreditation Exam or anyone just applying the same disciplines to studying for anything at all. 

Here is an introduction to Justine:

Justine McNamara, PhD, Graduate Certificate in Professional Writing (Editing),AE (IPEd Accredited Editor)

Justine is a freelance editor specialising in academic editing. She has her own business, Next Version Editing, and is a professional member of the Canberra Society of Editors and the Institute of Professional Editors.

She has published numerous articles in academic journals and a wide range of reports and papers for a variety of audiences. She brings this experience to her editing work, along with a background in social work. Her academic editing has covered many disciplines, including economics, business, social policy, international relations and education. Her experience as an academic writer helps her give expert advice on the structure and flow of academic writing, as well as her careful copyediting and proofreading.  She also enjoys copyediting non-academic writing, including newsletters and corporate publications.

Justine also has teaching experience at the tertiary level, which has informed her work on the emma study plan

Click here to contact Justine.


Another member of the emma team is long-time Canberra journalist and editor, Ross Peake. He is an accredited editor and has recent experience as managing editor of the ANU Reporter. He has participated in emma study programs, including Grammar in a nutshell. Here are some brief details about Ross:

Ross Peake BA (University of Queensland), AE (IPEd Accredited Editor)

Ross Peake currently drives the editorial directions and production of publications for the Australian Civil Aviation Safety Authority, with earlier experience as a managing editor at the Australian National University and many years as a journalist at Fairfax Media and News Corp.

His skills include organising production of journals and promotional material, editing and proofreading, mentoring, written and oral communication, with a passion for accuracy and an eye for detail. Ross has advanced computer skills and is trained in writing, editing and publishing.

Ross is an Accredited Editor with the Institute of Professional Editors (IPEd) and has a Bachelor of Arts, including journalism studies, from the University of Queensland. He is a professional member of the Canberra Society of Editors. 

Click here to contact Ross.


Meet Ted Briggs. He and Elizabeth were joint Chairs of the IPEd Mentoring Standing Committee, and Program Coordinators for ten years for this program for editors which grew from a small program within the Canberra Society of Editors into a national program and then international with the inclusion of New Zealand. He is experienced in many design areas, including web design and physical design as for concert programs. He is fluent in Spanish. 

Ted Briggs BSc Hons (University of Queensland), MIT (Master, Information Technology) (University of Canberra), AE (IPEd Accredited Editor)  

Ted is an accredited editor and an indexer, and an Honorary Life Member of both the Canberra Society of Editors and the Institute of Professional Editors (IPEd). He has been a delegate to IPEd’s Accreditation Board since 2012, serving as the chair from 2013 to 2017. He was also a joint national coordinator, along with Elizabeth Manning Murphy DE, of the IPEd Mentoring Program for editors since its inception in 2012 until 2022.

Ted’s particular strength is in understanding readers’ needs, and working collaboratively with authors to help them look at what they write from their readers’ perspective, and to make sure their writing is clear, concise, comprehensive, correct, consistent and courteous.

He started off in Information Technology but over the years became more interested in what happened to people when they use technology, which led to careers as a usability specialist and a technical writer and editor. More recently he has been working as an editor on corporate documents with a focus on Defence. Projects he has worked on include Defence white papers, Defence planning guidance, corporate strategies and annual reports.

He has an interest in the use of technology for editing, and is expert in using Microsoft Word, including template development.

Other fields that Ted can edit in are theatre and music – two of his greatest passions in life. 

Most recently, Ted has managed Elizabeth’s presentations of Grammar in a nutshell when the workshop migrated to Zoom during the Covid-19 pandemic. He is now also co-presenting the workshops with Elizabeth. Together, they have also presented regular Mentoring workshops that cover the general concepts of mentoring. These have proved very popular.

In 2021, Ted was awarded the prestigious Janet Mackenzie Medal for his long career in promoting all aspects of the editing profession. His career in editing has been outstanding, and his generosity in helping others to get on as editing continues to evolve has been second to none. We are very honoured to have Ted as a member of our professional group, and as a good friend.  

Click here to contact Ted.


A recent addition to the team is Dr Scott Nichol, a geoscientist writer and editor, and university lecturer with international experience, who has contributed frequently to discussion about editorial issues and training that members of the team have been involved in. He has joined us to add his considerable editing skills to projects involving scientific material and writing in general.

Scott Nichol, BA Hons (ANU), PhD (University of Sydney)

‘During my career as a research scientist, university lecturer and public servant I have built a wealth of experience as a technical writer and editor.  While not formally certified as an editor, my time spent writing and reviewing many scientific papers, technical reports and government documents has been used to develop a good eye for what is written in easily accessible English, is grammatically correct and is engaging to the reader. These skills have also been honed in my years of supervising the writing of Masters and Doctoral theses when I worked at the University of Auckland (New Zealand), and in more recent years as Director of a team of scientists when working at Geoscience Australia (an agency within the Commonwealth Government). I am now semi-retired, working two days a week at Geoscience Australia as a Senior Advisor in marine geoscience. I spend the other days of the week getting outdoors as an avid bushwalker and camper, contributing to the Body Corporate activities of the apartment complex I reside in, and keeping my brain active by reading and occasionally reviewing academic manuscripts.’

Click here to contact Scott.


Other Associates include:

Helen Topor, BA Hons DipEd (UNSW) MEd (Syd Univ)

‘I am the Principal of TopWords, a freelance provider of writing and editing services, and a professional member of the Canberra Society of Editors, the Independent Scholars Association of Australia and the ACT Writers Centre (MARION). I bring to my editing and writing endeavours a commitment to and expertise in clear, concise, effective communication and cross-cultural sensitivity.

‘My editing experience is wide-ranging: academic theses (e.g. cultural policy and practice, social sciences, intelligence, community medicine, foreign aid, education); natural history reports and books; social history; fiction and non-fiction books; and the monthly National Gallery of Arts newsletter for guides.

‘My published non-fiction books are:

  • Discovering Vermeer: A Passionate Quest (2017)
  • Outdoor Games for Today’s Kids (2018)
  • Neither King Nor Saint (2022).

A novel, Catharina, is in progress.

‘I have provided training courses in editing and proofreading for members of the Canberra Society of Editors, given presentations on writing and editing craft, and mentor in editing memoir.

‘As well, I deliver presentations on writing memoir to community groups.’ 

Click here to contact Helen.

Damaris Wilson, BA Hons (ANU-English literature and Linguistics)

‘I have worked as an editor since 1980, initially in the various arms of the Defence Department, when I worked progressively over 20 years on the Manual of Defence Writing, the Defence Force Journal, Air Force publications and classified Intelligence reports. In a freelance capacity I edited issues of the Lu Rees journal (the Lu Rees Archives are now known as the National Centre for Australian Children’s Literature at the University of Canberra). After retiring I owned and ran a secondhand bookshop for four years before being invited to re-enter the public service, where for 10 years I was employed editing in-house forensic papers and a newsletter. I am a professional member of the Canberra Society of Editors. Apart from freelance editing, I now own a secondhand bookshop within the Dirty Janes Canberra Emporium. Although I don’t specialise in a particular genre there, I do have an enduring interest in literary fiction – both for adults and children, including the classic artists associated with such literature – cookery and food, gardening and plants, and travel. And I try to stock plenty of reference material!

‘I have edited autobiographies (military and civilian), a memoir for an eminent ceramicist in the Canberra region, poetry, and theses in various disciplines. Authors of creative work appreciate my attention to their authorial voice, retaining their style while offering rather than imposing advice. The authors have been most appreciative of my sympathetic method and personal one-on-one attention.

‘As an advocate for plain language since its infancy – particularly for the public service – I have attended editing and plain language conferences both nationally and overseas. My university studies were focused on the development of the English language, and of story. Linguistics, Norse language and myths, Middle English and Chaucer through to Dickens and the 20th century, plus regular European travel, have informed my enthusiasm and inspired my continuing engagement with the written word.’ 

Click here to contact Damaris.

(Photographs on this page all supplied or authorised by the subjects themselves.)