Re: How formal or informal?

Subject: Re: How formal or informal?
From: Mike Stockman <stockman -at- jagunet -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 09 Mar 2001 09:58:53 -0500

At 08:35 AM 3/9/2001 -0500, Alan -dot- Miller -at- prometric -dot- com wrote:

I would also avoid contractions. They can be confusing to non-native
speakers--how many native speakers of English confuse its and it's, ones
and one's, your and you're?

Don't confuse writing with reading. When writing, many people confuse the words you mention, and many native speakers get them wrong. When reading, however, just about nobody confuses those words. It's much easier to understand those words when they're handed to you (as in reading), instead of having to choose among the three variation of "its" (as in writing).

I've had editors tell me to avoid contractions for a lot of reasons:

* Translation issues. At the same time, I've also had translators tell me that's not reasonable. How can anyone make a valid translation of a document from English without knowing about contractions, and how to handle them? If a translator came to me and said "I can't figure out how to translate 'it's' in this sentence," I'd be very skeptical of his translation skills in general.

* Reading comprehension issues. I addressed those above. It's easy to read almost any contraction, regardless of how difficult it may be to write it correctly.

* Concerns over a "less formal style" issue, which is a valid choice made by the client's organization. Can't really argue with this one.

So unless a client or organization specifically requests a more formal style, and fewer companies are doing that these days, I don't go out of my way to avoid contractions. Hey, millions of Dummies books can't be wrong, can they? ;-) (Disclaimer: I wrote one.)



Develop HTML-Based Help with Macromedia Dreamweaver 4 ($100 STC Discount)
**New Dates!!** San Francisco (Apr 16-17), San Jose (Mar 29-30) or 800-646-9989.

IPCC 01, the IEEE International Professional Communication Conference,
October 24-27, 2001 at historic La Fonda in Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA.

You are currently subscribed to techwr-l as: archive -at- raycomm -dot- com
To unsubscribe send a blank email to leave-techwr-l-obscured -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com
Send administrative questions to ejray -at- raycomm -dot- com -dot- Visit for more resources and info.

Previous by Author: Re: cross references in Word
Next by Author: Re: Technical Writing, QA, and Training
Previous by Thread: Re: How formal or informal?
Next by Thread: Re: How formal or informal?

What this post helpful? Share it with friends and colleagues:

Sponsored Ads