Re: Dumb question: is it "email", "Email", "e-mail", or "E-mail"

Subject: Re: Dumb question: is it "email", "Email", "e-mail", or "E-mail"
From: "Charles Fisher" <Charles_Fisher -at- datatel -dot- com>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Fri, 9 Jan 2009 07:52:39 -0500

When I saw this thread, I had to laugh - a nervous, frantic sort of laugh -
and my eye started twitching. Years ago we decided here to use "e-mail" as
our standard for technical documents. As the manager at the time my thought
was, "the differences are not critical and no one is likely to get confused
if we select one over the other - so let's pick one and be consistent in
our usage." However, our marketing folks decided to use "email" as their
standard, and that started a small war over who gets to decide such things,
and whether we need to be consistent between content/usage in marketing
materials and product documentation. We also did the google wars with the
counts of each variation. All of this back and forth required me to type
the words "e-mail" and "email" many many times, and after that experience I
was thoroughly convinced that "email" was the way to go: you can just type
the letters, with no dashes or caps. [Yes it's true: I have been working as
a tech writer for 99,000 years and I never learned to type properly.]

Given that new words tend to streamline themselves as they get entrenched
into our vocabulary, we probably should have settled on "email" from the
start, and we now choose to look forward and choose streamlined variations
for terms that are still on the bubble.

Of course, audience needs always come into play with this decision, as
others have noted. One of the first responders to this thread said
something like, "pick one and be consistent." All good advice. And if there
is a need to change, there's always the global search and replace


Charles D. Fisher, M.S., Technology Management
Lead Documentation Specialist
Datatel, Inc.
How higher education does business.

Roanoke, VA Phone: 540-345-1947 (system speed 174)
Roanoke, VA FAX: 540-345-1947 (call first)
Datatel Voicemail: x4603
E-Mail: cdf -at- datatel -dot- com

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