TechWhirl (TECHWR-L) is a resource for technical writing and technical communications professionals of all experience levels and in all industries to share their experiences and acquire information.
For two decades, technical communicators have turned to TechWhirl to ask and answer questions about the always-changing world of technical communications, such as tools, skills, career paths, methodologies, and emerging industries. The TechWhirl Archives and magazine, created for, by and about technical writers, offer a wealth of knowledge to everyone with an interest in any aspect of technical communications.
Subject:Re: Contractions From:Rose Wilcox <RWILC -at- FAST -dot- DOT -dot- STATE -dot- AZ -dot- US> Date:Wed, 5 Apr 1995 17:32:00 PDT
I know that contractions shouldn't be used in tech writing, but
I can't find where it says this.
Well, darn it, I like contractions in technical writing, and as a lead
I have blessed their use in our documentation.
However, those of you who use the grammar checker in Word may
notice that contractions (unless you turn the option off) get flagged
as inappropriate in formal writing.
Also the Handbook of Technical Writing, 3rd ed. states:
"Contractions are often used in speech but should be used
discriminatingly in reports, formal letters, and most technical
I read somewhere that there is a trend in tech writing away from such
formal writing; however, I cannot remember where I read this!
I imagine you will find this list polarized on this issue, with slightly
more writers leaning towards the formal style.
I also imagine that the audience and purpose of your document should
figure into any style decisions that you make. If you are writing to a
highly educated audience that you want to impress with your
erudition, you may want to take a more formal tone.
Otherwise, you may want to keep the writing light.
Looking forward to reading more replies on this issue:
rwilc -at- fast -dot- dot -dot- state -dot- az -dot- us
ncrowe -at- primenet -dot- com
"In all other writing, I refuse to kowtow to the perverse
beliefs of dead poets."
- Steve Fouts (quoted with permission - although
out of context :-))