Re: Contractions

Subject: Re: Contractions
From: "Susan W. Gallagher" <sgallagher -at- STARBASECORP -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 6 Apr 1995 10:22:37 -0700

> Jackie says:
> I know that contractions shouldn't be used in tech writing, but
> I can't find where it says this.

And Rosie says...
> Well, darn it, I like contractions in technical writing, and as a lead
> writer,
> I have blessed their use in our documentation.
> 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.

I too, use contractions in technical documents -- particularly
in end-user documentation. I believe it removes some (but not
all) of the intimidation factor from software documentation.

Just as passive voice used to be considered more "appropriate"
for formal writing and isn't considered so anymore, I think
that contractions will come into their own relatively quickly.

Anything that you can do to make technical information more
inviting, less intimidating, and easier to read can't be
a bad thing, now... Can it???

Sue Gallagher
StarBase Corp, Irvine CA
sgallagher -at- starbasecorp -dot- com

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