Re: Contractions

Subject: Re: Contractions
From: "Susan W. Gallagher" <sgallagher -at- EXPERSOFT -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 7 Mar 1996 14:10:13 -0800

At 10:25 AM 3/7/96 EST, Tara Barber wrote:
>Michal Lastman asked:

>> What are the reasons for and against using contractions in technical
>> writing?

>Well, as with most things, it depends on your writing style and your audience.
>But the bottom line is the same as for most things in technical writing. Use
>it if it adds to comprehension and "flow", and don't if it doesn't.

I agree, totally. Many will caution against contractions if a work is
to be translated. But, if it isn't headed overseas and is informal in
tone, contractions are appropriate.

>In practical terms, however, not all contractions are created equal. We're
>much more likely to use some contractions (can't, won't, shouldn't, it's) then
>others (you'll, you've, should've, etc.) Hummm. Seems like we use more
>negative contractions than positive. Something Freudian, perhaps?

I, OTOH, am more apt to use positive contractions than negative -- most
commonly: you'll, you're, you've, it's... Somewhere in my deepest darkest
distantest ;-) past, I heard a caution about contracting a negative
because the reader might miss the "n't" and take the statement positively.

In general, if the writing is less that *absolutely* formal and if the
contracted expression is not likely to be misunderstood, go for it.

-Sue Gallagher
sgallagher -at- expersoft -dot- com

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