Contractions, levels of formality

Subject: Contractions, levels of formality
From: Paul Anderson <ldi -at- CANUCK -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 3 Nov 1998 17:15:33 -0700

Interesting thread. The level of formality is something I'm sure we all
wrestle with. While I was uncomfortable with a blanket ban on contractions
in technical writing, the writer posting to that effect made a valid point
about credibility with the reader and the invisibility of the writer. My
own position would be more or less that audience and purpose should drive
the debate.

Writing product descriptions or an internet book for a young computer
audience will likely mean changes in style and register -- from, say, a
text instructing someone in the handling of radioactive materials.

I write frequently for adults returning to school. I'm convinced that a
friendly, informal tone does a great deal to address their 'affective
filters' -- anxiety in particular. But I wouldn't try to use this tone

For what it's worth

Paul Anderson

>I'd be interested to hear what people have to say about contractions.
>There are more formal
>and less formal forms of writing,all of which can be called technical.
>It's important
>to keep in mind Winston Churchill, who is supposed to have said (about
>prepositions) :
>"That is nonsense with which I will not up put."
>Doug Nickerson
>Bourne, Mass.
>Author: Official Netscape JavaBeans developer's guide
>From ??? -at- ??? Sun Jan 00 00:00:00 0000==
Paul Anderson
ldi -at- canuck -dot- com

From ??? -at- ??? Sun Jan 00 00:00:00 0000=

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