Re: Using Contractions in Software Manuals

Subject: Re: Using Contractions in Software Manuals
From: "Parks, Beverly" <ParksB -at- EMH1 -dot- HQISEC -dot- ARMY -dot- MIL>
Date: Tue, 11 May 1999 10:28:31 -0700

I agree with Mary Choy, but as Dennis said, except when the document will be
translated into another language.

The repeated use of "'em" for "them" about had me grinding my teeth, though.
I know the writer would never use that in their documentaton, but it makes
an illustration. It looked like a *forced* casual tone, and that's something
you should avoid if using contractions in your documentation. If the
contraction comes out naturally, that's good. But, though I sometimes go
back and change a contraction to its individual words, I don't often decide
to turn individual words into a contraction. That would be forcing a casual
tone.

Another thing "'em" reminded me of... I work for the Army and people are
notorious for abbreviating the word "Fort" (when referring to a specific
place) as "Ft." Aside from the fact that military abbreviations aren't
supposed to use periods (except for non-military audiences), abbreviating a
four-letter word with two letters and a period just doesn't save all that
much room! Just like the savings between using "'em" and "them" is only one
character.

Sorry for getting sidetracked. :-)

Bev Parks

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Mary Choy [SMTP:mchoy -at- SIRIUS -dot- COM]
>
> Contractions are great, when used in moderation. They shorten sentences.
> Less
> is more. Visually, users can get through your stuff more quickly! Plus,
> they
> give your writing a bit more approachable of a style/tone.
>
> Also, I agree you should not use them when they reflect a future tense,
> like
> "You'll".
>


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