Re: Contractions in Tech Writing

Subject: Re: Contractions in Tech Writing
From: Dianne <DianneP -at- PITNET -dot- NET>
Date: Wed, 12 May 1999 14:00:17 -0500

Hello all! I've been lurking here for quite a while and just had to
chirp in on this thread about using contractions in tech writing. I
think it COMPLETELY depends on what you are writing and who
your reader is.

For documentation, I have to agree with the no contractions
consensus. This is usually quite formal writing and needs to be
understood by many different levels of reader: there should be NO
question about what is going on within sentences.

However, for articles, press releases, etc. I DO use contractions. I
usually use variation; sometimes I use contractions, sometimes I
don't. I am an editor for two telecommunications magazines, and I
see many pieces that are written using contractions. We do want
to achieve a conversational tone while imparting the news and
features that our readers want to see. Magazines that seem too
stuffy often don't get read very thoroughly, it seems to me.

Sometimes, using shortcuts communicates to your readers that
you "speak the same language" they do. For example, using the
word "apps" instead of applications might convey that you are
familiar with the language of the field. In our industry, using
acronyms is common: IVR, ACD, VoIP, etc. We do spell them out
for people who may be new to the field, but only on first usage.

I've never had anyone at any time tell me NOT to use contractions.
However, I haven't done any documentation per se, and feel that
the use of contractions there would be wrong.

Just my .02.


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