Re: Contractions

Subject: Re: Contractions
From: David Demyan <concord -at- IX -dot- NETCOM -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 7 Apr 1995 07:29:52 -0700

Susan wrote:

>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???

More inviting? How can contractions make information more inviting?
I am put off by forced and false familiarity in writing.

Less intimidating? Yes, I agree with this one. It is more intimidating
to write, for example:

WARNING: DO NOT stick your wet tongue in the empty light socket, even
if you think power is off!

than to write the homey:

Don't stick your wet tongue in the light socket or you'll be in for
a real shock.

Easier to read? I have a real problem with this one. Can you convince
me it is actually easier to read AND UNDERSTAND the following contractions
than their fully-written counterparts?

I'd, you'd, can't, I'll, would've.

Even English-speaking readers would have to spend a little more time
and effort to fully understand what you are writing. Foreign-born
readers may have to ask such questions as: *Don't: is that do not or
donut?* We can not (lack of contraction intentional) afford such
ambiguity in our writing.

For clarity, avoid contractions.


Dave Demyan *** Mendem Concord, Inc.
(908) 753-8500 *** One Mountain Blvd.
concord -at- ix -dot- netcom -dot- com *** Warren, NJ 07059
FAX: (908) 754-8224

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