"Netiquette" is network etiquette: The do's and don'ts of online communication. While Netiquette covers both formal (professional) and the informal rules for communicating on line, we'll focus on the formal communication rules in this post.
Writing can be divided into many different categories. One of the main divides is between informal online and formal writing:
Informal online writing is seen in text messages (texting) and also in personal emails. For many people, personal emailing is being replaced by texting. In order to more quickly type what they are trying to say, many people use abbreviations and acronyms instead of words. The language created by these abbreviations is called "text speak".Formal writing includes business writing, formal letters, and academic writing.
The vehicle for writing (text, email, paper) is not the distinction between informal and formal writing. The style of writing is.
Some people believe that using text speak is hindering the writing abilities of students, and the communication effectiveness of professionals. While this is a debate issue, the first thing to understand is that informal writing is not "wrong", nor is formal writing "right". Each is appropriate for certain circumstances. As an analogy, while it's perfectly acceptable to go out in jeans and a t-shirt, that may not be the best choice of what to wear when working in the office or going on a job interview.
When deciding whether your message should be written formally, consider who will be reading it and why. If your audience is just your friends and the purpose of your message is to let them know about where you will meet later in the day, you probably don't need to use the rules of formal writing. However, if you are presenting a proposal to your boss, writing a cover letter for job application, or writing a research paper for a teacher, the formal rules of writing typically apply.
Some Basic Rules of using Netiquette for Formal Writing
- Use a sophisticated vocabulary with terms that are accepted in the topic's field.
- Keep a serious tone with literal meanings.
- Organize the writing into paragraphs that fit together.
- Avoid contractions (i.e. can't, don't, etc.).
- Use standard spelling. No text speak or chat acronyms, such as "CUL8R" or "LOL".
- Use proper grammar and standard punctuations.
For more information about Netiquette and formal writing, here are some great resources:
"The Elements of Style", William Strunk & E.B. White: First published in 1959 and updated many times since, this is one of the most influential books on writing style."Netiquette IQ: A Comprehensive Guide to Improve, Enhance and Add Power to Your Email", Paul Babicki. Paul Babicki is an email grammar, tone and content software subject matter expert, and developed an email IQ rating system called Netiquette IQ.
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