Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Abbreviations and your audience

One of the keys to writing well is focusing on your audience--making sure what you write is specific to their needs, while remaining both concise and precise. Today more than ever before, however, it's easy to take the whole "concise" thing too far, given the increasing role that abbreviations and non-standard language are playing in communication. The main problem with such abbreviations is that unless you're certain your audience knows how to decode your writing, you're making them do too much work.

This has gone well beyond common acronyms like "lol," "ttyl," and "brb." A lot of writers--especially younger writers--have gotten used to saying more with less, and it's becoming a bad habit. Remember, the more formal the communication, the less likely it is that abbreviations and slang are going to be received well. Remember too, that it's your job as a writer to make it as easy as possible for your audience to understand what you're saying. By taking shortcuts, you're asking the audience to do the majority of the work--and giving them an excuse to focus on something else that's easier for them to understand,

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