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Which rules for online writing are worth following?: A study of eight rules in eleven handbooks

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1 Author(s)
Mackiewicz, J. ; Composition Dept., Minnesota Univ., Duluth, MN, USA

Professionals, like technical specialists, have increasingly needed to engage in online communications such as email or posts to online discussion lists. As the amount of their writing has increased, rules for online writing, such as, "Make subject headings short and descriptive," have emerged. However, the extent to which such rules have become conventionalized, standard practice is not known. Consequently, the extent to which writers should concern themselves with following these rules is unclear. In this study, I examine eight rules in 11 handbooks for online writing, analyzing the frequency with which these rules are stated, the extent to which these rules are consistently stated, and the extent to which following the rules is justified. The results show that five of the eight rules are emerging as standard practice but that rules relating to greetings and farewells in emails, emoticons, and abbreviations are not yet standardized.

Published in:

Professional Communication, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:46 ,  Issue: 2 )