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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Business Writing: Acronyms Make Me Work Too Hard! | Lynn Gaertner-Johnston, Syntax Training

Gaetner-Johnston begins her column with two excellent questions:
What do writers have against me and other readers?

Why do they splatter acronyms and initialisms across their messages to us without telling us what they mean?
I'd like to add a question I suggest to writers in the abbreviations and acronyms entry of my online editorial style manual:
Do I want to abbreviate or shorten a word or phrase to aid me as the writer and typist, or do I want to aid the reader?
If writers answer "the reader," they're on the right track. My style manual entry continues:
Use abbreviations and acronyms only when they will help your readers by making written text simpler and less cumbersome. If you're trying to save yourself time and energy as the writer or typist, your priorities are a mess. Do not use an abbreviation or acronym that would confuse your readers, that they would not recognize quickly. When in doubt, spell it out. ...
My style manual then provides other specific advice on using--and not using--abbreviations and acronyms. And I recommend it to you.

Gaetner-Johnston writes:
One way to get results is to communicate clearly--to avoid making readers work to discern your meaning.
And then her column lists six rules that I also recommend.
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This article is featured today (Oct. 24) in Garbl's Plain English Paragraphs--available at the Plain Language tab above and by free email subscription.

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