Writing can be formal or informal depending on the message and the audience. In a hurried and increasingly informal world, is there ever an instance where overlap is acceptable? I recently sent a text message to a client to alert her that my computer had crashed. I told her I’d have to reschedule a phone conversation with her, but would be back online soon. She replied that she was very impressed that in the midst of a crisis, I was still writing in complete sentences instead of using texting shorthand. It would have been totally appropriate to use shorthand in text, as I often do in texts and online forums. So why hadn’t I in that moment? Had I unconsciously written a text in full sentences because I didn’t want to be perceived as unprofessional? Or did I resort to what is just natural to me?
In this digital age where marketing writers still need to communicate in print as well as online, is there a place for overlap of language? Our lexicon continues to evolve, and now includes abbreviations such as OMG, LOL and IMO. Many of these abbreviations find their way into our daily conversations so frequently that they become acceptable and, subsequently, added to the dictionary. And because language isn’t static, but develops with the times, we must be adaptable.
It’s essential for marketing writers to understand the nuances of our language—when jargon is appropriate and tailored to the online or “connected” community and when it’s not.
For example, abbreviations are required on Twitter since you only have 140 characters to make your point, but using “U” in place of “you” in an email (unless it’s to a friend) is probably not going to be met with as warm a reception. While conciseness is the foundation of good writing, that should come as a result of good editing—not acronyms or jargon.
What do you think?
Image credit: John Hannafan