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Tech Talk with Greg Bailey

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Typing etiquette is a bit of a complicated issue, mainly because there are so many different situations where you might be typing a message to someone else. While there are some constants, there are just as many things that only apply in certain scenarios. Sometimes a message that looks like a text is good enough and sometimes you need to type normally. But there are a few rules that are mostly universal.

One of the most common breaches of typing etiquette is typing in all capital letters (caps) at all times.

This is not appropriate in almost every setting regardless of formality of the situation, familiarity of the people you are communicating with, or medium of communication. Typing a word in all caps is a way to emphasize -- typing everything in all caps is the equivalent of shouting constantly in real life.

All caps lettering can be used for certain headlines or words that are meant to be eye-catching, but as a means for communication, typing in all caps should always be avoided.

Grammar and spelling rules tend to fluctuate depending on where people communicate online. When sending an e-mail, it’s best to type normally. If you are on a message board or forum, the same applies. In the above cases, no one will jump down your throat for making a mistake or two, but a well typed out message will typically be better received than one that isn’t.

Different website communities have different standards however, looking at some messages posted by other people will give a better idea of what level of discourse is expected.

For something like an instant message service or a chat room, accuracy tends to be much less of an issue. Most Internet users treat these systems as a way to quickly communicate with others. Things like a period at the end of a sentence or capitalizing an i that is by itself serve purposes grammatically, but don’t really help in understanding a chat message Spelling also, while important, probably doesn't make or break understanding of what someone is trying to say.

This isn’t to say that you should intentionally dumb down your typing while in a more casual setting, but that the most important aspect of typing in pure Internet chat is readability, not technical correctness. In fact, being too loose with what you type can make what someone types much harder to read. Chat abbreviations can be useful, but when they are combined with shoddy grammar and spelling people have to waste time trying to decipher what was written.

Any questions, requests for clarifications, or comments can be sent to gregbailey9@ gmail.com. Greg Bailey is a Computer Science major at UCR.

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