The Judge Rules for "E-mail" with a Big "E" : WebRef Update Feature | WebReference

The Judge Rules for "E-mail" with a Big "E" : WebRef Update Feature

The Judge Rules for "E-mail" with a Big "E"

In the previous article, "I Say E-Mail, You Say Email," I received many responses from you, both positive and fuhgettaboutit! One reader opened my eyes and asked why I didn't check with the Chicago Manual of Style (CMS) or Strunk and White's Manual. I belong in jail for that. I should have checked those resources instead of listening to my wooden brain and thinking that there would be no techie (no, it's not in the dictionary, but I'm going to use it anyway) terms in these references.

Also, my using the Wired Style as a resource stirred up some controversy since some of you stated that it is not the authoritative resource for the English language on the technical side. That is true and I did use THE source this time (Webster, what else?). However, new words don't get into the dictionary quickly and the Internet is still young.

Got the whole world in my handheld - revisited

Like a good girl, I did more research. My CMS is sorely outdated. I found the CMS Web site as well as the Merriam-Webster Dictionary Web site. I wrote to Webster about the term "handheld." The reply, "The word "palmtop" may not be "official" in the sense of having a dictionary entry. However, it is a word that is quite commonly used these days. That alone makes it a legitimate word." And Webster expects that it will be in a future edition of the dictionary based on its common use.

Furthermore, when an E-zine used "PDA" in one of its articles, I promptly wrote to the editor and argued the use of public display of affection in its non-lovey dovey (Whoops! I broke another rule.) article about the personal digital assistant. He stated that palmtop was not a word and public display of affection went out long ago. Sorry Charlie, as you saw previously, "palmtop" is acceptable. Now, as for PDA, Sir Webster had a good point that PC has stood for many things from politically correct to Peace Corps and of course, personal computer. He provided all the reasonable doubt I needed and PDA now means love in two ways: expressing love to another and protecting your handheld like the love of your life.

In conclusion, review your company's style guide, if it has one. If that fails, check with the dictionary and finally, common sense.

This ain't <duh> no open and shut case

Ms. Meryl - Two Syllables and Not One, was correct in stating that it is "Web site" and not "website." Strangely enough, Mr. Webster complicated matters and didn't even have "Web site" listed! If you can't find a word combination in the dictionary, then it should remain open or you'll go to grammar jail for shutting it. The only Internet-related "Web" I could find was World Wide Web and it is big triple dubyas (in reference to George "dubya" Bush). Thus, this same formula should apply to "Web page" and "web head." As for "webmaster," my source at Webster said that it would likely to be in an upcoming edition as one word.

[ed: uses proper case "Web" when used as one word, like "the Web," or "Web site," but "webmaster," etc are lower case. Some only proper case "the Web" when referred to in its entirety.]

Also space out "home page," "end user," "pull down," "drop down," "mouse click," "in box," and "site map." The first two are in the dictionary just as I typed them. The rest aren't listed. Only "homepage" and "mouseclick" were listed in Wired's book and they recommend blending them though traditionalists would argue against this. Very gray area, indeed. Since there's no official word, use common sense and be consistent in your document.

The higher authority of lexicography and Wired recognize these words as shut-ins: "upload," "download," "printout," and "bookmark." Now, are you using "upload" and "download" properly? I admit that I was a total dunce in the beginning about these two terms, but I've since become smart after joining Dilbert's DNRC (if you don't know what that is, then you're an induhvidual!). Anyway, "download" represents what you steal from another computer. In other words, most people downloaded MP3s and few uploaded. But without uploads, you'd have nothing to download! Got it? Good.

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This article originally appeared in the November 23, 2000 edition of the WebReference Update Newsletter.

Comments are welcome
Written by Meryl Evans and

Revised: November 30, 2000