So how important do you think correct grammar, punctuation and spelling are in the following situations?
- Business e-mails
- Personal e-mails
- Instant messages
- Blog posts
- Twitter tweets
- Online forum posts
- Text messages
- Writing code
I used to be terrible at punctuation and grammar when online. Not because I didn’t know the rules, but because it took too much effort. I started back in the last half of the 1990s when I started instant messaging and e-mailing lots of people (friends and family). When I “grew up” and got a real job, I found that this carried over into a lot of my work e-mails as well. I had enough sense to send “correct” e-mails to customers and clients, but I didn’t seem to find it important for internal messages.
Let me first say that I am sure that almost every post, e-mail, IM and tweet have one or more errors, but somewhere along the way, I’ve changed. Now, in all but the shortest, three word e-mail responses to close friends or family I make the extra effort to try to clean it up, even if the other person doesn’t do the same. Even in 95+% of my text messages I try to spell words out, add apostrophes and punctuate. Even in my code I’ve found that I am better about things — better variable names, more consistent capitalization, more complete sentences in my comments, etc.
I don’t know why I changed on this. Maybe because I started dealing with more and more customers and got used to it. Maybe it was the English class I had to take when I finally finished my B.S. program in 2002. Maybe it was the four years I spent in the interactive department and a newspaper. Maybe it’s because I thought it would make me cooler (I need all the help I can get).
Anyway, now I have a little dilemma. Twitter limits tweets to 140 characters. It’s sometimes hard to put a well constructed sentence together in 140 characters. Of my whopping 28 tweets so far, only 4 or 5 fail my tests. Of the rest, most are complete sentences and some are partial sentences similar to news headlines.
There’s no real point to this post. It was just something I noticed about myself and wondered what thoughts other people have about this.