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    #1

    Does a telegraph writing style break Englihs Grammar rules?

    I am proofreading a technical website content (on antispamming software)
    trying to make it appealing and readable
    to its target audience - technical or IT-aware reader.

    That is to reduce its content (wordiness) 3-8 times.

    One of the way is to use phrases without subjects.
    Example of such writing I am targeting to
    I do not know its name but would like to call it by Telegraph Style.
    What is its correct name?


    I found reference to close style used for on-line newspaper articles
    called as Inverted Pyramid Style

    The problem is that I am confronted with reputation of authors of
    current (rather unreadbale to me as Engineer) webcontent
    who are practicing professionals in English - non-native English teachers and linguists
    knowing very well and sticking to reputed resources on English rules:
    - the English grammar rules, handbooks,
    - English tests,
    - what theuy teach or have been learned,
    - etc.
    while I am just an Engineer and a technical reader.

    Can you help me in finding references to (preferably online) resources:
    • English Grammar rules
    • authoritative handbooks
    • examples
    • etc.

    proving that Telegraph Style
    (or what is its name in IT technical writing?)
    does not break correctness of English and its readability?
    Last edited by vgv8; 30-Dec-2010 at 10:11. Reason: formatting

  1. lauralie2's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: Does a telegraph writing style break Englihs Grammar rules?

    Quote Originally Posted by vgv8 View Post
    One of the way is to use phrases without subjects. Example of such writing I am targeting to I do not know its name but would like to call it by Telegraph Style. What is its correct name?
    Are you talking about the bullet lists? The reason I ask, there's a problem with parallel phrasing.

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    #3

    Re: Does a telegraph writing style break Englihs Grammar rules?

    Not exactly.Bullets are just bullets.
    In the link I gave, there are non-bulleted (and out of any lists) sentences without explicitly written subject :
    "Adds CAPTCHA anti-spam methods to WordPress on the comment form, registration form, login, or all."
    "Adds security."
    "Works great with Akismet"
    "Also is fully WP, WPMU, and BuddyPress compatible"

    This is quite ubiquitous style in online technical writing (of websites content)
    Last edited by vgv8; 30-Dec-2010 at 18:09. Reason: corrected some typos

  2. lauralie2's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: Does a telegraph writing style break Englihs Grammar rules?

    Quote Originally Posted by vgv8 View Post
    In the link I gave...
    I did the reading (both sites), and what a great deal of it there was... Bullet lists or not, parallel phrasing is a problem throughout (including the information introduced by bullets). For example:
    Adds CAPTCHA anti-spam methods to WordPress on the comment form and registration forms, on login, or all [of what?] Also is and is fully compatible with WP, WPMU, and BuddyPress compatible.

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    #5

    Re: Does a telegraph writing style break Englihs Grammar rules?

    Quote Originally Posted by lauralie2 View Post
    Adds CAPTCHA anti-spam methods to WordPress on the comment form and registration forms, on login, or all [of what?]
    all mentioned before. It is clear for technical reader - captcha can be placed on some of the mentioned webpages or all of them.

    Though, the point was not in proofreading that post but in writing sentences without subjects.
    What's wrong with it?
    I can give more exhaustive list of examples, but I was completely sure that it was well-known style since it is ubiquitous in on-line technical copywriting.

  3. apex2000's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: Does a telegraph writing style break Englihs Grammar rules?

    As you are writing for technical and IT aware readers then using the well recognised shortened forms found on many tech sites should not be a problem. However you also say you want to make it appealing and readable. So cutting down on the content may do the opposite (incidentally the word you are looking for is précis).

    Perhaps what you need to do is think about the subject differently. We all know what anti-spam software is but what we really want to know is which is the very best. To make your subject both appealing and readable concentrate on what has the most appeal to a buyer in a normal style and add all the other tech bits as bullets and use two or more colums if necessary to condense the number of pages.

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    #7

    writing sentences without subject and/or verb

    Quote Originally Posted by apex2000 View Post
    So cutting down on the content may do the opposite (incidentally the word you are looking for is précis).
    Well, précis is just old-fashioned academic summary for research-like (print) papers from the 19th century. Seems like quite contrary to what I searched for. It would have been strange to write only (different) summaries for an one software product on a hundred of webpages.

    I understood that I already do not look for any word.
    I just want to know:
    What is the problem in writing a sentence without the subject and/or the verb?
    The example of latter is:
    "Sure. If I got up ..."

    Why am I told that such a sentence is against the rules of English Grammar and how can I prove the contrary?

  4. apex2000's Avatar
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    #8

    Re: Does a telegraph writing style break Englihs Grammar rules?

    It is not against the rules - it is normal usage, and you will see it in so much that is written as well. So do not waste time trying to prove/disprove.

    'précis' is quite common and used in teaching English, but I am not sure it is still part of the schools curriculum, whereas there was always a question in English exams - make a précis of the following passage - as a test of understanding, being able to pick out the essentials and write them in a reduced format without losing any of the original understanding.

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