Grammar Girl's tips for mastering social media lingo

byMargaret Looney
Feb 1, 2012 in Journalism Basics

Cramming breaking news into 140-character tweets can make grammar gurus break a sweat, but Grammar Girl has it under control.

Founder of Quick and Dirty Tips, language superwoman Mignon Fogarty discussed how social media are changing the way we use grammar to communicate in a recent webinar with The Content Wrangler.

IJNet listened in and found a few ways to express yourself on social media without committing heinous language crimes.

To start, know your audience. Abbreviations and acronyms are more suitable for tech magazines than for biology or business outlets.

Grammar Girl herself admits she’d pass over a tweet if she spots a typo, just because it will take that extra second to figure out and there’s no time to pause in social media.

Everyone is “fighting for attention” so making your post easy to read is priority.

Avoid using too many acronyms, numbers or abbreviations. They add that extra ounce of effort that might turn speed readers away.

Don’t skimp on capitalization. Fogarty said it sometimes takes more time to read something with all lowercase letters, and it’s not like they take up fewer characters.

If the above tips don't work, she suggests taking some time to reword the sentence, which she says is a “valuable exercise, like writing haiku where you have constraints and it forces you to think in different ways.”

Now that information online is reachable worldwide, avoid regionalism (in Iowa they say something dirty “needs washed”). Stay current with your language choices (may vs. can is outdated) and don’t be too literal -- she’s over the “ 'more than' vs. over” AP standard.

Image CC-licensed on Flickr by GrammarGirl.