Can you believe it? Writing is cool again. Well, virtual writing. The truth is that much of what passes for writing in cyberspace is dreadful. The spelling in email is rotten, the grammar is atrocious, the punctuation—don’t ask. And email isn’t the half of it. No wonder people who love language are wringing their hands and saying the computer has been a disaster for the written word.
Now back up just a nanosecond. We love language too, but we think the computer may turn out to be the best thing that’s happened to writing since the printing press.
The important thing is that we’re writing again, and it’s better to write badly than not at all. If our writing needs work, we can do something about it. Writing is a skill like any other.
People who still ask whether online writing has to be good writing just don’t get it. Words, whether etched in stone, written in sand, sent by Morse code, inked on parchment, or transmitted in bytes, serve only one purpose: to connect us with other people. When you write well, you connect. When you write badly, you don’t.
PART I: The Virtual Mensch
- PROTOCOOL: Attitude Adjustment
- ALL’S WELL THAT SENDS WELL: Anatomy of an E-Mail
- TO E OR NOT TO E: When Online’s Out of Line
- ACCUSTOMED TO YOUR INTERFACE: Keeping the Reader in Mind
- A CLICK AND A PROMISE: Getting the Facts Straight
PART II: Alpha Mail
- NATURAL SELECTION: Conciser Is Nicer
- THE E-MAIL EUNUCH: Beefing Up Wussy Writing
- THE TRITE STUFF: Nipping Clichés in the Bud
- WIRED WRITE: Are You Making Sense?
- GET A VIRTUAL LIFE: Operating Instructions
PART III: Words of Passage
- GRAMMAR Á LA MODEM: A Crash Course
- GO CONFIGURE: Abused, Confused, and Misused Words
- ALPHABET SOUP: Spelling It Right
- PERIOD PIECE: The Perils of Punctuation
Are you a virtual mensch?
Test your email IQ.
Advance Praise for You Send Me
“I love e-mail, but my love for it would run even deeper if everyone followed the sound advice given here by Patricia T. O’Conner and Stewart Kellerman. Then, too, their concise, lively writing in this book demonstrates the virtues they preach. If more people did as they say and did as they do, the world of words would be a better place.”
— Barbara Wallraff, author of Word Court
“Before you click ‘Send,’ read You Send Me. With common sense and uncommon humor, O’Conner and Kellerman show you how to accomplish the most important task you’ll ever attempt on a computer: communicating with other people.”
— David Feldman, author of the Imponderables series
“Pat O’Conner has been a consistently keen observer of the ways our language is changing. With this book she and Stewart Kellerman make it clear that the future of English (God help us) is in e-mail.”
— Leonard Lopate, talk show host, WNYC
“A lively and articulate guide to taking full advantage of the greatest thing to happen to communication since the invention of print.”
— Richard Lederer, author of The Write Way