The Yahoo Style Guide Answers Questions About Web Writing

This was originally posted on NPowering, the blog of NPower Seattle on July 12, 2010.

Yahoo Style GuideHave you wondered whether you should be writing “email” or “e-mail”? Should be “Web site” or “website”?

To help with questions like these, Yahoo has recently published “The Yahoo! Style Guide: Writing, Editing, and Creating content in the Digital World”, and hopes will be the definitive style and grammar guide for online writing. (To answer the questions above, they weigh in with “email” and “website”.)

The Yahoo Style Guide stands to serve as a convenient reference for grammatical questions and writing style for the web. While the free, online version is said to only contain excerpts from the printed book, it still contains enough content and advice to serve as a stand-alone reference for many users. Those interested in reading the full version can purchase print copies from several online book sellers. Here are a few of the rules included in the online guide to give you an idea:

  • Don’t include the http:// before a website address or the slash (/) at the end when writing. For instance, when writing out a web address, use instead of writing out . The “www” part of internet addresses is optional.
  • File names should remain in all lower case letters (setup.exe), but extension and file types should be in all caps (JPEG, GIF).
  • Use their word list to look up how to spell out or use tech-related words. In addition to preferring “email” and “website”, they also prefer “3D” over “3-D”, and they say that we are not supposed to use “Google” as a verb. (Use phrases like “search for” instead.)

More than just new spelling and grammar rules, the guide has a lot of great tips for writing content for the web. Visit their “Writing for the Web” section for a lot of good articles on topics like identifying your audience, search engine optimization, writing for mobile readers, gender-neutral language, and site accessibility.

Take a look through the Yahoo! Style Guide and let us know what you think in the comments. Are you an “e-mail” person? Do you have other style guides that you prefer for online writing?