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Part IV: Polishing Your Cybermanners > Punctuating with Smileys and Shorthand

Chapter 23. Punctuating with Smileys and Shorthand

Unlike one-on-one meetings and telephone conversations, e-mail is a communications vehicle devoid of inflection, facial expression, and body language. To help readers interpret the e-mail writer’s attitude and tone, smileys—also known as emoticons—were created as visual shorthand. Smileys, which are created with standard keyboard characters, are used by some writers to substitute for facial expressions and body language. Generally the smiley follows the punctuation mark at the end of a sentence.

The equivalent of e-mail slang, smileys should be used sparingly in personal e-mail, and not at all in business writing. Those unfamiliar with smileys will not understand them; more experienced readers will label you an e-mail novice if you overuse them. Rely on the strength of your writing—not smileys, exclamation points, or other gimmicks—to communicate your intended message in the appropriate tone.


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