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object-oriented programming

See [OOP]
oblique stroke

See [forward slash]

One word. Offline specifically means not connected to a network, but is also used to refer to the non-web or “real” world.

offline promotion

Remember, a website has no real physical visibility. Without promotion, your potential readers—whether they be staff or customers—may be unaware of your website’s existence and what it can do for them.

While it would be wonderful to have a major media campaign promoting your site, for many sites this is just not an affordable option. However, at a minimal cost, you can ensure that your potential audience is at least aware of your site by including the website address prominently on all printed company material. Think constantly of ways to let your potential audience know that your website exists, for example by displaying brochures in your physical place of business (if you have one) promoting the site. If it’s an intranet, create posters or leaflets that highlight to employees new or important sections of the website.

See also [promoting content]

on (the) screen, onscreen

Two words as a noun (preferably using the or a), one word as an adjective:

The text on the screen is hard to read.

Onscreen text is hard to read.


One word. Connected to a network or the Internet.

online community

This is a group of people drawn together on the Internet as a result of common interests. An online community is not framed by where people live. Online communities can be very beneficial from a social point of view, but their commercial benefits are more questionable. However, done right, online communities can be an excellent source of interactivity and content.

See also [reader-generated content]

online reader

People read differently when they’re online than when they’re reading printed text. The Internet and computer screens still represent relatively awkward technology. It’s harder to look at things on a screen than in a magazine. Research by Sun Microsystems (1998) found that reading from computer screens is 25 percent slower than from paper. Online readers tend to be less patient than print readers. On the Web, readers scan pages before they read anything, looking for headings, key phrases, and numbers, and if they’re not intrigued by what they see, the Back button is only a mouseclick away. To be a successful Web writer you need to be ever mindful of the itchy finger poised over the mouse.

only (misplaced)

Generally, only should be attached to the word or phrase it modifies. Excessive misplacement of only can cause ambiguity.

Incorrect: I only swim on Sundays. (I don’t eat, sleep, etc.—I only swim.)

Correct: I swim only on Sundays.

onscreen capitalization

With onscreen text (on Webpages, interfaces, etc.), as with everything else, the style leans toward lowercase (capitalize the first word and proper nouns only). Lowercase is easier to scan read.

See also [buttons]
See also [checkboxes]
See also [menu]
See also [scan reading]


Stands for object-oriented programming, a type of programming in which programmers can define both the data type that can be applied to a data structure and the types of operations (functions) that can be applied to that data structure. The object (data structure) includes both data and functions.

open source

Of or relating to a source code of a software program that is freely available to the public, so that other programers can make additions and improvements. Organizations and individuals do this with the intention of creating a more useful product that is widely available to the Internet community. A basic rule of open source is that any addition or improvement made to the software code must also be made freely available to the community. Examples of open source include the Apache Web server software and the Linux operating system software.

open standards

Open standards relate to a set of rules and approaches to a particular computer environment that are developed and managed by a common, generally non-profit, organization, not controlled by any one organization or group of organizations. The Internet is an example of open standards, and HTML is a specific set of standards evolved for the common use of all. Open standards ensure that the maximum number of individuals and organizations can contribute to and make use of a standard.

opt-in, opt-out

Terms used to describe permission-based newsletters and online services. Subscribers can choose to receive information (opt-in) and can at a later date choose not to receive it any more (opt-out). Double opt-in is becoming the standard.

See also [double opt-in]

Orwell’s rules

The following six rules for writers, defined by the British novelist George Orwell, are the most concise aids to better writing that have ever been written:

  1. Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech that you are used to seeing in print.

  2. Never use a long word where a short one will do.

  3. If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.

  4. Never use the passive [voice] where you can use the active.

  5. Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.

  6. Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.



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