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The most used and abused letter on the Internet. There is much discussion about whether to accept or reject the plethora of words that have been coined by adding e to an existing word. Whether you decide to use all or only some of these new words is a decision for your editors to make and incorporate into your style guide. We recommend that if a word is in common usage, use it; if it’s not, don’t. The world of Web language is an ever-changing one and it’s a careful balancing act to get the right mix between allowing for its changing nature and being a stickler for “traditional” language.

Likewise, whether to hyphenate words beginning with e is also a controversial (in editing circles at any rate) area. At the moment, the unhyphenated form seems to be gaining ground over the hyphenated version—take email as an example. There are valid usage arguments for retaining the hyphen, but like the Oxford English Dictionary, we take a descriptive rather than a proscriptive approach to language. As always, decide on the spelling you will use, add it to your style guide, and apply it consistently.


Electronic book.


Business conducted over the Internet.

See also [B2B]


Any sales conducted over the Internet, but increasingly used to refer to retail sales to consumers.

See also [B2C]

ecommerce/shopping-cart navigation

Ecommerce or shopping-cart navigation allows the reader to move through a purchase process. Key links in this navigation should be presented in a prominent position on every page, generally near the top of the page, or in the masthead. Ecommerce navigation will include links such as: “Shopping cart,” “Account,” “Help.”

Amazon ecommerce navigation links can be found on the top right of its masthead (see www.Amazon.com).

A number of surveys have shown that an alarming number of people fail to complete purchase processes on websites, a key reason being because people find the process too complicated and/or too long. The need to simplify the ecommerce purchase navigation cannot be overemphasized.

When designing ecommerce navigation, ask only for the information that is vital to complete the purchase, and test, test, test.

See also [navigation]


Stands for Electronic Data Interchange, the electronic communication of business documents or other data between companies. Increasingly, Internet ebusiness systems are replacing traditional EDI systems.

editing content

Editing is about preparing content for publication. It is an essential quality control function. Editing is about making sure that the good stuff gets published and the bad stuff doesn’t. It’s about making sure that what is published reflects the publication scope, the key messages, the agreed style and tone, etc. Good editing makes for a good publication; poor editing makes for a bad one.

Poor editing is becoming an unfortunate hallmark of Web content. A car manufacturer would never allow a new car off a production line covered in scratches, yet content is published every day on the Web littered with grammatical and punctuation mistakes. The result is that people are becoming increasingly skeptical about Web content. A major Forrester Research survey in 2000 found that 75 percent of respondents believed content on the Web was of a poor quality.

Essential steps in the editing process involve ensuring the quality of the content; checking style and tone; checking for accuracy; checking for grammatical and spelling errors; and checking the metadata. Always check the text in a good word processing program with spell-checking and search features before it is transferred to HTML.

See also [editor]
See also [fact checking]
See also [metadata]


The editor has broad authority for the nature and quality of content. Editors should be empowered to commission content from writers (or to acquire it from third parties), and should have wide latitude in deciding basic questions of length, tone, and completeness. The editor determines whether a given piece of content must be rewritten, and must be able to rearrange and rewrite the content if needs be.

editorial board

A group of designated individuals that oversees and reviews the editorial policy of a website, usually within a large or complex organization. An editorial board should include representatives from all the organization’s key constituencies. A large corporation with an intranet, for instance, would at a minimum want an editorial board that included representatives from the company’s operating units, marketing, human resources, legal, and finance.

e.g., i.e., etc.

Don’t overuse abbreviations such as e.g., i.e., or etc. Use “for example,” “for instance,” “in other words,” “that is,” “and so on,” “and so forth” instead.

See also [et cetera]


Short for electronic government, making government and state-related information, services, and forms available online. Can extend to include online voting.


One word.

electronic wallet

Software for ecommerce payments containing customers’ billing and shipping details, and a digital encryption certificate. Also known as a digital wallet.

ellipsis (…)

An ellipsis (three dots) may be used to indicate either a pause in speaking or an omission of one or more words in a quoted passage. If something is left out between sentences, you have two options: use a period to complete the sentence and follow that with the ellipsis, making four dots altogether, or standardize on three dots whether the sentence is finished or not. Decide on your style and add it your style guide. There should be a space before and after the ellipsis.

“Sigh no more, ladies … men were deceivers ever.”

em dash (—)

See [dash]

One word, see also e.

email addresses

Email addresses are not case sensitive. Type all email addresses in lowercase for consistency and to help the reader.

email mailing list

An email mailing list is a system that allows you to create, manage, and control the flow of email-based content between a group of readers. Messages sent to the group can be read by all those who have subscribed to the mailing list. Mailing lists allow for the exploration of complex ideas over a period of time, and can become a channel for positive ideas for the organization in relation to improving its products and services.

The best way to explain the benefits of a mailing list is through an example. Let’s say you want to get a discussion going with regard to the future direction of a product. You could establish a mailing list, select a moderator, and invite contributions. People on the list would contribute their ideas by email. These emails would go to the moderator who would judge their quality. Depending on the publication schedule, the moderator would send out a digest of the best contributions. This digest would hopefully spark more ideas and more contributions. The mailing list gets a life of its own as product ideas and features are discussed and explored.

When running a mailing list, moderate if at all possible; send a welcome/confirmation email message to new subscribers; clearly state the mailing list’s aims; seed the list with interesting content that will provoke discussion; provide the email address for contributions as well as a contact address for technical questions; and give information on how to subscribe to and unsubscribe from the list.

See also [moderator]
See also [opt-in]
See also [double opt-in]

email marketing

Email marketing is a proven way of attracting and keeping customers, and is a perfect complement to a website in that a website is a pull medium (the consumer must actively decide to go to the website) whereas email is a push medium (the content is sent directly to the consumer).

A key issue to address in email marketing is that the consumer has agreed or “opted-in” to receive the email marketing communication. Otherwise the email is considered spam. Opting in requires the consumer’s consent. Double opt-in is becoming the convention.

Email marketing communications can be occasional or in the form of a regular email newsletter. The drawback with email marketing is that everybody is now doing it, and so many people are suffering from email overload, and are deleting all but the essential emails they receive. It is thus crucial that your email is of genuine relevance to the receiver.

See also [email newsletter]
See also [double opt-in]
See also [opt-in]
See also [spam]

email newsletter

An email newsletter (publication) is a collection of content, generally laid out in plain-text format, delivered to a subscriber base on a regular basis. Email newsletters are a highly effective and economic way of delivering content, establishing customer loyalty, and building your brand. They should be a priority of any website publication.

  • Establishing an email newsletter: Isolate a need within the target readership for the regular delivery of a specific type of content that matches organizational objectives. Agree the regularity of publication. How often will your reader want this content? Generally, once a week, or even once a month, tends to be good for email publications. Whatever the regularity, it is essential that you adhere to the publication schedule.

    Agree the length of the newsletter. Email publications should be short. If necessary, summarize content and put a link back to the full document on the website. Agree the minimum amount of information that needs to be gathered for a reader to subscribe. The longer the subscription form, the less likely it is that the reader will subscribe. Gather only the information that you really need.

    Make a clear distinction between editorial content and advertising. Always build your subscription base on an opt-in basis. Otherwise, you are spamming your readership. See subscription-based publishing, opt-in, double opt-in, spam.

  • General standards: Use plain text. The best font to use is a non-proportional font such as Courier because it will remain constant in different email packages. The line character length should be no more than 70 characters across, as a number of email management systems break up lines longer than that. Unless it’s an exceptional circumstance, never send an attachment as part of an email publication.

  • Subject line: In a news-oriented newsletter, the subject line should contain the title of the newsletter first, then the date. In an opinion piece newsletter, the subject line should contain the title of the newsletter first, then the title of the piece.

  • Using hypertext: Use hypertext liberally within your email publication with the objective of getting the reader to visit your website for further information. When creating a hyperlink/URL within an email publication, always use the full address (http://www.) as some email systems will not turn it into a link otherwise. When dealing with a long URL (over 65 characters) put angle brackets (< >) at the beginning and the end of the URL. Otherwise, it may get broken up by the email system and become unusable. When dealing with an email address, use the mailto: function in front of the email address. For example, mailto:tom@xyz.com.

  • Laying out advertising text: Advertising text should be clearly differentiated from the rest of the content by the use of a border above and below it (for example, “*************”). Try to keep advertisements short (maximum five lines) and make sure they have an email or URL included.

  • Laying out editorials: As you cannot use font size to differentiate the heading from the body of the text, it is useful to use “all caps” for the heading (for example, TECH STOCKS SLUMP). In general, it is better to identify the author of a particular article as this makes the reader more comfortable. Keep paragraphs short.

  • HTML email newsletters: There is a trend to create email newsletters in HTML format, which essentially allows what looks like a Webpage to be delivered by email. An HTML newsletter definitely delivers more impact and is more suitable for a consumer-driven sell, where you want readers to click a link in the newsletter and go to the website to buy something.

    However, some older email software programs do not support HTML. Also, HTML newsletters are larger in file size than plain text, and some readers may not want to take the time to download them. If you are distributing an HTML newsletter, offer a version in plain text as well.

  • Other necessary information: Insert a link to the publication on the Web. Describe the privacy policy in relation to how subscribers’ personal information will be used. Link to the full privacy policy on the website. Explain copyright issues relating to the publication. Give clear subscription and unsubscription details. Remind the subscriber to unsubscribe using the exact email address they subscribed with, as this is a common mistake (if possible, include this original email subscription information in the newsletter). Give an email contact for technical or other problems the subscriber may encounter. A telephone contact is also helpful.

email signature

An email signature is the text that appears at the bottom of every email someone sends, usually containing essential information on the sender and the organization they work for. Email signatures should be kept short, with a maximum of five lines of text. A long signature is particularly annoying when someone is contributing to an email mailing list, as they make the publication overly long.

Email signatures are a good way to promote the content on your website. Employees send a lot of emails every day and if a short promotion is put in each signature, it can deliver a lot of exposure. The promotion should always contain a URL and/or email address. (Remember to use the full URL including “http://” as partial URLs are not turned into clickable links by some email programs. Also, use a “mailto:” for email addresses.)

email to a friend

A viral marketing website facility that allows readers to interact with other readers by allowing them to easily email information to another person on a document they have just read.

See also [viral marketing]

email writing

Writing emails, like writing other content on the Web, is all about being brief and to the point. (There are billions of emails sent every day!) Treat the subject line as you would a heading for a document. It needs to be short, descriptive, and punchy. If it’s not, the reader may not bother opening the email.

While writing style is more casual with emails, particularly between co-workers, make a reasonable attempt to correct spelling mistakes and poor grammar. Some emails looks like a mangled car crash of words. As a rule, address the person you’re emailing and end the email with your name.

If something really annoys you, don’t rush off an email. Count to 10, at least. If you receive a long email, and your reply is “Yes,” don’t reply with all the original text you received. Cut it. Send emails when you have something valuable to say. Avoid using the “cc” function just for the sake of it—there’s enough email overload. Never write anything in an email that you’re not prepared to hear read out in a litigation court.


Business websites that reduce inefficiencies in markets by allowing buyers and suppliers to trade more efficiently.


From the words emotion and icon, and also known as a smiley, an emoticon is an icon composed of letters and symbols that reflects a human facial expression or emotion. For example:

:-) signifies happy

:-( signifies sad

An emoticon gives text more expression and personality. Emoticons are okay to use if you know someone well and it is a personal relationship. However, it is not advisable to use them in commercial communication.


See [special treatment of words]

The process of encoding data to prevent unauthorized access, especially during transmission. It requires a key for decoding.

en dash (–)

See [dash]
end user, end-user

Two words as a noun, hyphenated as an adjective. The person who uses a computer or computer application in its finished, marketable form.

error messages

You need to create error messages for times when the website is having technical difficulties or the reader has incorrectly filled in a form or made a wrong selection. When developing error messages, make sure the displayed error is written in a friendly tone in plain English, and not some technical mumbo jumbo. Make sure it’s specific—if the reader has filled out a 30-field form, don’t just tell them that they haven’t filled out the form correctly, inform them of the exact section in which they made an error. For example, the message should not say: “Some fields in your form were not filled out correctly.” Rather, it should say: “It seems that your email address has not been entered correctly.”


Online retailer of consumer goods or services.

et cetera, etc.

Formal writing discourages the use of et cetera and its abbreviation etc. Although the Web tends to be less formal than traditional publishing, you should still avoid overusing this as it can often simply look lazy. The abbreviated form, etc., should always take a period and both forms should be preceded by a comma.

They played football, tennis, squash, etc.

It is also followed by a comma, unless it is the final element in a series, in which case the inclusion of the comma is dependent on what grammar dictates, or if it appears at the end of a sentence:

The man’s hat, coat, bag, etc. were filthy.

The man’s hat, coat, bag, etc., not to mention his hands, were filthy.


This is the most widely installed local area network (LAN). Ethernet was originally developed by Xerox in 1976 and then developed further by Xerox, DEC, and Intel.

European currency

See [foreign currencies]

1,152,921,504,606,846,976 bytes (1,024 petabytes).


See [file extension]

A password-protected website for a company’s customers, which is not available to the general public. Apply the same standards to an extranet as you apply to an Internet website. Remember, the most important reader of all is looking at the extranet—your customer!


Electronic magazine available on the Internet, usually free of charge.



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