The Case for Contractions

From memos and emails to reports, websites and blogs, you should use contractions in all your business communications. If you're not doing so already, you should start changing that today.


Modern life and work environments are far more casual than they were just a decade ago. Speech is more casual, attire is more casual, and working relationships are less formal. Online and digital communications are also significantly more casual and interactive than the paper-based communications of the past.

Contractions, which use an apostrophe as a stand-in for missing letters, are perfectly suited to today's fast-paced exchanges, and the constant and nearly insatiable demand for fresh, current content. They:
  • Parallel the way we speak 
  • Enhance readability
  • Look and sound contemporary and current
  • Prevent documents from sounding ponderous
  • Help readers more quickly process content
  • Save time and key strokes
  • Reduce word counts 
  • Conserve space

At Crossbridge, we use them in every situation ranging from proposals and agreements to annual reports, articles, brochures, business plans, case studies, Powerpoint presentations, results reports, strategic plans, website copy and more.

Contractions read so naturally, most clients and readers don't consciously notice them. If a client specifically asks us to avoid them, we'll do so, but this is so rare, it's only come up three times in the past 10 years. 

In one instance, a client was concerned because the goal was to create a funding proposal to submit to a top-tier regional agency with a review board of C-suite executives. Initially concerned contractions would be perceived as unprofessional, the client trusted my recommendation, and we created a concise, targeted proposal with contractions intact. The board reviewed and instantly approved the proposal, remarking that it was one of the finest documents of its kind.

If you work in an extremely formal environment, contractions might be unsuitable in some situations (a formal annual report), but acceptable in others (internal reports). If your organization has established guidelines, follow them. If not, use your judgment and test the waters to see how others respond.

Times change, which means writing practices change, too. Not so very long ago, up to 80% of business reports were written without contractions, but today, the opposite is true. More than 80% now routinely include them, which in my view is just as it should be.

For more writing tips, see:
The Great Comma Controversy
The Humble Hyphen
Pesky Periods & Parentheses

Respect the Semicolon

Do Writing Skills Still Matter?

1 comment:

TecCrowd said...

I have read your article. Thank you so much for writing this awesome article. Your blog is really helpful. I love your blog.

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...