Writing Style on Usenet

If your posts are hard to decipher, some people just won't even attempt to read them. Which means nobody will write back. So try these helpful hints!



Please don't "shout." No need to use ALL CAPS, as it's hard to read. (note: don't use all lowercase either, and try to use the correct grammar and punctuation.)

When posting a reply to someone else's message, it is wise to carefully check the "attributes" of any quoted text that your posting includes. In other words, be sure that what your posting says that what someone else said actually is what that person, not someone else, said in a previous posting. Quoting Style in Newsgroup Postings provides more detailed information on this subject.

Special note to users of Netscape Communicator and MicroSoft Internet News or Outlook Express: Please don't attach Vcards to your post or post in HTML. Many newsreaders are unable to properly interpret the code, making the message hard to read, so many people will just skip those messages. Also, some major ISPs are filtering out any posts which contain HTML, so your message will be poorly propagated. (Instructions for turning off HTML and Vcards are here.)

A special note for WebTV users: WebTV is much different from ordinary newsreaders. If you need some assistance in configuring your WebTV to avoid posting HTML and to quote some of the previous post in your response, first read the "Quoting Style in Newsgroup Postings" at the link above and then visit for hints specifically about configuring and using WebTV.

Please keep your lines less than 70 or 75 characters wide. If you don't, they tend to wrap around poorly and are hard to read. If you aren't sure how many characters 70 characters is, it's about 6 inches. Like so:


One, if your program allows it, set your linewrap for every 70 characters. This will allow your text to "hit return" for itself every 70 characters or so, so you don't have to do it.

Two, if your program allows it, use a monospaced font like Courier or System. With these fonts, spaces and W's and i's and l's all take up one unit of space. It's a lot easier to figure out when you've reached 70 characters if every line of 70 characters takes up the same amount of space.

Three, you might have to do it the old-fashioned way-- hit return at the end of each and every line. It's a pain, but it makes your posts a lot easier to read.

A final note: Please remember that some people don't speak the same languages as you do, and they may not speak your language as well as you do. So please try to write your questions so that they are clear and easy to read. And please don't use foul language here. People of all ages and all backgrounds read this newsgroup. You'll get a much better response if you speak politely than if you are rude to others.

For more information, please read:

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Last Updated: Monday, January 3, 2005

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