Robert’s question: “We are having a debate in our office as to whether it is acceptable to use ‘r’ for ‘are’ and other similar shortcuts when sending emails internally.”
BizWritingTip response: Emails are a standard form of business communication, and they should be treated the same as any business document. People expect to read them the same way as they would read the morning newspaper.
The letter “r” for “are,” and other short cuts such as BTW for by the way, are considered text messaging short hand. Please don’t use this shorthand in a business email – even though it is to a colleague. It is considered disrespectful. Save your text shorthand for chat rooms, text messages, and instant messaging.
I often compare writing styles to clothing. When you write a lengthy report, you are in formal attire – a tuxedo or ball gown. When you write a letter or short report, you are wearing standard business attire. Emails are dress down Fridays – but no jeans. Think golf attire. Instant and text messaging are your bathing suits.
All forms of writing and dress are appropriate at the proper place and time. Just as you would never wear a tuxedo to a pool party, you would never wear a bathing suit to the golf course.