After Years of Writing It 'E-mail' ...


After years of hyphenating “e-mail,” Los Angeles Times recently changed its style to “email.”

For me, that is a hard pill to swallow. I’ve been editing in Los Angeles Times style for years. I used to work for the paper’s community news division, and now I do a lot of freelance work for its special advertising sections. So I’ve been changing “email” in writers’ articles to “e-mail” for what feels like an eternity.

Habit isn’t my only objection. Logic plays into it, too. Despite the public’s clear preference for “email,” it just doesn’t make as much sense.

“No initial-based term in the history of the English language has ever evolved to form a solid word—a few are split and the rest are hyphenated,” writes Washington Post Business Copy Desk chief Bill Walsh in “Lapsing Into a Comma.” Examples? Walsh has ’em: B-movie, C-rations, D-Day, G-string, H-bomb, I-beam, K car, L-shaped, N-word, O-ring, Q rating, T-shirt, U-boat, X-ray, and Z particle.

That’s a really good point. Here’s another: “At first glance, the e in email begs to be pronounced unaccented, as a schwa (“uh-MAIL”). Setting the letter apart makes it clear that the letter is a letter and the one-letter syllable is accented. E!”

I like this thinking. But the masses have spoken. My editors have spoken. “Email” has won.” And I must try to let go. It’s not going to be easy.


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