E-mail vs. Email

 In the war between “e-mail” and “email,” I chose sides long ago. Well, it’s more like I was conscripted. The “Associated Press Stylebook,” which I must follow in a lot of my editing work, has long advocated the hyphenated version as its official style: “e-mail.”

 Proponents of “email” argue that their choice follows the natural order of things. Compounds smush together over time, as “healthcare” and “cellphone” seem to be doing. But Washington Post business desk copy chief Bill Walsh makes an interesting point: The smushed versions always result from two whole words, not a word with an initial. So X-ray, T-shirt, A-frame, and D-Day never became Xray, Tshirt, Aframe, or Dday.

 “Setting the letter apart makes it clear that the letter is a letter and that the one-letter syllable is accented. E! E! Eeeee!,” Walsh writes in his book “Lapsing Into a Comma.” The alternative, “email,” suggests the pronunciation “uhmail,” just as a one-word “aframe” would take the oomph out of that first A.

 My reasons for preferring “e-mail” are less scholarly. That’s what I was first taught was correct. And first-learned methods hold powerful sway over us.

But "e-mail" is losing ground in my world. The big nail in its coffin: a change in the official Los Angeles Times style from "e-mail" to "email." This is the style I edit in most. A magazine I do editing for also has "email" as its style.

So "email" is now the official form in most of my work. But that doesn't mean I have to like it.

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3 Responses to “E-mail vs. Email”

  1. I'm coming to you for this because your my most trusted (and favorite) grammar authority. I just received my certificate for rhetoric and professional writing after many years of taking classes. Next stop is my associates degree. To save time and money, I'm planning to take the CLEP for analyzing and interpreting literature. One of the study guides I'm using tells me that the terminating punctuation mark can go outside the quotation marks when the quoted word or words is either an article title or something being used to make a word stand out as being ironic or sarcastic. This has always made sense to me, but after reading so many things that say the terminating punctuation "always" goes inside the quotation marks in American English, I am in the habit now of making no exceptions to that rule. What's correct here? Thank you!

  2. "You're"--I can't believe I did that.

  3. Punctuation rules for American English are indeed "always" put the period or comma before the closing quote mark. British style is as you described (that is, it follows a certain logic). But American rules are rooted in a printing convention that originated from aesthetics concerns. I'm quite confident that this American convention will go the way of the dinosaur. Wikipedia is proof: Their style is situational in the way you described. But for now, it's the rule: The comma always goes "inside," as does a "period."