30 March 2017

Writing style on Usenet

This article is based on material authored by members of the news.newusers.questions Moderation Board and nnq-workers mailing list.

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


Ahem… please do not ‘shout’. No need to use ALL CAPS, as it is hard to read.

Do not use all lowercase, either. Try to use correct grammar and punctuation.

Quote judiciously

When posting a reply to someone else’s message, carefully checking the ‘attributes’ of any quoted text that your posting includes is wise. 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.

Please keep your lines less than 70 or 75 characters wide

If you do not, they tend to wrap around poorly and are hard to read. In case you are unsure how much space 70 characters take up, it is about six inches:

  • If your program allows it, set your line wrap for every 70 characters. This will allow your text to ‘hit return’ for itself every 70 characters or so, so you do not have to do it.
  • 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. When every line of 70 characters takes up the same amount of space, it is a lot easier to figure out when you have reached 70 characters.
  • You might have to do it the old-fashioned way: hit return at the end of each line. It’s a pain, but it makes your posts a lot easier to read.

Please remember that many people do not speak the same languages you do

They also 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. Moreover, please do not use foul language. People of all ages and all backgrounds read newsgroups. You will get a much better response if you speak politely than if you are rude to others.