Poll: Should We Write email or e-mail?

By Daniel Scocco

I am pretty sure that you already considered if you should be writing the abbreviation of electronic mail as email or e-mail (or as something else yet). The same confusion applies to the abbreviations of electronic commerce, electronic book and so on.

In reality there is no universal rule. If you read the Wikipedia entry for electronic mail, you will be able to grasp the depth of the problem:

Spelling of this term is disputed. Many now regard the word “email” as a perfectly valid and formal word in its own right, and regard the abbreviation “e-mail” as anachronistic. The word “email” is recognized as a valid English word in all major dictionaries however the e-mail abbreviation is often still used. Despite the word “email” being used in common English the computer industry and web sites still use multiple variants of the term.

Most manuals of style recommend the usage of e-mail. The majority of companies also follow that recommendation (e.g., CNN, BBC, The New York Times, Microsoft).

Other companies (e.g., Google, Yahoo! and Apple), however, prefer to use the non-hyphened version email. Throughout the Internet the use of email seems to prevail as well. A quick search on Google for the term email reveals over 5 billion results, while the term e-mail is found only 500 million times or so.

The question then becomes: which form is correct? Have your say in our poll!

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28 Responses to “Poll: Should We Write email or e-mail?”

  • Kristi Holl

    Generally I’m a stickler for correctness, but for the sake of typing speed, I’d love to see the shortened forms (email, ebook, ecard, etc.) accepted as correct.

  • Robert Hruzek

    I’m for shortening them to eliminate the hyphens, too. Makes typing much quicker and easier to remember.

    But where’s the poll? And is that an e-poll, or an epoll? 😀

  • –Deb

    I prefer the hyphenated version (probably because I’ve been told that it’s “correct”) and yet . . . I almost always type it without the hyphen and then force myself to go back to add it in. Which, really, says a lot about where my heart is on this issue!

  • Bill Womack

    E-mail feels non-committal to me, almost as if the e and the mail were dating, but wanted to keep the hyphen as a buffer until they were sure the relationship was going to work out. More than a dozen years later, the bond looks solid. I say let them toss aside that short line and hook up. That poor e has been held at arm’s length for too long now.

    There’s also some digit Darwinism at play. As others have pointed out, typing email is a lot faster than e-mail, and with less reaching involved.

  • Shelby

    I just got done creating a style guide at work to standardize our documents. This is an issue that we discussed during the creation process. We decided to go with the hyphenated version. If people need to find something that we did not include in our limited company style guide, they will go to a more comprehensive style guide to look it up. All of the more comprehensive guides say to use the hyphenated version. How can we tell them to use and trust our company style guide, which is based on the larger guides, if we don’t follow the rules of the larger guides ourselves?

  • Daniel Scocco

    The poll is in the form of JavaScript, you need to have it enabled to see it.

  • klgrant

    From my understanding of how compound words are made, they initially start as two words (electronic mail), then are hyphenated (e-mail–in this case, it is also abbreviated), then the words are combined to form a compound word (email). In the past, this process has taken years. For instance world wide > world-wide > worldwide. However, in our fast-paced, Internet-enabled world, why not just cut to the chase, and use the compound form–especially for a word, like email, that isn’t going to go away any time soon.

  • Deborah

    Either is permissible, but my husband worked for an ISP for five years and they always used “email.”

    Additionally, the industry standard is to capitalize Internet, and to capitalize ISP (internet service provider).

    Husband writes/controls six blogs, and guest hosts/writes at several more. They all use “email.”

    Ours is a mobile and fluid language, and this is not a hill to die on.

  • Daniel Scocco

    Well Internet should always be capitalized because it refers to a specific network and not to a general one.

    Many people forget that indeed, I plan to cover it on a future article.

  • Suzanne

    While both forms are probably acceptable, “email” is a tad easier to type, so that gets my vote.

  • Mark Brownlow

    I discussed this once with a German friend and he noted that email already existed as a word in German (it means enamel in that language), which is why most German speakers apparently favor e-mail.

  • Robert Hruzek

    Whoops! Forgot to tell NoScript to enable polldaddy! Who says my vote doesn’t count! 😀

  • Richard Rinyai

    It actually doesn’t make a difference, since when you are searching for either term, the search engine will ask you the correct form that they prefer and you will still get the same results.

    Thanks,

    Richard Rinyai

  • Marc

    I note that the extensive and highly respected style guide of the Guardian (UK newspaper) (available online at http://www.guardian.co.uk/styleguide) suggests email. For what it’s worth.

  • T. Page

    I think the hyphen can be dropped as the word as entered common usage. Hyphens should be used when introducing a new contraction or when the contraction would not ‘look right’ without it. Hence, email is acceptable though e-mail may still be used.

  • dorababu

    good

  • mohamed

    i need to know what should i do with this customer because i donot have any experience

  • Trevor

    I prefer “e-mail” because, although spelled out it’s “electronic mail,” the “e-” reminds you in the abbreviated form that the mail is electronic.

    The IRS uses “e-file” but the term used in the internet address for the e-file page is “efile.”

  • Steve

    e-mail – because I say so! – end of story.

  • Laura

    e’mail. Easier to type, has a classic look like other contractions have. That is what I use in my typing, before the proofreading.

  • Meg

    “Additionally, the industry standard is to capitalize Internet…”

    That depends. There’s two meanings of the word, one being AN internet (any interconnected network of networks), and another being THE Internet (the world’s largest internet, which is named the Internet just to confuse folks). Most of the time, people mean the latter, so it should definitely be capitalized.

    I like “email”.

  • cmdweb

    For me it’s about pronunciation. I think the hyphenated version denotes the ‘eemail’ pronunciation better.

  • Jodie

    From observation, this issue is reminiscent of the program vs programme debate…

    In the UK and Australia, the unhyphenated versions are used:
    email/ online

    Yet, from what I’ve noticed here in North America, they use:
    e-mail/ on-line

    Perhaps change takes longer to implement in larger populated regions and so the old hyphenated versions are still used here…?

  • SKP

    Hi !!! Sir/Mam,
    Why do we write ‘e’ For internet. Like ‘e-commerce’, ‘e-zone’, ‘e-bay’, ‘e-mail’ etc. plz rply
    Thank you..

  • Asrar

    @SKP: the “e” stand for electronic.

    On this comment form I have to put my “email” address, and I can be notified of replies via “e-mail”.

    I prefer email.

  • Stuart

    This is quite the topic, and I’ve tried to sum up the main arguments for “email” and “e-mail.”

    Those who prefer to type “email” have noted that:
    -It’s faster to type.
    -It’s becoming the more “cyber-savvy” term.

    Those who prefer to type “e-mail” have noted that:
    -The hyphen serves as a reminder of the word “electronic” when typing “e-mail.”
    -The hyphen indicates the correct pronunciation of “e-mail” (“eemail”) better than without.

    Other very sound views of the issue have been laid out for us, ranging from Wikipedia references to “because I say so!” Although I myself can type either version of the word at hand without problem, I have a few observations myself.

    Even though it is faster to type “email,” the time difference is probably in the range of 1 to .009 seconds (approximately :D). In the case that someone’s life or well-being is hinging on how fast that word can be typed, I hope that those who side with the “e-mail” version can have the adaptability to type “email”…if just that one time. Plus the people who type “email” will have about 34 extra seconds of free time banked up by the end of the year versus the people who type “e-mail” because of the time-consuming hyphen. So I suppose if you’re busy–and could use the half-minute vacation time–then go with “email.” But seriously, when you consider writing by hand or texting, the time difference is more salient.

    However, I can understand the point that was made regarding the “electronic” in “e-mail” that is underscored a little more with the hyphen. Because if the trend to shorten the word continues, we’ll just be saying “e” before you know it (lol). But for all the typists out there who are concerned with speed, what about non-letter keys? I mean, we’re pros at typing using the alphabet, but what about using the “]” key, or the “~” key? Personally, I want to sharpen my muscle memory for the hyphen key as well as the other non-letter keys, and what better way to practice that then using the hyphen in “e-mail?”

    To answer the question at hand, I do use the hyphen…when I’m not at gunpoint. Yet I can see myself shifting to the non-hyphen version if the overwhelming majority of people use “email,” because I sure hope I can be adaptable in this one area of my life. lol

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