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Can I use "verbally" to refer to textual communication? For example, can I say "Verbally encourage this behavior" meaning "Encourage this behavior in writing"?

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Good question! As @Henry says, you can't really use either of the obvious candidates verbally or literally. Effectively, we don't have an easy way to express this in writing apart from using "in writing" itself. –  FumbleFingers Sep 23 '11 at 14:32

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up vote 6 down vote accepted

It would be unwise.

I suspect most people might understand verbally to mean orally, while those with a more classical education might understand verbally to mean with words from the Latin verbum as opposed to drawing pictures or giving a hug.

So if you mean "in writing", then use that phrase to avoid misunderstanding; literally may also be misunderstood.

This may contrast with other languages. For example in French law, a procès-verbal is a detailed written document.

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