For instance, a train sign might say South bound trains this platform rather than Use this platform to take a Southbound train.

There is an interesting lack of articles and sometimes verbs, is there a name for this style (or a reason for it)?


From Wikipedia--

Telegram style, telegraph style, telegraphic style or telegraphese describes a clipped way of writing that attempts to abbreviate words and pack as much information into the smallest possible number of words and/or characters.

It originated in the telegraph age when telecommunication consisted only of short messages transmitted by hand over the telegraph wire. The telegraph companies charged for their service by the number of words in a message, with a maximum of 15 characters per word for a plain-language telegram, and 10 per word for one written in code. The style developed to minimize costs but still convey the message clearly and unambiguously.

Of the four names mentioned, telegraphic style is the version that I'm familiar with.

| improve this answer | |
  • 1
    Aha! Thank you. The wikipedia article was a very interesting read too. – Matt Jun 9 '15 at 6:01
  • As terse as they are, telegraphs are far more verbose than signs. Signs have little need to establish context. – TRomano Jun 9 '15 at 13:55
  • @TimRomano The description in the wikipedia article is appropriate for both. It's just that "the smallest possible number of words" for a sign is smaller than for a typical telegram, because of what you say. – Barmar Jun 15 '15 at 19:22

It is also the style of headlines in newspapers, where the topic is reduced to the shortest possible form.

| improve this answer | |
  • Headlines are rather more verbose than signs. – TRomano Jun 9 '15 at 13:52
  • @TimRomano that depends heavily on the publication (as well as the style of sign) – Chris H Jun 15 '15 at 20:22
  • The neologism is 'headlinese'. – Edwin Ashworth Dec 12 '19 at 14:49

In software development this concept is called terseness or Verbose vs Terse. https://wikidiff.com/verbose/terse

| improve this answer | |
  • Maybe, I dunno. But the general meanings of terse and verbose do not mean removing little words like of and the. It means being succinct. Whereas telegraphy style means you remove words. – Lambie May 12 '18 at 22:49

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.