Outlining Rules

Outlining is the systematic omission of vowels used in order to shorten words.


Only a single vowel may be omitted from between two consonants. A vowel at the beginning or end of a word may not be outlined.

Only the vowel a may be omitted from one-syllable words or from the first syllable of a word.

Examples:

  • cat ct
  • lake lke
  • taken tk5
  • nature ntu
  • The vowel 'a' must not be omitted from the first syllable if the surrounding letters comprise a common consonant cluster.

    Examples:

  • calm calm not clm
  • paltry palt" not plt"
  • balances bal.z not bl.z
  • The vowels a, e, i, o, and u may be omitted from other than the first syllable but 'y' must not be.

    Example:

  • system sy/m
  • rabbit r2t
  • plastic pl/c
  • Silent 'e' must never be outlined.

    Examples:

  • cakewalk ckewlk
  • racecar rcec>
  • tapeworm tpewrm
  • The medial sign Q, standing for 'qu', counts as a single consonant.

    Examples:

  • quake qke
  • liquid liqd
  • quantum qntm
  • A vowel may be outlined after an initial 'y', but not before a 'y'.

    Examples:

  • paperboy pp]boy
  • galley g_ey
  • yacht y*t
  • The consonants remaining after a vowel's omission must not be contracted.

    Examples:

  • satchel st*l
  • satin st9
  • cahoots ch^ts
  • Vowels should only be omitted if space is saved, and if the same amount of space would not be used by a regular contraction.

    Examples:

  • car c> not cr
  • had _h not hd
  • stay /@ not /y
  • If the same amount of space would be used outlining instead of a two-cell sign, preference is given to outlining.

    Examples:

  • making mk+ not ")g
  • mighty m<; not @<y
  • discovery 4cv}y not 4c_oy
  • Vowels should only be omitted if the meaning of the word is still clear.

    Examples:

  • enable 5a# not 5#
  • banister bni/} not bn/}
  • initial 9it,l not 9t,l
  • ornament orna;t not orn;t
  • The letter 'i' may be omitted before 'gh', even in the first syllable, as long as it is preceded by a consonant.

    Examples:

  • sigh s<
  • highlight h<l<t
  • eight ei<t
  • A vowel comprising an entire syllable on its own must not be outlined.

    Examples:

  • 'e' in 'skeleton', skel-e-ton, skeletn
  • 'u' in 'manufacture', man-u-fac-ture, mnufctu
  • 'o' in 'gasoline', gas-o-line, gsol9e
  • A vowel comprising the main stress of a word must not be outlined.

    Examples:

  • security secur; not secr;
  • enormous enorm| not enrm|
  • catastrophe cta/rphe not ct/rphe
  • Vowels from other syllables must not be outlined if the resulting letters are commonly pronounced together.

    Examples:

  • violet v,let not v,lt
  • iron iron not irn
  • oracle oracq not orcq
  • A vowel must not be outlined if the result would have multiple possible readings or if the result would be difficult to interpret.

    Examples:

  • plnt would be 'plant' not 'planet'
  • 9dct$ could be 'indicated' or 'indicted'
  • 'computer' should be -put} not -pt}
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