My Backlash Against the “Backslash”

A mistake I’ve heard recently on a number of radio AND TV spots is voiceover talents verbalize a web address using the word “back-slash.” That is incorrect! I wanted to pass along this tip so you can sound like a pro at some future VO session.

In English we read from left to right. So any kinds of symbols that lean from the top “towards” the direction we are reading would be considered to be moving “forward.” So why then, when people see this symbol “/” as part of a web address in their voiceover script, would they say the word “backslash??”

I did a little research before launching into this blog and I found many serious rants by a LOT of folks who really know the names of their keyboard symbols. They just cringe when they hear a forward slash spoken aloud as a “backslash.”

This symbol is a backslash “\” and it is used for Windows programming and in other technical applications. But the back-slash is one of several keyboard symbols that cannot ever be used in a web based URL address.

It is actually kind of hard to even find the “backslash” on a standard keyboard, hiding way off the right under the delete key. Whereas the more commonly used forward-slash is on the same key as the question mark, over to the right next to the shift-key. It is also found on the 10 key panel.

So when you’re in a VO session where you need to verbalize a web address you can be hero if there is any question on how to verbalize the forward-slash symbol. It is best to stick to the word “slash” because the listener will know that you mean the common forward-slash. Also, don’t let a director try to talk you into saying the word “back-slash.” Just gently explain the difference and how a “back-slash” can’t even be recognized in a web address. We don’t want to confuse the listener, which could result in costing his client a potential customer!!

This piece originally ran on the website