Re: The world's most frequently read instructions

Subject: Re: The world's most frequently read instructions
From: "Michael West" <mbwest -at- bigpond -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 1 Sep 2000 10:28:25 +1100

Peter wrote a few paragraphs, including:

> The point of this rant is to
> remind the group that while we may carry on about good grammar vs. bad
> grammar the purpose for technical writing is to effectively communicate
> information.

I suspect Peter's just had a run-in with an editor's red pen.

Sure, clear communication is the whole point. But that's what
conventions of grammar and punctuation are all about: clarity.

I don't know the author (was it Coleridge?) and I don't know the
exact quote, but the gist is: "Clear writing isn't writing so as to be
understood; it is writing so as to leave no possibility of being

Maybe we can't achieve it, but I think we should try for it.
Why leave careless punctuation and broken syntax and
ambiguous constructions lying around, if we can avoid it,
for our reader's to trip up on -- even if they'll eventually figure
out for themselves what we "probably" mean?

Michael West

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