Wording inquiry: characteristics?

Subject: Wording inquiry: characteristics?
From: "Hart, Geoff" <Geoff-H -at- MTL -dot- FERIC -dot- CA>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 13 Feb 2002 09:35:09 -0500

Johanne Cadorette wondered: <<Is it just me, or does the word
"characteristic" sound clumsy in the following sentence: "In the Default
tab, specify which characteristics must be assigned by default to entries
created by interface.">>

It's not wrong, but neither is it the best word; "attributes" would be
better. But the sentence as a whole is a bit clumsy; "specify the default
attributes of entries created by the interface" is a minimally invasive edit
that says much the same thing more elegantly. (If they "must be assigned",
they're defaults by definition, and thus, you don't need to say they must be

<<While "characteristic" is a correct translation for "caracteristique," I
don't think it's a term that's used as widely in English as in French. Or is

Not as widely used, but it's still common. Other words you might see are
"parameters", "settings", and "options" (for things that are optional).

<<What about "trait?">>

Much less common, though probably comprehensible to most readers.

--Geoff Hart, FERIC, Pointe-Claire, Quebec
geoff-h -at- mtl -dot- feric -dot- ca
"User's advocate" online monthly at

"When ideas fail, words come in very handy."--Goethe

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