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Peggy Lucero wondered: << I've been reading the Read Me First! style
guide and find in Appendix C their 7-page rendition of "terms that you
*should not use* in technical documentation and terms that you should
avoid" Appendix C is entitled: "Correct Usage of Terms" Just
wondering, is this the 'most respected' list on this topic?>>
Sun's guide is certainly more respected than Microsoft's style guide,
but the terminology may not always overlap. The key thing to remember
with either book is that style guides are _guides_, not _rule_ books.
They provide recommendations on what has been found to work well under
certain circumstances, and the good ones make no claims to be
exhaustive references or to be universally applicable.
As in all other reference material, ask yourself two hard questions:
"Why did they say to do or not do something? Is that reasoning relevant
in my current circumstances?" If you don't understand a guideline,
don't apply it blindly; ask (here, for example) why a guideline has
been proposed. If the guideline isn't relevant to your situation, or
you disagree (based on a good authority) with a recommendation, feel
free to ignore it.
<<Alternatively, is there one that is more, well, accepted and
established, and considered the definitive word on the topic (or am I a
You're a dreamer <g>, but the answer to your question is as follows:
For general English, any good, current descriptive (rather than
prescriptive) dictionary is your best choice for word usage. Not only
are they more comprehensive than any style guide can hope to be, they
also describe "English as she is spoke" rather than "English as we
editors would like to see her spoke". <g> That's important, since these
dictionaries tell you how a general audience will understand certain
words. For specific technical subjects, refer to a subject-specific
dictionary instead (e.g., Dorland's for medical stuff).
The American Heritage Unabridged is a reliable source for American
English; I also like Random House Unabridged (though I'm using an
ancient version), and Webster's Third International. MacQuarrie seems
to be the Australian choice. Not sure about the preferrred dictionaries
for U.K. British and (ironically, given that I'm Canadian) Canadian.
The Oxford English Dictionary is a word lover's dream, but not a good
source for current usage. (Haven't checked whether there's a more
current online version.)
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