Tolerance in text?

Subject: Tolerance in text?
From: Geoff Hart <ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca>
To: TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>, "Links, Diederik" <D -dot- Links -at- hde -dot- nl>
Date: Tue, 21 Feb 2006 10:00:20 -0500

Diederik Links wonders: <<What is the best way to write a measure with tolerance - where both '+' and '-' are equal - in a text (or non-technical illustration)? I normally write: "Drill a hole with a diameter of 25 +/-0.2 mm." "Drill a hole with a diameter of 25 ±0.2 mm.">>

If I'm seeing the symbols correctly, there's nothing wrong with either approach; in fact, they seem to be identical on my computer, possibly because of a font encoding problem. (You're using a Dutch system, right?) You noted that:

<<Because the '±'-sign means 'approximately' (the hole can be 24 mm or 26 mm) and not 'plus or minus' (the hole must be between 24.8 mm and 25.2 mm).>>

I see the "plus or minus" sign on my computer, which does not mean approximately: it means that you should add or subtract the tolerance from the specified number.

If you mean approximately, it requires a different symbol than the one you typed. If I'm understanding this correctly, and your readers understand the concept of tolerance, this could be expressed most clearly as "a 25-mm-diameter hole (with a tolerance of 0.2 mm)". That means that the ideal hole is 25 mm in diameter, but that it could be 0.2 mm wider or narrower without causing any problems.

If that's correct, then "approximately" would be incorrect, and potentially dangerously so. If the hole must be 25 mm, then the hole cannot be 24 or 26 mm, since that would be a 1-mm tolerance.

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Geoff Hart ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca
(try geoffhart -at- mac -dot- com if you don't get a reply)
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Tolerance in text: From: Links, Diederik

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