Meaning of the slash (/) mark

Subject: Meaning of the slash (/) mark
From: "C" <cll01821 -at- lycos -dot- com>
To: <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 06 Sep 2006 15:23:58 -0400 (EDT)

We had a discussion at work about the meaning of the slash (/) mark. In my
25-year career as a technical writer, I have always understood the slash
mark to mean "or", as in "Select OK/Yes".

However, a developer here included options in the interface where the
administrator chooses a combination of protocols from a list. For example,
the administration can choose the "LDAP/MAPI" combination. When reviewing
the administrator's guide, I assumed that "LDAP/MAPI" meant "LDAP or MAPI"
and asked the tech writer to clarify it for me. She told me that it means
"LDAP and MAPI", which was a surprise to me. I didn't know that the slash
could mean "or" and "and".

Searching for usage information brought some interesting information to
light, including the fact that usage of the slash often lends itself to
ambiguity. It appears that the "or" meaning is common in instructional
documentation, but the "and" meaning is common in many other places where
the writer simply wants to connect two items through the slash mark.

So, fellow techwhirlers, what is your understanding of the best practices
for using the slash mark? I typically try to avoid using it at all, and when
I do use it, it means "or".


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