RE: And Or

Subject: RE: And Or
From: "Al Geist" <al -dot- geist -at- geistassociates -dot- com>
To: <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 19 Jun 2007 08:49:59 -0400

Ben wrote:

...using the phrase "and/or" to mean the inclusion of all or any combination
of items, including only one item in a given list just doesn't seem right to
me-though I see it everywhere....

Theodore Bernstein in "The Careful Writer" wrote "...this combination is a
visual and mental monstrosity that should be avoided..." Strunk and White
state that and/or " a device, or shortcut, that damages a sentence and
often leads to confusion or ambiguity."

You see "and/or" a lot in government, military, and legal writing, but that
doesn't make it good writing. In many cases, "and/or" is used because the
original author learned to use the combination from previous mentors who
were to lazy to write a clear sentence, or didn't know how to write clearly.
(I worked with a number of government proposal writers who were retired
military and everything they generated was infected with acronyms and
"and/or." This is not a slam on the military, but an observation of writers
trained by the military.)

Every time I see this convention, I rewrite the sentence. After all, isn't
clarity our business?

Al Geist
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And Or: From: Ben

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