RE: within vs. in

Subject: RE: within vs. in
From: "Lauren" <lauren -at- writeco -dot- net>
To: <Gause_Brian -at- emc -dot- com>, <Janice -dot- Gelb -at- Sun -dot- COM>, <Tammy -dot- VanBoening -at- healthlanguage -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 17 Jan 2008 14:45:19 -0800

> From: Gause_Brian -at- emc -dot- com

> I agree with Janice. You are the writer. You have final say on words.

I thought the customer-project sponsor-document owner had final say in how
the documentation is presented. My experience is that writers can state
what they think is best, but the final product and its content is determined
by the product's owner who is not usually the writer when an SME is
involved.

If the OP is the owner of the document, then she would have final say on
words; otherwise, she does not. Although, support for an argument to use
"in" rather than "within" can help her make her case about the convention to
use.

Personally, I think that the choice of words depends on the context of the
usage of the words. An example was not provided by the OP to help make a
case one way or the other. I can easily think of cases where "within" is
not best represented by "in." Examples follow.

"Tasks 1-3 are *within* the project scope; however, tasks 4-7 fall *outside*
of the project scope."

"Within" and "inside" are essentially interchangeable, but they have
different connotations. "Inside" seems to refer to a physical relation to a
specific structure, whereas, "within" is a conceptual relation to a state or
area.

For example, "within the walls of a building," means "in the building."
Here, to say, "in the walls of the building" would have an entirely
different meaning than to say "within the walls of the building." Termites
can be in the walls, but not within the building. Saying, "within the
walls" has more drama than saying "in the building," so there is a possible
reason to choose one term over the other.

"Inside" and "outside" are direct opposites, just as "in" and "out" are
direct opposites.

We would not state that tasks are "out of the project scope," we state that
they are "outside the project scope." If we use "outside," then its
opposite is "inside," but "inside" is physical and "within" in conceptual,
so we should use "within" in reference to a task's status in a project
scope. Now here, we have a use for "in a project scope." "Tasks are
described as either 'within' or 'outside' in a project scope document."

My suggestion is to see what reads best and make a case for that term. If
the undesired term is requested by the customer, then rewrite the sentence
until the customer's term reads well. Arguing with the customer is rarely
good business.

Lauren


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References:
RE: within vs. in: From: Gause_Brian

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