Re: there is vs. there's

Subject: Re: there is vs. there's
From: Michael West <WestM -at- conwag -dot- com>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com, zenizenc -at- gmail -dot- com
Date: Thu, 17 Apr 2008 16:47:56 +1000

Zen asks:

>>Is there a rule about using "there is/there's" in Technical Writing? or
it a standard followed based on preference.

There are probably as many 'rules' about the use of contractions as there
are style guides, so your question, Zen, strikes me as ill-phrased.

If you have no style guide, my advice is to base your decision not on
"preference" but on consideration for your readers. Many
readers--especially ESL readers--stumble over contractions. Writing
clearly and unambiguously is more important in technical writing than in
some other types. I consider clarity more important (by far) in
instructional writing than a "conversational" tone.

Some contractions are riskier than others. For example, writing "Don't"
is more likely to lead to errors than writing "Do not".

"There's" seems fairly innocuous by comparison, but still introduces an
opportunity for misunderstanding.


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