Re: Using the conjunction OR in mutually exclusive options

Subject: Re: Using the conjunction OR in mutually exclusive options
From: Lauren <lauren -at- writeco -dot- net>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Thu, 08 Sep 2011 17:22:19 -0700

I had one contract where the current lead technical writer said that the company discussed this rule for two full days. They wound up with a style guide rule that the conjunction "or" in this case *must* be used as a list separator between two enumerated items, offset with bold and with hyphens. I think "or" must also be capitalized. An example in their style follows that includes their usage of colons and what I can remember of the tab. The use of asterisks is for bold. Their rule may have required lowercase, but there was a discussion about whether the conjunction required upper- or lowercase.

When there are two ways to perform a process:

1. Pick one option and use only that option.

*- OR -*

2. List each option and separate the each option with "*- OR -*."

<Help me.>

I would not choose to enumerate the list and I prefer to state in advance how many ways there are to complete a given process and then follow that with a bulleted list of options.

Lauren



On 9/8/2011 12:48 PM, Donna McManus wrote:

All, I'm just gathering opinion. Feel free to opine away.

I am seeing the use of the conjunction OR in mutually exclusive options in
procedures. This is even given as an example in Microsoft's Manual of Style
(if you have the 3rd version, see p123):

To open a menu:
- Press Alt+the key for the underlined letter in the menu name
-or-
- Use the LEFT ARROW key or the RIGHT ARROW key to move to another menu

I'm more of the mind to write the procedure as:

Use one of two methods to open a menu:
- Press Alt+the key for the underlined letter in the menu name
- Use the LEFT ARROW key or the RIGHT ARROW key to move to another menu

What is your opinion? I can't quite put my finger on it, but it bugs me to
no end to have to be so explicit that we have to emphasize that two options
are mutually exclusive. Is this more for translation purposes that Microsoft
would recommend this?


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References:
Using the conjunction OR in mutually exclusive options: From: Donna McManus

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