Re: Using the conjunction OR in mutually exclusive options

Subject: Re: Using the conjunction OR in mutually exclusive options
From: Donna McManus <donna -dot- mcmanus -at- gmail -dot- com>
To: Lauren <lauren -at- writeco -dot- net>
Date: Thu, 8 Sep 2011 21:13:23 -0400

This is the kind of sticky wicket logic that I strive hard to avoid. Perhaps
I ought to take the zen approach on this and just accept it, but I just
can't.

Using the or conjunction indicates that these are not sequential. It is a
decision point. If you do A, then something follows. If you do B, then
something else follows.

Using mutually exclusive choices means making either choice leads you down
the same path. So perhaps I'm being thick headed or simple minded.

I've seen/worked with style guides that state similar as well, and I want to
bang my head. We don't have a style guide per se. I'm in an environment now
where it's all in one person's head. And hopefully that won't lead to style
guides based simply on personal preferences--either mine or someone else's.
But on this issue, I think my difficulty lies in three ideas that came to
mind immediately when reading Mark's post.

1) it assumes the reader is not very bright and can't distinguish between a
pair of choices that will give him the same result
2) it's a waste of breath (or words)
3) when OS changes come along or software is upgraded, both choices have to
be re-validated (which leads to insanity when you have tons of docs that use
this approach)

When I think about it, at least in the audience that I'm writing to, they
don't want to waste time thinking about which fork in the road to take.
They're on a production line. Give them the clearest, shortest, easiest path
to the goal: make the mark on the part. Besides, I don't want my job
security to come from having to update more text than necessary. I want my
job security to come from the fact I can produce clean, understandable,
appropriate text and be more creative.

Ugh is right.

On Thu, Sep 8, 2011 at 8:22 PM, Lauren <lauren -at- writeco -dot- net> wrote:

> 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?
>>
>
>
> ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^**^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
>
> Create and publish documentation through multiple channels with
> Doc-To-Help.
> Choose your authoring formats and get any output you may need. Try
> Doc-To-Help, now with MS SharePoint integration, free for 30-days.
> http://www.doctohelp.com
>
> ---
> You are currently subscribed to TECHWR-L as donna -dot- mcmanus -at- gmail -dot- com -dot-
>
> To unsubscribe send a blank email to
> techwr-l-unsubscribe -at- lists -dot- **techwr-l -dot- com<techwr-l-unsubscribe -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
> or visit http://lists.techwr-l.com/**mailman/options/techwr-l/**
> donna.mcmanus%40gmail.com<http://lists.techwr-l.com/mailman/options/techwr-l/donna.mcmanus%40gmail.com>
>
>
> To subscribe, send a blank email to techwr-l-join -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- **com<techwr-l-join -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
>
> Send administrative questions to admin -at- techwr-l -dot- com -dot- Visit
> http://www.techwr-l.com/ for more resources and info.
>
> Please move off-topic discussions to the Chat list, at:
> http://lists.techwr-l.com/**mailman/listinfo/techwr-l-chat<http://lists.techwr-l.com/mailman/listinfo/techwr-l-chat>
>
>
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Create and publish documentation through multiple channels with Doc-To-Help.
Choose your authoring formats and get any output you may need. Try
Doc-To-Help, now with MS SharePoint integration, free for 30-days.
http://www.doctohelp.com

---
You are currently subscribed to TECHWR-L as archive -at- web -dot- techwr-l -dot- com -dot-

To unsubscribe send a blank email to
techwr-l-unsubscribe -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
or visit http://lists.techwr-l.com/mailman/options/techwr-l/archive%40web.techwr-l.com


To subscribe, send a blank email to techwr-l-join -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com

Send administrative questions to admin -at- techwr-l -dot- com -dot- Visit
http://www.techwr-l.com/ for more resources and info.

Please move off-topic discussions to the Chat list, at:
http://lists.techwr-l.com/mailman/listinfo/techwr-l-chat


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

Previous by Author: Re: Using the conjunction OR in mutually exclusive options
Next by Author: Re: Using the conjunction OR in mutually exclusive options
Previous by Thread: Re: Using the conjunction OR in mutually exclusive options
Next by Thread: RE: Using the conjunction OR in mutually exclusive options


What this post helpful? Share it with friends and colleagues:

Sponsored Ads


Sponsored Ads