Numerals and Bullets -Reply

Subject: Numerals and Bullets -Reply
From: Bill Sullivan <bsullivan -at- SMTPLINK -dot- DELTECPOWER -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 5 Jan 1996 09:08:18 -0800

Dear Elizabeth: Before I answer your questions about numerals and
bullets, I would like to talk about my heartburn over your use of the
term "style rules." Rules sound very much like things that are passed
by Congress and signed by the President. I prefer to think of them as
style guides, or, if you insist, rules that were made to be broken.

You sound like you have checked chapter 8 of the Chicago Manual of
Style (14th ed.) or chapter 12 of the Government Printing Office
(GPO) Manual of Style. One trick in our work, I feel, is to
distinguish between technical and non-technical use.

Other than that, I have read your question about numerals at least
three or 4 times, and I am not sure what your problem is except that
a 1-cubic-inch tube or a 3-mile radius looks funny. Well, as the
football players say to each other, suck it up. It may hurt, but go
out and play anyway. You might get some comfort from reading good
engineering journals in the field covered by your engineers, or by
reading a well-edited journal such as Scientific American.

I think bullet point punctuation is totally subjective, and the basic
thing to stump for is consistency within your organization. I happen
to like the free look of no punctuation following list items or
incomplete sentences, and periods when sentences are used. How do
you punctuate your shopping lists or your chore lists at home? How
much do you need?

A more important thing for a tech writer on an edit pass to look for
in bullet items, IMO, is: If the bullet item is a clause, do its
subject (if applicable) and predicate flow properly from the subject
and predicate of the introductory sentence? Especially if a
non-writer wrote the list, does the last item really belong there or
should it be the start of a new paragraph?

Bill Sullivan
bsullivan -at- deltecpower -dot- com

>>> Elizabeth Carmack <ecarmack -at- SMTPGATE -dot- TNRCC -dot- STATE -dot- TX -dot- US> - 1/5/96
5:49 AM >>>
Greetings Folks: I have a question about the use of numerals. I
understand that style rules say spell out whole numbers between zero
and nine and use numerals for 10 and above. But what if the number is
linked to a particular measurement, like miles, cubic inches, etc.?
Some style guides say always use numerals for certain specific
measurements, others don't address it. I think writing "a
1-cubic-inch tube" or "a 3-mile-radius" looks funny. What is the
consensus out there?

And a question on bullets: When using a bulleted list, is it proper
to capitalize the first letter of the first word in each item even if
they are not complete sentences? And what about punctuation? I say
semicolons to separate them if they are complete sentences and commas
if they are not. Thanks for your comments.

Elizabeth Carmack
Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission
Austin, Texas ecarmack -at- smtpgate -dot- tnrcc -dot- state -dot- tx -dot- us
(512) 239-1652

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