Re: Redundancy & obscurity patrol

Subject: Re: Redundancy & obscurity patrol
From: "Huber, Mike" <Mike -dot- Huber -at- SOFTWARE -dot- ROCKWELL -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 19 Jan 1996 09:25:31 -0500

I find the numbering of things to follow redundant, especially for small
numbers. Does it enhance the reader's knowledge of the system to
say:

* There are two ways to fraz the blorfle:
* 1 - Select the blorfle by using the cursor motion keys or the mouse,
* and then click the Fraz button.
* or
* 2 - Double-click on the blorfle.

as opposed to

* To fraz the blorfle:
* ...

In the first example, the number two is a fact that is of no use to the
reader, and which the reader can easily derive in the unlikely event
of somebody needing to know the number of ways to fraz a blorfle.
And it's a fact that may well become obsolete. I've inherited a number
of documents that had that kind of useless numbers, where the
number is no longer accurate. Somebody added a third way to fraz
a blorfle. Rather than correct the number, I usually rephrase the
text to skip the number altogether.

----------
From: Larry Kunz 919 254-6395[SMTP:ldkunz -at- vnet -dot- ibm -dot- com]
Sent: Wednesday, January 17, 1996 8:55 PM
To: Multiple recipients of list TEC
Subject: Re: Redundancy & obscurity patrol

Here's my contribution for the "Words and Phrases to Throw Away"
list: the word "there" at the beginning of sentence.

The presence of "there is" or "there are," especially, signals
a sentence that probably needs attention. For example,

bad better
--- ------
> There is a full moon tonight. > The moon is full tonight.
> There are two selections on > The menu has two selections.
the menu.
> There are three things you can do. > You can do three things.

There are times, of course, when I exercise my writerly prerogative
and ignore the rule. <g> But most of the time it works wonders.

(Credit where credit is due: I learned this one from Dr. Merrill
Whitburn, a professor in RPI's TechComm department. No, I didn't
study at RPI, but I was privileged to take a class from Dr. Whitburn
at my workplace. It made me a better writer!)

Larry Kunz
STC Assistant to the President for Professional Development
ldkunz -at- vnet -dot- ibm -dot- com


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