Re: forbidden to apostrophize (#118155)

Subject: Re: forbidden to apostrophize (#118155)
From: Bill Burns <wburns -at- MICRON -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 16 Jul 1996 09:11:28 MDT

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16-JUL-1996 08:24:38.93

Arlen adds his $0.02:

>I'd point out that the complete elimination of apostrophes is an
>accepted dogma of formal scholastic writing, but (bringing manuals from
>commercial products as evidence) that the trend in professional tech
>writing is away from such dry, formal writing.

I'm not sure if this trend ever included possessive apostrophe "s." I've never
crossed it in my experience with scholastic style guides. It may be a
convention that died before my time. Quite possibly, it may be more a
reflection of lazy writing practice (which, IMO, accounts for the dry, formal
tone). When I began revising my academic writing (after I had worked as a
technical writer for a year), I found my prose rife with prepositional phrases
that could easily have been replaced with possessive forms. (I'm happy to say
that I heeded the lesson well.) Since few of my professors were concerned with
maximum word counts (or even with finer stylistic points), I never received
feedback concerning that issue.

>A writer and editor have to trust one another. The editor
>obviously doesn't trust you. Taking the decision to your boss first fairly
>shouts that.

No kidding about that. When I have a problem with a writer's mastery of
convention, I take the time to educate the writer. I can't say I'm too fond
of the boss's approach to this either. It sounds like an issue that needs to be
resolved between two coworkers (or perhaps your boss expects this to be the

Bill Burns
Assembly Training and Documentation Supervisor

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