Re: Periods After Whole Numbers etc.

Subject: Re: Periods After Whole Numbers etc.
From: Joanna Sheldon <cjs10 -at- CORNELL -dot- EDU>
Date: Fri, 20 Sep 1996 05:52:14 -0400

Frederic

>> The original purpose of the rigid IF...THEN construction is
>> to ensure that even a machine can understand it. But we human readers
>> react badly to writing that is mechanical and never varies, especially
>> if there's a lot of it.

>Ian, I'm afraid you're indulging into a "literary" vision of technical
>writing : we're not writing poetry, but efficience.
>A technical document must be thought of not as a "work of art", but as a
>"device" which enacts the reader to perform an action. Thus the goal is not
>to please the reader, but to have the lowest "error rate" when (s)he
>performs the action.

Ian is not indulging in any such thing. Insisting on placing "then" in
every clause starting with "if" is no help at all to the reader; it is
simply irritating. (The reader, if s/he is not to be pleased, should at
least not be annoyed.) For that reason, and because it adds unnecessary
characters to the line, the practice should be avoided whenever possible.

Joanna


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