Re: Following

Subject: Re: Following
From: "NIVA Inc." <niva -at- MAGI -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 4 Oct 1996 15:52:37 -0400

John Bell writes:

>> One software guide I have uses this construction quite often.
>> "Following are description of the fields in the Positioning tab:" <snip>
>> It seems so awkward. <snip>
>> Is it a matter of preference or is "The following ...." better/worse than "Following..."?

The word "following" can be either a noun or an adjective. Presumably, "following" used alone is acting as a noun; however, in most intances, the writer clearly intends the adjectival use. Among my colleagues, I correct such use by reminding them that "Charlie Manson had a *following*, but this list is composed of the *following points*...."

In a nutshell, "following" as an adjective should never stand alone. The "following <things>" phrase should be immediately followed by the <things> under discussion. The "following <things>" phrase should be replaced by the alternative "<things> that follow" when the <things> under dicussion are distant from the "following" phrase.

Examples:

"... the Widget dialog contains the following fields:
<field list>"

"The fields that follow appear in the Widget dialog, the Thingummy dialog, and the Thingambob dialog:
<field list>"

Ann Fothergill-Brown
Senior Editor
NIVA Inc.
"Canada's Leading Technical Documentation Firm"
mail -at- niva -dot- com
http://www.niva.com


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