Re: Introducing bulleted lists

Subject: Re: Introducing bulleted lists
From: Lisa Higgins <lisarea -at- DRUAK -dot- DR -dot- LUCENT -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 15 Aug 1997 09:55:47 +0000

So then, Peggy Schillinger is all like:

> Lauren Gotlieb wrote:
> > "You use blah-blah to:
> > *
> > *
> > *..."
> > Is this incorrect?

> 1. You have broken an infinitive verb in half. The "to" needs to be next
> to the verb as in "to display" or "to execute." In your example, "to" is
> not a preposition; it is part of a verb.

The split infinitive rule is my favorite example of pointless usage
dictates. The reason it's verboten to split an infinitive is that in
Latin, the infinitive is a single word and cannot be split. Of
course, Latin grammar has little realistic portability to the English

While it's true that certain usage "errors" might stand out and
interrupt some users' train of thought, so might hypercorrect usage,
if it's done awkwardly.

In approaching issues like this, I try to keep two things in mind:

1. Common sense. Is my wording unambiguous and accessible to the
user? Does it require them to stop reading and parse? Is it strange
or awkward, calling attention to the words rather than the meaning
behind them?

2. Is it a big deal? It seems to me that, all too often, we tech
writers end up mired in details that our users, for the most part,
will never notice. It's good and admirable to create a document
that's clean, accurate, concise, and consistent; but the return on a
several hour investment into a punctuation mark or somesuch is
unlikely to be worthwhile.

> 2. You don't need any punctuation between the first part of a sentence
> and the second part. When each list item completes the sentence, a colon
> is incorrect.

I stood by this guideline for quite a while myself, but I, for one,
would like to see a special dispensation for bulleted lists.

lhiggins -at- lucent -dot- com

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