Re: I solicit your HELP ----- THANKS FOR THE RESPONSES

Subject: Re: I solicit your HELP ----- THANKS FOR THE RESPONSES
From: "Parker, Cassandra M. (EXCH)" <CMPARKER -at- INTERMEDIA -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 15 Apr 1998 12:16:00 -0400

THANKS to everyone who responded to the above request. I have the
answer I was looking for.

Here are the replies and guess what, you are all in line with each
other. It's so good to ask the pros (smile).


# 1.
Wherever I've worked, the appropriate usage is to not use etc.
Use "and so forth" or "and so on" instead.

Much of the time, you don't even have
to use those, depending on the sentence construction. For example:
"Iguanas come in many colors including green, blue, red, and so forth."

Since these colors are "included," that already implies that there are
more colors, so the "and so forth" isn't needed:
"Iguanas come in many colors including green, blue, and red."

# 2.
Hi Cassie,

Here's what I do with that pesky little abbreviation:

a) When it is in the middle of a sentence, paragraph, line, etc., I
place a
comma after it.

b) Do you hate small animals such as ferrets, cavies, iguanas, etc.?

c) I happen to like small animals (ferrets, cavies, iguanas, etc.).

The period is pretty well glued onto the "etc" part so it's not treated
a piece of punctuation. Although my well-worn copy of "Write Right!"
says to
rewrite to avoid the use of etc.!

I agree with Scott. We try to avoid using "etc". Instead we use phrases
like "including" or "such as" or "for example".

As a rule in my doc dep't "etc" "ie" and "eg" are never used in


My experience matches Scott Miller's: Use "and so forth" or "and so on"
if you must use anything.

That aside, here are the answers to the grammatical questions you asked:

a) In the middle of a clause, set off _etc._ with commas fore and aft:
"The parts of a window sash, such as the stiles, mullions, muntins,
etc., are available as stock moldings."

b) At the end of a sentence, use a single point, not two points:
make the arrangements for the flowers, favors, photographer, etc."

But I would include the point preceding a question mark or exclamation
point (from a rhetorical perspective, I cannot imaging using _etc._ as
the last word of an exclamation, though): "Why don't you take care of
the flowers, favors, etc.?"

c) If the parenthetical expression is within a sentence, it ends "...,
etc.)." This is awkward, though; and it is generally possible to recast
the paragraph so the parenthetical expression is a sentence complete in
itself and follows the end of the preceding sentence.

d) Finally (regarding a question you did not ask) recall that it stands
for the Latin phrase "et cetera"; it is always incorrect to write "and

Hope this helps,

# 6.
Cassie--I prefer not to use it (etc.) at all. Instead, I write ...and so
forth. Works in every case and eliminates the hassles you allude to re:
abbreviations and punctuation.

Dear Cassandra Parker,

The best way to use the word etc. is to NEVER use it. Engineers use it
all the time because their writing skills are typically not as strong as
a senior tech writer's skills and use it solely because they don't know
how else to make a specific point. Please don't fall into this trap.
It's weak writing and a worthless word in most technical documentation.
Let the academicians use it in their doctoral theses. Technical writers
have to write for the real world.

This recommendation is found primarily in the Associated Press
stylebook, which has worked for me for the 17 years I've been a
technical writer. Additionally, MIL-STD-38784, the bible for mil-spec
type documentation, also frowns on that particular word, as I recall. I
don't know what the Chicago Manual of Style says, nor do I care. The
objective is to tell the reader what to do and how to do it and not to
get the reader lost in following written instructions.

Rather than saying "computers, printers, scanners, etc.", remember that
printers and scanners are computer peripherals. More specifically,
printers are output devices and scanners and digital cameras are input
devices. It's often better to describe such devices by the type of
devices in a given class.

Since etc. (&tc, &c, etc.) is an abbreviation, treat it as an
abbreviation, i.e. within sentence followed by comma, then '....
etc., ....' When at the end of a query ... etc.? When within a paren
at a sentence end ... (etc.).

Ask yourself: ''Self, how would you handle any
other abb.?''

'Course you could skip the whole issue with etceteria
or et al or even 'all that jazz.' I prefer '... and the other stuff.'

When I'm that confused, I rewrite it: printers, scanners, and
other peripherals. Or (in the middle of a sentence) ...including blah,
blah, and blah....(thus avoiding etc. altogether)

From _Elements of Technical Writing_, Blake and Bly:

_Etc._ is fine when used in a sentence in which the reader can predict
meaning: "Let's discuss even numbers, like 2, 4, 6, etc." Often though,
is a lazy way out of a thought (e.g., "Go to the laboratory and get me a
bunsen burner, flask, etc.").

I agree.

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