Style guides, take II

Subject: Style guides, take II
From: "Geoff Hart (by way of \"Eric J. Ray\" <ejray -at- raycomm -dot- com>)" <ght -at- MTL -dot- FERIC -dot- CA>
Date: Sat, 12 Dec 1998 04:54:29 -0700

In the spirit of synchronicity, Don Bush (one of my favorite writers
on the topic of editing) had a few choice comments on the second
edition of the Microsoft style guide (The grammar of "Microspeak",
_Intercom_, Dec. 98, pages 36-37). Although he did not completely
dismiss the utility of this guide, he did have some rather pointed
comments that cast its merits into doubt, at least for me. I quote
(typos mine):

"Even more ominously, the the book distorts the very nature of
editing, changing it from a vocation of making authors accessible to
a low-skilled chore of zapping taboos."

"Why would anyone promoting 'consistency' publish a style guide
that does not agree with recognized authorities?" [Bush lists 8 of
these authorities, all of whose opinions I respect.]

"Ironically, excessive taboos can make technical writing worse.
While language cops are busy policing inconsequential violations,
they inevitably overlook major crimes against technical accuracy,
organisation, structure, and conciseness. The proof lies in the
Microsoft manual itself, which is stilted, wordy, disorganized,
ambiguous, and repetitious, and even violates its own rules."

Humph. I've always thought that "Microsoft style" was an oxymoron.
Here's some more evidence.
--Geoff Hart @8^{)}
geoff-h -at- mtl -dot- feric -dot- ca

"Patience comes to those who wait."--Anon.

From ??? -at- ??? Sun Jan 00 00:00:00 0000=

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