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Fred said: "He was afraid that a user would type *arrgh.* (including the
period) if we told the user to type "arrgh."instead of "arrgh". I think this
came from his background in programming, in which every bit of punctuation
means something. Not that it doesn't mean anything grammatically."
I've faced this one as well, and in general, when I'm providing instructions
to type something verbatim, to avoid just exactly this issue, I use a
typographical convention (change fonts, bold, something) instead of
quotation marks to indicate what should be typed.
We *DO*, though, have to remember that in code samples, it's necessary to
leave the punctuation alone -- no "fixing" where the commas are, no matter
I had it out with one of the programmers here a few weeks ago on exactly
this issue -- he had given me a spec where he had put the punctuation
outside of the quotation marks in both code and explanation -- and objected
to the idea that I would "correct" it because of "some rule..." When he
figured out that I was applying the rule with some thought, and only
correcting text, he calmed down considerably -- I think it may be the first
time he thought of the tech writers as having ANY sense at ALL.... :)