Define 'comma' - yes

Subject: Define 'comma' - yes
From: "Carnall, Jane" <Jane -dot- Carnall -at- compaq -dot- com>
To: "'TECHWR-L'" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 5 Nov 1999 09:30:09 -0000

>In a manual, where name_pairs are separated by a comma, is it appropriate
>include a comma in brackets after the word 'comma'?
>Like this:
>The name_pairs are separated by a comma ( , ).

Thanks to all who responded!

My eventual solution, after considering all replies, was:

>The name_pairs are separated by a comma ( , ).
>an example of name_pair , name_pair

There seemed to be general agreement (with one or two exceptions) that
however obvious it seemed that a comma is a comma, actually stating visually
this is what a comma is, couldn't hurt and might help.

Apart from the use of this list as a technical resource, this is what I find
most useful while I am working as a solitary technical writer in a team of
programmers, etc: to be able to get the opinions of my peers on something as
simple, yet not straightforward, as: "Will everyone know what a comma is
without illustrating it?"

Several people made the point that when text is translated (particularly if
it is translated into languages that don't have the same kind of punctuation
as English) it is possible to misunderstand the word comma, but not the
symbol ( , )

And several more said that to people who know English as a second language,
the *word* comma might be unfamiliar, since how often do you see punctuation
spelt out?

Good points all. Thanks again,

Jane Carnall
Technical Writer, Compaq, UK
Unless stated otherwise, these opinions are mine, and mine alone.

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