Typos and Conformance

I got a few emails from the Peanut Gallery I’d like to share.
John writes: “Did you leave the incorrect spelling of ‘Antarctic’ in paragraph 5 just to check if we were reading and digesting your Tip of the Day?”
No, John, I did not do that on purpose. I’ve sinned and actually made two typos in my 308 Tips of the Day – that’s not a bad record. Shows that I am human and do err now and again. That’s a good idea, though, about planting typos to test the Peanut Gallery on occasion.
I’ve added John’s name to my office whiteboard list of Attaboys for catching “Anarctic.” I corrected the mistake on my blog, where another person called me on it by leaving a comment. Thanks to all those who are on their toes (hey, that rhymes!) – they keep me humble.
Here’s another email from the Peanut Gallery.

Mohammad asks: Which one is right? “Out of conformance” or “not in conformance?”

For example: These numbers represent pattern count out of conformance…    or These numbers represent pattern count not in conformance…

Well, Mohammad, I would say that in general, out = not in. Therefore both are correct usages. A Google search showed that “out of conformance” had 79,600 hits, and “not in conformance” had 879,000 hits, so the latter use is more popular, though both are technically correct.
However, the sentence structure you gave as an example sounds better with “out of conformance.” The reason for this has to do with point of view. The focus of the sentence is “these numbers” that represent a certain “pattern count” that are outside of the limits of conformance. Since your focus is outside, “out of conformance” fits the subject of the sentence better.

On the other hand, if your point of view is focused on things inside the limits of conformity, such as the issue of safety, then “not in conformance” would work better.

Example:

That contractor’s safety management program was not in conformance with our corporate guidelines.

It’s a subtle difference, but selecting the best option depending on the point of view can be a powerful tool in distinguishing whether you are an insider or an outsider.

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