Archive for October, 2013

So That vs. Such That

October 29, 2013

Today’s Tip of the Day is brought to you by Australian Rhonda Bracey, editor of CyberText Newsletter, whose blog is every
bit as helpful and informative as mine, if not more so. (But I’m funnier – and WAY more humble, er, full of myself.) We subscribe to each other, and she has helped me out of some very frustrating Word situations with her expert advice.

Susan asked: “I see ‘such that’ used frequently these days, especially in […] documents. It’s used instead of ‘so that’. What are your thoughts?”

She then gave an example:
The [ABC management system] ensures that critical information related to health, environment, safety, reliability and efficiency
is developed, accessible, and maintained such that the workforce has access to and is using the most current information.

I wasn’t sure of the differences so I had to look this one up, and found a decent explanation here:

In essence:
•       “Such that” focuses on consequences, or HOW something is done
•       “So that” focuses on purpose, or WHY something is done

So in the example above, “so that” would be more appropriate, as it’s referring to the purpose (the WHY) of the ABC management system, which is to give the workforce access to the most current information.

A simple, if macabre, example to show the difference:
•       The doctor changed Mary’s medication so that she died. This sounds like the doctor wanted to kill her (purpose).
•       The doctor changed Mary’s medication such that she died. This sounds like the doctor made a mistake (consequences).


Funny Typo of the Day:
John Evans in Oman sent in the following:

“I came across a great typo yesterday. Instead of ‘Full Field Liquid Fraction Expansion Project’ as the document title, I had ‘Fullfilled Liquid Fraction Expansion Project.’ I can only guess the project may already be finished or is obviously a happy and
contented project.”

Or that those expanded facilities are filled full to the brim, hopefully with liquid crude oil.

Profound “So That” Quotes of the Day:

“The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak.”
– Hans Hofmann, German artist, 1880–1966

“Accept the challenges so that you can feel the exhilaration of victory.”
– George S. Patton, American military general, 1885–1945

“The world is round so that friendship may encircle it.”
– Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, French philosopher, 1881–1955


Simple Present

October 26, 2013

I’ve been noticing a lot of the following in technical papers:

Bad Examples:
Figures 1 and 2 are showing the Hall Plots for these two wells.
Table 3 is showing the contracts that will be up for renewal in 2014.

This verb tense is called the Present Continuous, which is used to express something that is happening now over a period of time. It is made up of am/is/are plus the present participle (–ing).

Unlike your favorite movie that “is showing” at the theater and is going to stop showing in a few weeks, Figures 1 and 2 and Table 3 are not going to stop showing. A much better way to write this is to use the simple present, “show,” which is used to state a fact.

Corrected Examples:
Figures 1 and 2 show the Hall Plots for these two wells.
Table 3 shows the contracts that will be up for renewal in 2014.

I’ve also been seeing a lot of the following flowery frou-frou:
Figure 1 illustrates….
Figure 2 depicts…..
Table 3 enumerates….

There’s a writing maxim that is heard at virtually every writing club or critique group meeting:
“Show, don’t tell.”
The fancy verbs get in the way of what the real meat of the sentence is, which is what follows the verb: the words that describe what the figures and table actually show.

Think of the simple present “show” as being similar to attributions of quotations using a simple “said” instead of: opined, declared, stated, uttered, answered, replied, exclaimed, cried…. You’re not writing a novel if it has figures and tables in it.

Profound Quote of the Day:
“I believe that if you show people the problems and you show them the solutions they will be moved to act.”
– Bill Gates, rich American businessman, b. 1955

How to Subscript CO2 and H2S using Replace in Word

October 26, 2013

I just figured out how to find and replace all instances of CO2 with CO2 where the 2 is subscripted in  Microsoft Word, and it worked successfully, changing it 783 times in one
document in one fell swoop!!

Hot diggitty dogs!

And this tip also worked for converting H2S to H2S. Using this same trick in the same document, 92 instances of H2S were changed at once!

I call it the Texas Two-Step:

1)      In the Ribbon on the far right in the Editing box, click on Replace. Type CO2 in the Find What: box, then in the Replace With: box put four spaces between the CO and the 2, and click Replace All.
2)      Next, in the Find What: box, put four spaces followed by a 2, and in the Replace
With: box put a 2, but then open the More button, highlight the 2 in the Replace With: box, click Format, choose Font, and check the Subscript box, click OK, then hit Replace All.

And Voila!

I can’t tell you how much work this is going to save me in the future.
What an excellent writing tip for my 500th blog post!
I was waiting for something special to share for that particular milestone.