Archive for February, 2014

A Few Little Things

February 5, 2014

Y’all get three mini-tips for the price of one today.

1)      I prefer X ___ Y
I’ve seen several prepositions used to fill in this blank, including “than” and “over.” The correct preposition is “to.”
Example:  I prefer chocolate to vanilla.
You can use “rather than” if the resulting sentence has too many “to” words in it, such as when comparing infinitives.
Example: I prefer to stand on the escalator rather than to climb.
(Sounds much better than: I prefer to stand on the escalator to to climb.

2)      Inclusive of….
Inclusive means that something includes the endpoints or something extra.
Example: The Teen Dance is open to ages 13 to 18, inclusive.
Example: The certified, pre-owned Lexus cost less than $40,000, inclusive of tax, title, and license.
In most cases, you can just use the word “including” after a comma and space.
Example: Make sure you put all the parts, including the O-rings, in the plastic bag for shipping.
“Inclusive of the O-rings” sounds much more stilted than “including.”
KISS = Keep It Short and Simple.

3)      The Slash, Revisited
In most cases, the slash means “either/or” or “and/or”; rarely does it mean “both.”
Bad Example: Make sure you have the dimensions/tolerances from the manufacturer.
Certainly you want to have both the dimensions and the tolerances, not just one or the other.
If you want both, ask for both. Make it a compound object: change the slash to “and.”
Corrected Example: Make sure you have the dimensions and tolerances from the manufacturer.

And A Two-Fer Quote of the Day:

“Timid men prefer the calm of despotism to the tempestuous sea of liberty.”
– Thomas Jefferson, American President and founding father, 1743-1826

“As far as I’m concerned, I prefer silent vice to ostentatious virtue.”
– Albert Einstein, German physicist, 1879-1955

Spell It Out

February 1, 2014

Sometimes you need to abbreviate words on a form to make sure everything fits in there properly. But if you can fit the whole word in there, then by all means, please spell it out.

For example, today I saw a form that had the following:

Rot Face ____    Stat Face ____     Shft OD Spec _____

I had to laugh; Rot Face sounds like a great name for a punk rock band – or possibly a supreme insult to an older sister from a little brother.

There was plenty of room on that line of the form to spell out Rotor Face, Stator Face, and Shaft OD Spec. Whoever is filling out the form will
be far more likely to include the correct information if things are spelled out. That person will not have to wonder if Stat Face means Statistical Face or Static Face or Stationary Face and have to go find the supervisor to ask what Stat Face is supposed to mean. Even interns will leave it blank rather than appear stupid because they did not know and were afraid to ask.

And that brings me to the Funny Typo of the Day, which I saw on that same form:
O’Rings – these must be Irish O-rings, the kelly green kind.
O-rings follow the same rule as X-ray, Y-axis, and J-function: the first solitary letter is capitalized, followed by a hyphen, and the word after the hyphen is all lower case.


In memory of the crew of the Space Shuttle Challenger, which exploded January 28, 1986, due to O-ring failure in the right Solid Rocket Booster:

“I touch the future. I teach.”
–  Christa McAuliffe, American schoolteacher and astronaut, 1948-1986