Re: Technical writing in a higher ed environment

Subject: Re: Technical writing in a higher ed environment
From: "Chuck Martin" <cm -at- writeforyou -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 22 Mar 2004 09:39:11 -0800

"Al Geist" <al -dot- geist -at- geistassociates -dot- com> wrote in message
news:232946 -at- techwr-l -dot- -dot- -dot-
> This is a classic argument between journalists and English majors. I
> have never found not using the serial comma to be a barrier to clear
> writing, nor have any of my editors. Since a number of the
> organizations that have used my services as a lone writer have also
> received excellent reviews of the documentation I've produced, I can
> only assume that the readers could care less about the lack of a serial
> comma and are happy with the clarity of the writing and overall
> presentation.
> Bonnie Granat wrote:
> >To me, AP's not using the serial comma is a serious deficit. It's a
> >barrier to clear writing, in my opinion.
> >

But among the points of writing clean, comprehensive, concise, and complete
user assistance is to eliminate, as much as possible, both any ambiguity in
the content and any extra cognitive load on the user. What a serial comma
does is help ensure there is no ambiguity in a series.

This may not manifest itself is simple series, but it is made more clear in
compund series. Users (and possibly reviewers) who understand the difference
may notice its omission but consider it irrelevant. Users who don't
encounter it may find it adds to their cognitive load to make sure they
understand what it being presented.

I know this has been argued before, even here, but if the bottom line it to
make sure content is as clear as possible, then that goal should be driving
grammatical and style guide decisions.

Chuck Martin
User Assistance & Experience Engineer
twriter "at" sonic "dot" net

"I see in your eyes the same fear that would take the heart of me. The day
may come when the courage of Men fail, when we forsake our friends and
break all bonds of fellowship. But it is not this day! This day, we fight!"
- Aragorn

"All you have to decide is what to do with the time that is given you."
- Gandalf


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RE: Technical writing in a higher ed environment: From: Wendy Cunningham
Re: Technical writing in a higher ed environment: From: Al Geist
Re: Technical writing in a higher ed environment: From: Bonnie Granat

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