Re. Inconsistent

Subject: Re. Inconsistent
From: Geoff Hart <geoff-h -at- MTL -dot- FERIC -dot- CA>
Date: Thu, 11 May 1995 10:27:05 LCL

Danna McLaughlin wrote to ask about the significance of
inconsistencies. The rule that suggests we should be consistent has
one important function: to avoid confusing readers. If an
inconsistency doesn't confuse, then the reader won't care. The
problem: determining when something is confusing can be a real
judgment call.

My rule of thumb is that nouns pose the greatest problem. Since a noun
names something, using different nouns implies different things. Verbs
don't seem to be as much of a problem (e.g., type, enter, input),
except where convention suggests that there is a functional difference
between apparent synonyms. For example, "save your work" and "back up
your work" appear similar, but have different meanings; the first
means to move it out of RAM into some permanent medium (usually your
hard disk), whereas the second suggests moving the file from one
medium to another (e.g., hard disk to floppy). If you understand your
subject, you should be aware of these cases and able to avoid them; if
you've any doubts, ask someone or avoid the synonym.

--Geoff Hart #8^{)}
geoff-h -at- mtl -dot- feric -dot- ca

Disclaimer: These comments are my own and don't represent the opinions
of the Forest Engineering Research Institute of Canada.

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