Posted by: episystechpubs | August 29, 2012

Editor’s Corner: Slash and Burn

Good afternoon, dear readers. Many of you send me your pet peeves, which I’m happy to cover because they’re usually bits of grammar and punctuation we all need a refresher on.

Today, Editrix is going to share a personal peeve of mine. I reviewed this a month or so ago, but perhaps it was nested in too much other information. Writers take note: a peeved editor is an ugly thing to behold.

Revised for your reading pleasure and retention:

/ (Called by many names: slash, forward slash, solidus, stroke, or Virgule)

“During the Middle Ages, this sign of many names, including those listed above, served as a comma; a pair denoted a dash.” (“12 Signs and Symbols You Should Know,” DailyWritingTips.com) People, we are not in the Middle Ages! Please read on for the modern uses and rules of the slash.

But before we begin: There are no spaces before or after the slash. The one exception is the quotation of poetry. The last time I checked, technical documentation, while lovely, does not include poetry, and should not include spaces before and after the slash.

Slashes have many names and duties:

· You can use slashes to signify alternatives, such as he/she

· Sometimes used as shorthand for “or,” but in technical documentation we require precision and “or” should be spelled out

· In some cases represents “per,” for example: $3000/month

· Used in certain abbreviations, such as “c/o” (in care of)

· Sometimes used to mean “divided by” when other symbols are unavailable or impractical

· Used in URLs and file paths to separate directories and file names

· Used to indicate a line break in a poem or play, or the start of a new paragraph in quotations of ordinary prose, for example: “I met a man that was very wise. / He had no hands, but he had three eyes, / ” (John Ciardi)

Go forth, prosper, and leave out the extra spaces around the slash (/). You’ll be glad you did.


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