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HarryDymond 1st July 2012 01:59 PM

Random comments on common errors in technical documents
 
This thread was prompted by a post in another thread. To avoid going off-topic, I have put my thoughts here. Comments/discussion welcome!

Plurals don't have apostrophes, and that includes decades and acronyms. e.g. "1980s" for "nineteen-eighties" (1980's means: "belonging to the year 1980") and "LTPs" for "long-tailed pairs" (LTP's means: "belonging to the long-tailed pair").

As specified in official style guides, numbers and their units should be separated by a non-breaking space (e.g. "1 kHz" not "1kHz"). Non-breaking spaces can be typed in Word by pressing shift-control-space (on Windows) or option-space (on Mac OS X).

The dash, the hyphen and the minus sign are all different ascii characters and the appropriate character should be used at the appropriate time. In particular dashes are often erroneously used as a minus sign. The minus sign is accessible in the OS-supplied character palettes in Windows and OS X.

Similarly, the letter "x" is not the same as the multiplication character. Again the multiplication character can be accessed from the OS-supplied character palettes in Windows and OS X.

"it's" means "it is" or "it has" and "its" means "belonging to it".

Dave Zan 1st July 2012 02:32 PM

And a couple of my favourites so Harry doesn't feel like he talks to himself.;)
Complementary transistors are NOT complimentary.
For units named after people, the word is spelled all lower case but the symbol is upper. So one henry is 1 H but one Henry is Lenny.

David

wahab 1st July 2012 02:50 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by HarryDymond (Post 3078117)
"LTPs" for "long-tailed pairs" (LTP's means: "belonging to the long-tailed pair).

The term LTP is itself non satisfactory as it s not ethymologicaly analytical
contrary to "differential pair" wich should be prefered , or perhaps a dedicated
acronym version should be used instead , as for the LTPs.....

HarryDymond 1st July 2012 08:18 PM

perhaps we could compile a list of commonly confused words?
  • complementary/complimentary
  • discrete/discreet
  • lose/loose
  • dependent/dependant (not a problem in US English as "dependant" doesn't exist in US English)

tomchr 1st July 2012 08:40 PM

My favorite is when time is specified in Siemens. Conductance is measured in Siemens (S). Time is measured in seconds (s). 1 ns != 1 nS. Never mind when people try to measure time in Newton-Siemens. 1 NS != 1 ns.

Or currents through a tiny device is measured in mega-ampere. There's a big difference between 1 mA and 1 MA. A factor of 1000000000 to be exact.

It's really not that hard. Prefixes less than 10^0 are all lower case. Prefixes greater than 10^0 are all upper case except k for kilo, which is lower case.

~Tom

DF96 2nd July 2012 12:49 PM

Something which often crops up is 'of' instead of 'have' e.g. "you should of done it this way". I once had to correct this for a technical college lecturer - he needed a lot of convincing that his comment on my work was illiterate!

There is a danger with this type of discussion: we might agree that people should try harder, but I suspect we all put the borderline between reasonable effort and pedantry in different places.

Osvaldo de Banfield 2nd July 2012 01:38 PM

As non-English speaker, I want to exploit this tread to ask what is correct with negative expressions:

doesnīt or doesnt

canīt or cant

donīt or dont.

havenīt or havent.

I have learned English of my own when boy, and all the teachers uses the apostrophes, but I see anywhere that donīt use them.

Thanks in advance.

Pano 2nd July 2012 01:42 PM

What you have listed above is called a "contraction". It's a shorting of the word by leaving out a letter or sound. When written, the missing letter is replaced by the apostrophe. That's the correct way to do it, don't you know? ;)

Pano 2nd July 2012 01:51 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by DF96 (Post 3079022)
Something which often crops up is 'of' instead of 'have' e.g. "you should of done it this way".

That's spelling trying to follow speech, isn't it? The word "have" gets swallowed in that phrase sounding like "should uhv". Many folks mistake that for "should of". (Voiced/non-voiced). But you knew that, of course.

Similar, in the US at least, is pronouncing "has" as "is" in a phrase. It's sloppy, but common - I hear newscasters do it all the time. "The president is signed a new bill". No one writes it that way, tho.

Osvaldo de Banfield 2nd July 2012 02:00 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Pano (Post 3079065)
What you have listed above is called a "contraction". It's a shorting of the word by leaving out a letter or sound. When written, the missing letter is replaced by the apostrophe. That's the correct way to do it, don't you know? ;)

Certainly I donīt know. The automatic spelling check in this PC refuses both with, and without the apostrophes. And Spanish (In fact, I must tell Argentinian language) donīt use the negative form i the verb itself, nor apostrophes, so I really donīt know what is good and what not.


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