Since I have a sister with a
degree in English, I thought I?d pose her this question. I gave her the
sentence, and asked her to tell me what she thought it meant. By the
way, she now works editing technical documents, so I figured her opinion was
awfully relevant. I would hope you all would take special care to note
the last portion. So, although I think Gail has chosen a tiny thing to
squabble about ? its fair to say that the sentence is poorly written.
Frankly, I would put five (5) bucks down on a bet that the person who wrote
the sentence learned English as a second language (lawyers being
"In building a slab system, if care is used in all
steps except the use of high-quality concrete, the parking deck slab will
present a problem."
rule of editing: When in doubt, reword (e.g., can't figure out if it should be
"who" or "whom"? don't make that pronoun an object, and bam, no problem).
parking deck slab will present a problem if high-quality concrete is not used.
The parking deck slab will present a problem if high-quality concrete is
not used when building the slab.
When building the parking deck slab, the
use of less-than-high-quality concrete will present a problem.
original sentence has a couple of problems. First, "use of high-quality
concrete" is not really a step, right? Pouring concrete is a step. Using
high-quality concrete is a choice. Plus it's subjective (unless you have
industry standard measurements that delineate low-quality and high-quality
concrete). Secondly, it's wordy; there is no need for the initial clause "In
building a slab system" -- by the time you get to this sentence, people should
know you're talking about building a slab; neither is there need to say that
"if care is used" in all other steps, because it doesn't seem like it matter
if you use care or not, using crap concrete will cause problems. Plus why say
"if you use care"? It would be like saying in Genentech documentation, "if you
don't spit in the vial." You're supposed to use care, right? You get sued if
you don't. So why say it?
it isn't speaking to its audience. Engineers like exactitude. That's why
they're engineers, not politicians. I think most technical or manufacturing
people like their information succinct and to the point, like code: If X, then
Y. No need to get all flowery about it.
O'Connor Freeman & Assoc., Inc.
Street, Suite 201