About

I'm Mike Pope. I live in the Seattle area. I've been a technical writer and editor for over 30 years. I'm interested in software, language, music, movies, books, motorcycles, travel, and ... well, lots of stuff.

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[Strunk and White's] larger rules are something you could never disagree with: "Omit needless words." If you knew which words were needless, you would not need the advice.

Ben Zimmer



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Blog Statistics

Dates
First entry - 6/27/2003
Most recent entry - 6/19/2020

Totals
Posts - 2623
Comments - 2635
Hits - 2,273,552

Averages
Entries/day - 0.42
Comments/entry - 1.00
Hits/day - 366

Updated every 30 minutes. Last: 1:48 PM Pacific


  11:53 AM

I'm on hiatus at the moment (more on that next week), but I did want to break radio silence briefly to note a couple of editorial things that I've run across recently.

The first is a variation on the common confusion between rein and reign. For example, people often write reign in when they mean rein in.[1] However, I've never personally seen that confusion extend to a context where it's this clear that we mean the straps you use on horses. This is from a Netflix capsule summary:


Maybe I just haven't been paying attention.

And a second one is just a somewhat curious use of the expression "+/-". This is familiar to me to suggest numerical tolerances. So I don't quite get the motivation for using it in this sentence from a running website:
Avoid running during the hottest part of the day. Listen to your body and stop exercising, find a shaded, cool area, and rehydrate (+/- seek medical attention) if you experience lightheadedness.
If I were writing this out, I'd write something like "and if necessary ...", but I've never seen +/- used to mean that. Do they mean and/or? If so, is +/- shorthand for that?


[1] Tho I think that this particular confusion is understandable, since to my mind reign in could be something that constitutions do to chief executives.

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