Words and phrases that just don't work
|, and then||The Microsoft Manual of Style for Technical Publications states that this is acceptable because then is not a coordinate conjunction. However, a comma can serve as a conjunction, so I prefer to omit either the comma or the word and.Press the Enter key, then type the next line.
Press the Enter key and then type the next line.
|in order to, in order that||These phrases seldom add useful meaning and tend to clutter sentence structure.|
|simply||If it’s so simple, then why do you need to document it?|
|please||It’s an additive word that contributes nothing to a sentence.|
|from vs. than||The adjective different is usually followed by from. Use from when the next element of the sentence is a noun or pronoun.Correct: The result of the first calculation is different from the result of the second.
Incorrect: The result of the first calculation is different than the result of the second.
|may vs. can||Try to avoid using may, which shows permission or possibility. Can indicates ability, and is better in most contexts. Examples:The software can run in the background.
The software may crash when in beta test.
|which vs. that||Which refers back to an entire preceding statement rather than to a single word: She ignored him, which proved unwise. “Which proved unwise” refers to the preceding phrase, “She ignored him.”That should be used to introduce a defining clause, which identifies what is being discussed. When used this way, it should not be preceded by a comma. The book that Jack read was burned. “That Jack read’ describes the book referred to.
That may be omitted when the subject of the clause is different from the preceding clause. “The coffee that I had last night kept me up” could be shortened to “The coffee I had last night kept me up.” Exception: If you’re setting a document up for translation, do not omit the word “that” as it could create some ambiguity for the translator.