- On July 23, 2014
A company said it wanted to position me as an extension of its team/culture. Another asked whether I provide deals/discounts for bulk work. As I was writing this bulletin, this question popped up in my inbox: How many different jobs did you try until you found your passion/career of choice?
The slash mark says three things to your reader:
1. I’m not sure which one I mean, so take your pick
2. I mean both, but it’s quicker to slap a slash on the page than it is to write and
3. I could mean one or the other, but I could also mean both
I can’t think of any business situation where you want to be that indecisive—or ask your readers to do so much figuring out.
In the examples above, one word would have sufficed: team for the first (if you’re on the team, you become part of the culture) and deals for the second (deal implies discount). As for the third, I would rephrase the question to read, How many different jobs did you try until you found the career you wanted?
If the two words represent distinct thoughts, as in, We expect morale/hiring problems, insert and: We expect problems in morale and hiring.
If you really mean one or the other—or both, say so in a sentence. For example:
Before: At least one-third of the company’s advertisements feature models of color and/or models with disabilities.
After: At least one-third of the company’s advertisements feature models of color or with disabilities. Some feature both.
The slash mark can be jarring, too. An organization that counsels drug addicts and alcoholics referred repeatedly to the addict/alcoholic in its newsletter. In otherwise personal articles about a sensitive topic, the addict/alcoholic struck a cold note. The person suffering from drug or alcohol addiction sounds more humane.
Yes, it’s a few more words, but above all, you want your writing to have a human touch.