The use of the forward slash (/) has gone too far. Whether known as the slash, diagonal, virgule, slant, or solidus, the mark is simply showing up too often. I used to see them commonly in only and/or and his/her constructions. But lately I can’t turn away from my computer without having another one appear on the screen. Are you experiencing the same thing?
Here are examples:
- Some clients/customers prefer to deal with a local vendor.
- Please provide pricing/packaging information.
- The library has books/tapes/audios/CDs/reference librarians.
- We will use other advertising avenues such as web site/email blasts and direct mail.
- Determine who/what is the subject of your document.
- His title is Director of Budgets/Allocations.
- Provide all substantive correspondence/email with vendors/suppliers/other external persons/organizations.
When I read, I say the words in my mind, sometimes slowly to think about their meaning and sometimes fast just to get the gist of the message. But I always say the words.
So when I get to a slash, I have to stop and think about what word it stands for. For example, in Number 1 above, I can’t just say “clients slash customers”–a gruesome thought. I have to decide that it means “clients and customers.”
In Number 2, I have to slow down to determine whether the meaning is (1) pricing and packaging or (2) pricing or packaging.
In Number 3, I have to insert commas and the word and, or I will imagine several unfortunate librarians squeezed in at the end of a shelf of books/tapes/audios/CDs.
In 4, I wonder whether the writer intends web site blasts and email blasts, or web sites and email blasts.
In 5, I can easily fill in the word or, but I wonder why I have to. Why doesn’t the writer use a two-letter word instead of making me supply it?
In 6, I am sure the director’s life would be easier with a word rather than a slash in his title. He would never have to explain “Budgets slash allocations.”
Number 7 cries out for revision:
Provide all substantive correspondence, including email, with vendors, suppliers, and other external persons and organizations.
What is your view/opinion/experience? Do you have guidelines/suggestions/tips on the use of slashes? (Forgive me. I wrote those questions just to point out how slashes inspire redundancy.)
Please share your comments. And see my earlier post on the legimate use of the slash for combined titles.