Your Help Please With “As Per”

Dear Technical Writers,

Would you please help me with a question about "as per"?

In a business writing class in San Diego, a participant wanted to help her team write better technical instructions. Their instructions are wordy, use overly sophisticated language, and do not follow a consistent format.

She made good progress toward her goal, but she–and I–got stuck on "as per."  Is "as per" acceptable in technical writing as a substitute for "according to"? Or is there a better way of communicating something like this sentence, which I have made up:

Attach the plate to the rod as per Instruction 3231 on plate-rod assembly.

The idea is that some steps in the instructions refer to other instructions.

In business writing I encourage everyone to replace "as per" with clear language, like this:

As per your request As you requested, I have postponed the meeting.

But I am not sure what works effectively in technical writing when the instructions cite another set of instructions that assemblers must follow. Is "as per" a good solution?

I would love your suggestions. And if you can recommend a guide to writing technical instructions for me to add to my library, please do.

Many thanks!

Lynn
Syntax Training

20 COMMENTS

  1. I would never use the phrase “as per”, even in technical text. It’s a strange hybrid of English and Latin that sounds both wrong and pretentious.

    Couldn’t we just do a straight translation here of “per” and say “as with”? Or replace “as per” with “according to”?

  2. I also cringe at the term “as per”. That may be because some of my coworkers use it too often, and many times incorrectly. I think I would use “as stated in Instruction 3231”

  3. The Handbook of Technical Writing from Bedford/St. Martins makes a nice reference book. Here’s the advice on using per: “When [per is] used to mean ‘according to,’ the expression is jargon and should be avoided.”

    As a technical writer, I would say there’s a bigger issue than using as per to reference other instructions. It’s an issue of clarity.

    Each time you make a reader break from the current set of instructions to find, follow, and return from another set of instructions, you run the risk of losing the reader.

    I think there’s lots of options to edit “as per” that depends more on the actual context of document than whether or not it’s jargon. But that may be just my opinion.

  4. Thanks, everyone! I appreciate your suggestions. It sounds as though we agree that “as per” stinks. The suggestions that seem most workable to me are:

    –according to
    –following
    –as stated in

    Mike, thanks for commenting and sharing “The Handbook of Technical Writing” advice. I agree that multilayered instructions are wrong-headed. The woman in my class, however, had a reason for using them. In her view, all the assemblers actually know the substeps. They are simply there for reference in case a new assembler is learning the procedure.

    Lynn

  5. I would never use “following” due to readability issues, including potential ambiguity. “According to” and “as stated in” are wordy for technical documents. I would simply use “per” and spare the sorry bunch who have to read my docs some text.

  6. I can’t recall an instance where ‘as per’ made sense.

    There is almost always a clearer alternative;

    – as agreed
    – as indicated in
    – as shown
    – etc.

    Almost every time I see ‘as per’ it comes across as a fatuous pseudo-latin affectation. Harsh, I know, but it is a jarring distraction from the flow of text.

    Even if the alternative occasionally involves more words, I avoid the phrase like the plague. The objective is clarity, not brevity.

    There may be cases where it is appropriate, but they are few and far between.

    My $0.02 worth.

  7. I can’t help adding two uses of ‘as per’ that surface on the first page of a Google search on the term:

    “I can play as per situation demands”

    “Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt to marry as per Hindu style”

    Shoot me now. It’ll be less painful.

  8. I came across this site in an attempt to explain to a co-worker why “as per” isn’t correct.

    I figured I would add my 2 cents. =)

    “Per” means “according to.”
    “As per” would mean “as according to,” which I think we can all agree is not correct.

    “As per usual” drives me insane.
    “As usual” would be correct.

  9. I too find “as per” redundant and an unlovely English-Latin hybrid. According to the OED, however, it’s historically common to preface “per” with “as” when used to mean “according to” (rather than “for each”). The earliest documented uses in English date back to the 1500s and continued through the early 20th century. It probably sounds affected to us today mostly because it’s fallen out of common use in the last 100 years.

  10. I agree- “as per” is redundant. I do architectural construction documents and “per” is good enough. Short, sweet, and our builders know what it means.

  11. People who use as per are usually trying to look smarter than they are. Like people who use “whilst”. I remember the old saying… Better to keep your mouth shut and have everyone think you’re stupid, than to open your mouth and prove it.

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