Some Dos About Don’ts

I like the don'ts included on a package of gel "window clings," that is, window decorations, I have had on my office window during the holidays. The don'ts below are taken directly from the GelGems window clings package:

  • Don't give GelGems to children under 4 — they're a choking hazard.
  • Don't expose GelGems to temperatures above 120°F – they'll get gooey.
  • Don't stick GelGems on drywall, or other porous surfaces — they will leave oily marks. Test your surface!
  • Don't eat GelGems — they're not toxic, but they don't taste good.
  • Don't let your GelGems touch each other — they will bleed color onto each other.

The GelGems writer did a fine job of following a few dos about don'ts:

  • Do start each don't with the word don't. Without that word, the don'ts will appear to be dos.
  • Do use simple language such as "Don't eat GelGems." Complex language will get in the way of the message. 
  • Do briefly state the reason for the don't. "They're a choking hazard" and "they'll get gooey" are simple yet sufficient.
  • Do limit the number of don'ts. Seven to nine don'ts is a good maximum number.

It's time for me to remove my holiday decorations and get back to work. I will be sure to follow the excellent GelGems don'ts–no eating the decorations or letting them touch!

Do enjoy the start of the new year. I wish you a wonderful 2011.

Syntax Training





  1. Don’t use don’t on signs use do not. Apostrophes are rarely used on signs or place names, in the US there are only four place names with apostrophes.

  2. Hi, Tim. I haven’t seen signs with “Do not.” The signs I see begin with “No,” as in “No parking” or “No smoking.”

    I believe the “No” approach is clearer than a sign starting with “Do not.” The “Do” might confuse.

    I had no idea of so few place names with apostrophes. Interesting!


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