How Do I Add 1/4 Teaspoon Salt/Pepper?

Making my Thanksgiving salad dressing, I read in the list of ingredients "1/4 teaspoon salt/pepper." Because both condiments are named, I am going to assume that the recipe author meant this:

1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper

But why not say that? With the slash, "salt/pepper" can mean "salt and pepper," "salt or pepper"–that is, "salt and/or pepper." 

Slashes can confuse people! Especially in important instructions–like recipes. 

Now that I have had my Thanksgiving day rant, I wish you a lovely day! 

Syntax Training 

P.S. To learn about the slash and many essential punctuation marks, take my online self-study course Punctuation for Professionals

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By Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston has helped thousands of employees and managers improve their business writing skills and confidence through her company, Syntax Training. In her corporate training career of more than 20 years, she has worked with executives, engineers, scientists, sales staff, and many other professionals, helping them get their messages across with clarity and tact.

A gifted teacher, Lynn has led writing classes at more than 100 companies and organizations such as MasterCard, Microsoft, Boeing, Nintendo, REI, AARP, Ledcor, and Kaiser Permanente. Near her home in Seattle, Washington, she has taught managerial communications in the MBA programs of the University of Washington and UW Bothell. She has created a communications course, Business Writing That Builds Relationships, and provides the curriculum at no cost to college instructors.

A recognized expert in business writing etiquette, Lynn has been quoted in "The Wall Street Journal," "The Atlantic," "Vanity Fair," and other media.

Lynn sharpened her business writing skills at the University of Notre Dame, where she earned a master's degree in communication, and at Bradley University, with a bachelor's degree in English.

5 comments on “How Do I Add 1/4 Teaspoon Salt/Pepper?”

  • Hi Lynn,
    Happiest Thanksgiving for you and all you love!
    1/4 + 1/4 tsp of both
    Such amounts should not cause any problem
    with the taste.

  • Hi Lynn,

    Wishing you and yours a great Thanksgiving.

    There’s also use of the backslash “”, which isn’t punctuation at all. It was invented in the early days of computer programming and does not appear on a traditional typewriter. I actually corrected ATT’s on their use of on their public website. Got a nice letter but no free service.

  • This is one of my bêtes noires and comes up a lot in my editing. I either change it (when meaning is obvious) or ask the author ‘do you mean “and”, “or” or “both”?’ Thanks for raising this point!

  • Happy Thanksgiving! How was the salad dressing? I know I should eat salads daily but couldn’t find room for it on my Thanksgiving dinner plate. Thank you, lynn, for the post. 🙂

  • Hello, friends! Thanks for your comments.

    Jerry, nice to hear from you! When I returned to the kitchen from publishing this blog post, I realized the recipe called for 1/2 tsp., not 1/4. I am glad I slowed down and paid attention. The salad and dressing were delicious.

    D, I am glad I haven’t seen the backslash as punctuation. It would drive me nuts. Thanks for mentioning it.

    S, you and I are in complete agreement. I’ll continue to write about the overuse of the slash.

    Carlos, the salad was terrific, with lots of tasty things beyond the lettuce: avocado, green apple, mandarin orange slices, blue cheese, green onions, and carmelized almonds. Too bad it’s all gone!


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