Grammar Tip – The Slash

The slash (also called a virgule, diagonal, solidus, oblique, or slant) is a punctuation mark that is often overused. And it often creates the impression of a lazy thinker, particularly when used to imply and/or. Most readers and editors dislike this usage.

Example

We need to get a copy of the presentation in print/electronic form. (This is ambiguous. Can the copy be sent in one form only or are both forms required?)

Revised Examples

We need to get a copy of the presentation in either print or electronic form.?We need to get a copy of the presentation in both print and electronic forms.

Slashes can also be hard on the eye. It is usually preferable to write the alternatives in full. My guideline is that if it sounds strange when you read it, change it.

Examples

Everyone must submit his/her vacation request by Friday. (This sounds odd when you read it aloud.)

Revised Example

Everyone must submit his or her vacation request by Friday.

Here are examples of when slashes can be used in business writing:

To create an abbreviation or to replace the word “per”

Examples

w/ = with

c/o = care of

fiscal year 2007/08

km/hr = kilometres per hour

To show that a person has two functions or a thing has two components

Examples

Owner/operator

Commercial/residential property

Secretary/treasurer

AM/FM radio

On/off switch

Note: There is no spacing on either side of the diagonal.

By the way, this / is a slash; this is a backslash. Backslashes are used only in computer language. Don’t confuse them.

 

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