Monday, January 11, 2010

Slash That!

The slash has many names--virgule, solidus, slant, forward slash--but we'll just call it a slash and appreciate it for its broad range of uses!

Most commonly, a slash is used to communicate alternatives; sometimes, it may be a helpful shorthand for or, for alternative spellings or names, or to mean and in certain contexts. He/she, his/her, and/or are very recognizable uses of the slash. An example in the context of shorthand is a Jekyll/Hyde personality or an MD/PhD student.

Sometimes a slash is used in the place of an en dash in dates (or in combination with the en dash). The slash indicates the last part of one year and the first part of the next. For example, The winter of 1966/67 was especially severe or The fiscal years of 1991/92-1998/99 were encouraging in several respects. And of course slashes are informally used in all-numeral dates (today is 1/11/10), although it can cause ambiguity and should be avoided in formal styles.

Slashes are also shorthand for per, as in rent is $600/week or the speed was 110 km/sec. A slash is also used with fractions to mean "divided by." Or in poetry, when two or more lines are quoted within regular text, a slash with a space on each side is used to show a line break.

Otherwise slashes do not require any spaces before or after the words or numbers they separate. No other rules are necessary with slashes; quick, easy, and useful! Just the way we like our punctuation.

1 comment:

  1. Cool! I'd sure appreciate an entry on how to use dashes and/or semicolons. Please? :)