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For example:

The instructions must be detailed and concise.

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Are detailed and concise contrary notions? No. Have you checked? –  Kris Jan 20 at 13:44
    
It helps to think in terms of information density. Lots of information (detailed) in a small space (concise). –  Izkata Jan 20 at 19:28
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6 Answers

up vote 22 down vote accepted

No, "detailed and concise" is not an oxymoron. Not any more than describing a crust as tender and flaky would be. Both are statements of balanced purposes, which together shape the desired result.

Detailed in context means "thoroughly describing all relevant parts."

Concise in context means "free of superfluous detail."

Hence, "detailed and concise" means "thoroughly describing all relevant parts without superfluous detail."

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why must you describe a delicious pie. Berries aren't even in season in North America.. –  bobobobo Jan 20 at 18:20
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I think it is not an oxymoron; the phrase "detailed and concise" enforces an idea. In this case an oxymoron might be "detailed summary".

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At first reading it does seem to be, but it could be taken to mean 'as concise as possible while covering all the details'.

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You are right. Substantiate your answer and it may get qualified as the answer even. Include more supporting information citing reliable sources. –  Kris Jan 20 at 13:47
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Compendious is a single word meaning "detailed and concise". If the latter is an oxymoron, then the former would be a single-word example of an oxymoron.

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Well, you are partially right.

Detailed is sometimes used as a euphemism for "long-winded". As in,

Those instructions are rather, uh, detailed.

So if the word detailed is not intended as a euphemism, then it is in the very least a wrong word choice. What he probably meant to say was exact instead. As in

The instructions must be exact and concise.

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Brief and concise is an equivalent of succinct, in other words, efficient communication.

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Why do you disagree? –  BanksySan Jan 21 at 12:14
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