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Which is version is correct?

filename or file name helped me a little, but didn't answer my questions, please see below.

program <filename> - where <filename> is the file name you want to process

program <filename> - where <filename> is the name of the file you want to process

As I know, "file" becomes like an adjective in this case.

  1. Is it normal to use the short version in technical documentation (end-user);

  2. Is it correct to the and a articles with the short versions. the name of a file == a file name and the name of the file == the file name?

  3. Is it correct to use a compound form, like "application executable file name" ("the name of the executable file of the application")?

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up vote 4 down vote accepted
  1. I think that the second line is a better explanation in the context shown, but there are plenty of other places where the simpler 'filename' (or 'file name') would be used in documentation without problem.

  2. Yes, using the articles as shown is correct.

  3. Compound sequences of nouns like 'application executable file name' are used quite a lot, but often don't make for good reading. On the other hand, neither does the form using 'of the' if it is repeated often. That's why people tend to end up using a shorthand - 'application' or 'application executable' for the example, depending on exactly what is being discussed.

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+1, and welcome to EL&U Jonathan – VonC Nov 26 '10 at 7:47
  1. Your first example would make me think that it is the filename that will be processed, for example by changing the file extension. The second clearly states that the file is being processed that is identified by that filename.

  2. Correct.

  3. I agree with Jonathan Leffler. Correct, but hard to read.

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+1 for #1. The only way to make the first example work to refer to the file and not just its name would be to move the rest of the description: "the to-be-processed file's name". – Jon Purdy Nov 26 '10 at 8:12

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