For example, stating a street address with millimetric precision would be too exact and is therefore not applicable and not done. So you can be too exact. Is there an expression for this error or a phrase (like "cutting stones with a surgeon's knife" or likewise if someone uses a tool or an instrument with too much precision for a job)?
closed as not constructive by coleopterist, Kris, Rory Alsop, tchrist♦, cornbread ninja 麵包忍者 Feb 27 '13 at 16:38
As it currently stands, this question is not a good fit for our Q&A format. We expect answers to be supported by facts, references, or expertise, but this question will likely solicit debate, arguments, polling, or extended discussion. If you feel that this question can be improved and possibly reopened, visit the help center for guidance. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.
In engineering, we use the term overspecify
Wiktionary gives a good definition
overspecify (third-person singular simple present overspecifies, present participle overspecifying, simple past and past participle overspecified)
To specify in excessive detail.
The customer overspecified the requirements and now we're contractually required to build it this way. Does he think he's an engineer?
To specify excessive capability.
As usual the customer overspecified the requirements, it's like asking for a car that sits 20 and fits in compact car's parking space.
To provide redundant or inconsistent information.
An overspecified truth table contains at least one decision that will never be executed because it is already specified in a previous decision... A noun phrase is overspecified when it is used in a context where a pronoun would have been unambiguous. (It could also mean that the material requirement was underspecified.)
We have tools that can cut material to a very high accuracy. It wouldn't be reasonable to require high accuracy for something like wood, for example, because wood is dimensionally unstable. To create a requirement for such accuracy in this case would be to overspecify the requirement.
These are all similar to the idea you are proposing, just not exact:
The best is the enemy of the good.
Can't see the forest for the trees.
Penny wise, pound foolish.
Maybe an example for the address which demonstrates the problem would be the difference between these fictional addresses for the same location:
110 Main Street
Census Block 1310 Main Ave, 40 FT X 92 FT 4 IN, HAWKINS FARM ROAD ADDN, LOT 7
Both addresses are (fictionally) accurate, but the second provides both too much info and is also harder (for typical purposes) to use.
Some other possibilities for describing this behavior might be:
drowning in the minutae (drowns us in the minutae)
describing ad naseum
If the added details are included as an attempt to hide or confuse the truth, then perhaps it is a whitewash or an attempt to bury the truth and make it as hard to find as a needle in a haystack.