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In the context of a website form, a user is required to use at least three of four listed character types in his or her password. Which is correct:

1)

Your password must contain three of the following: 
- Uppercase letters 
- Lowercase letters
- Numerals
- Non-alphanumeric characters

2)

Your password must contain three from the following: 
- Uppercase letters 
- Lowercase letters
- Numerals
- Non-alphanumeric characters
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  • Three of the following makes more sense, because saying "three from the following" means that you have to pick three items - like a multiple choice question.
    – user63241
    Jan 28, 2014 at 23:29
  • I don't think that makes very much difference. But from the way both are worded there is a bigger problem, I believe. The first time I read it I thought it meant three of/from the following meant three characters from each.
    – WS2
    Jan 28, 2014 at 23:35
  • @SanathDevalapurkar Thanks for your input. The requirement is that the user must "pick" three unique "items" from a list of four. Jan 28, 2014 at 23:41
  • @awesome: Exactly! So the first example tells you that in your password, you should have at least three from the list of uppercase letters; lowercase letters; numerals; non-alphanumeric characters. The second, though tells that you password must have at least three of the phrases "Uppercase letters; Lowercase letters; Numerals; Non-alphanumeric characters".
    – user63241
    Jan 28, 2014 at 23:47
  • @WS2 Thanks. I agree—not much difference. Yes, the wording seems a bit confusing, but I'm constrained by the approved specs provided to me. However, I'm curious about which is more correct or even which is more acceptable. Jan 28, 2014 at 23:55

2 Answers 2

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I would suggest "Of the Following", since these are listed as discreet items. If the options were presented as a set, say, "Your password must contain three from the following set: {upper case letters, lower case letters, numerals, non-alphabetic characters}", then I would use "from". The use of "from" implies a single entity/set, "of" implies a selection from a loose affiliation of entities.

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In colloquial terms, "of the following" sounds somewhat better and simpler than "from the following" which could easily be misinterpreted because it sounds awkward. That's just my two cents.

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