4

I'm trying to edit a user guide in which the word such is used frequently to describe the way things have to be done. For example:

Step 1: Position the frame on the cone using the sliding bar, such that/so that/in a way that the cursor of the meter is on the crosshairs.

Or

Step 4: Position the lens such that/so that/in a way that the lower segment marking is on the measuring dial.

Which usage correct? Should I use a different phrase?

0
1

If you are talking about doing something or asking others to do a thing a certain way, the adverb SO should be used;

'Position the frame on the cone using the sliding bar so that the cursor of the meter is on the crosshairs'

SUCH is a determiner used mainly to add optional emphasis to a noun or noun phrase;
'she has pretty eyes', 'she has such pretty eyes'

(Both words have many more meanings and uses which can be studied at leisure) http://dictionary.cambridge.org/grammar/british-grammar/such

You can ofcourse, use SUCH in your instructions if you really want to;

'Position the lens in such a way so that the lower segment marking is on the measuring dial.'

A very basic rule-of-thumb is, 'SO do something' and 'SUCH emphasis'

0

So that and such that are synonymous in this context. However, such is more formal, and commonly appears in mathematics (e.g. "The set of all prime numbers p such that p+2 is also prime"), while so is less formal and more likely to appear in (say) a DIY instruction manual.

Avoid "in a way that"; it's wordy and feels clumsy to me.

4
  • I always thought of so that as dynamic, and such that as static. The set of prime numbers doesn't change, so you should use such that, while if you're positioning something, you're moving it around, so you should use so that. I have no idea whether this is a real distinction. But Ngrams seems to endorse so that here. Dec 25 '14 at 16:59
  • @Peter: "The building was architected such that the light from the window just touched the opposite wall at 3:00 PM" - that's dynamic, so is it wrong?
    – Kevin
    Dec 25 '14 at 17:00
  • the building isn't currently in the process of changing, so there's an argument that it's still static in this use. I don't perceive it as wrong. But if you said "design the window such that the light from it touches the opposite wall at 3:00 PM", that sounds wrong to me. Dec 25 '14 at 17:03
  • I suspect it would sound better in the past tense, and even more so in the perfect. That makes the dynamic into a static. It also makes the writing slightly more formal, supporting either interpretation.
    – Kevin
    Dec 25 '14 at 17:06

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.