I'm editing a series of instructions, and I keep stumbling over this issue of whether using "and" in a chain of similar commands is necessary.

From the Start menu, select All Programs, then Quicktime Player.

Is that line fine as is? Or should I add "and"? Maybe take out the comma too?

Select All Programs, and then Quicktime Player. Select All Programs and then Quicktime Player.


Grammatically, I think it's wrong, but I feel your pain... In a list of instructions, I always allow readability to trump grammatical perfection. One of my personal favorites is to also do this:

Start menu -> All Programs -> Quicktime Player

  • I've even started writing Start menu \All Programs \Quicktime Player lately. – FumbleFingers Aug 4 '11 at 21:07
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    Why is "select All Programs, then Quicktime Player" grammatically wrong? Please produce supporting evidence for such a bold claim. Thanks. – RegDwigнt Aug 4 '11 at 21:52
  • Fair enough, the comma placement makes it feel like a fragment, but I guess it's technically not. That's why I said "think"... To the intent of the question, the way Regnilde was trying to phrase it was definately slowing down my understanding his/her instructions. Obviously what I proposed wasn't grammatically correct, it was a readability solution... – Rikon Aug 5 '11 at 1:41
  • Didn't mean for that to sound snippy :) – Rikon Aug 5 '11 at 2:30

Because you are denoting things in sequence, rather than a group of events, I think you have written it best in the first example. The alternative examples seem almost to change the meaning or cry out for their missing verb in the second clause.

If you felt it necessary, you might write "From the Start menu, select All Programs, then select Quicktime Player." This might be more clear. (Note the lack of "and.")

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