I work on a technical manual where each separate rule is followed by an example. (Actually, each rule is followed by two examples, a correct one and a wrong one. The wrong ones are skipped for brevity.) Here is a small excerpt from it:


Put attributes below rather than above captions.

[columns="1, 2", grid="none"]

Put a space after a comma; do not put spaces around an equal sign.

[columns="1, 2", grid="none"]

It seems to me that "Put" in the beginning of the second sentence, due to the same word in the beginning of the first sentence, is somewhat ambiguous.

  • Do we mean "Do not forgot to put a space after a comma"? (yes we do). Or
  • do we mean "Put a space after rather than before a comma"? (no we don't).

How to solve this issue? Is it better to replace the second "Put" with "Do put"? Or maybe it is better to replace the first "Put" with "Place"? Or maybe there is some another way?

  • Any ambiguity comes from the fact that you do not say anywhere "Do not put a space before a comma" or any other form of words meaning the same thing. It doesn't matter whether you use 'put', 'place', 'insert' or any other word with a similar meaning that part of the instruction is still not made explicit so the same ambiguity exists. – BoldBen Nov 15 at 15:38
  • 2
    The word put is used the same way in both sentences. One says where to position attributes, and one says where to position a space. Put a space does not mean remember to do that, but that any comma that you use must have a space following it. – Yosef Baskin Nov 15 at 15:38

My suggestion

Place attributes below rather than above captions.

Insert a space after a comma; do not put spaces around an equal sign.

| improve this answer | |
  • chasly, thanks :) What is the reason to use both insert and put in the second sentence? Why not just put or just insert in both cases? – jsv Nov 16 at 9:39

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