There's a short piece of text whose heading is as follows:

Maximum variability and openness

The variability and openness should refer to the features of an application.

Which article should/could I use before maximum — zero, definite, indefinite?

I'm a little bit confused by the many examples found through googling.

Edit: I'm sorry I didn't include more context in my original question. I thought it would be enough. What follows is the actual text of the paragraph:

Customize the [product name] yourself for it to meet all of the diverse requirements of the users in your company. The openness of the [product name] is based on its ability to integrate an array of individual activities managed by special, tailored pieces of software that you use to perform activities in your company.

As for the negative connotations of variability when talking about software, I must say I was a bit confused at first, but then I checked my dictionary to find out it's a false friend in my native language. Good to know!

I suppose the producer wants to stress the... it's on the tip of my tongue... versatility or universality of their application. No, those aren't the right words. I guess it's the infinite customizability that matters here most. How about variedness, diversity, diverseness, heterogeneity or multifariousness then? I'm sorry if this is a bit off-topic. Should I make it another question?

  • 1
    There are cases where any of the three could be used. As @jwpat7 said, you've provided minimal context, so it's difficult to give an answer that would provide the maximum benefit.
    – J.R.
    Commented Sep 29, 2012 at 14:55
  • 1
    Now that you've given more information, I agree that variability is not a good word. (That's a word that I would use to describe weather, not software. When applied to software, it conjures up images of incessant upgrades.) Maybe you want flexibility? Other candidates might be adaptability, versatility, or customizability.
    – J.R.
    Commented Sep 29, 2012 at 19:53
  • Regarding whether to ask another question, I suggest asking in writers. Include the paragraph you italicized (but don't italicize it when you re-ask, instead use a > to block-quote it); fill in some actual nonce name like Hyperfine in place of “the [product name]”, which is clumsy for answerers to quote or mention; indicate Hyperfine is a nonce; and specifically ask how to break up the long awkward and jargony sentences of the example into short to-the-point sentences. Commented Oct 1, 2012 at 0:23

1 Answer 1


You haven't provided enough context to say definitively, but if the phrase is a heading or title, no article is needed. Article “a” would be incorrect (although one might say “A maximum of variability and openness”). Article “the” would be clumsy. Note, if you are describing a software product, variability is not a positive feature. Also, some may prefer maximal to maximum.

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