Ranges: Range limits I

May 1, 2003: Issue 58

SIM STYLE: How do I handle heights of people and things?
It’s SIM style to always use numerals with dimensions and to write out the unit measure itself.
incorrect: The living room has a nine-foot ceiling.
incorrect: The living room has a 9-ft. ceiling.
correct: The living room has a 9-foot ceiling.
incorrect: Betty, who is five-foot-one, appreciates the change.
incorrect: Betty, who is 5′ 1″, appreciates the change.
correct: Betty, who is 5-foot-1, appreciates the change.
incorrect: The hutch stands six feet six inches tall.
incorrect: The hutch stands 6′ 6″ tall.
correct: The hutch stands 6 feet 6 inches tall.

Notice the differences in punctuation in the correct examples above. Apply standard rules of hyphenation to heights used a compound modifiers, as in examples 1 and 2. Otherwise, use no punctuation at all, as in example 3.

For more information, see Issue 73.

GRAMMAR: Give it your all, and then some …
Phrases such as the following often creep into our publications: “Similar products cost up to $2,000 or more.”

What’s wrong with this structure? We’re setting an upper limit ($2,000) and then exceeding it (“or more”) in the same sentence. We can do one or the other, but not both. As written, all this sentence says is that similar products cost money—period—as ANY amount fits this definition. We probably mean to imply that most products will cost $2,000 or less, but that a few may be more expensive. Simply rewording will fix the problem. It’s generally safe to assume the sky’s the limit and not even mention the “or more,” but if you feel it’s needed, make sure it’s logical.
correct: Most similar products cost up to $2,000.
correct: Similar products cost up to $2,000, although some can be more expensive.

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