Modern technical writing has one paradigm—use correct grammar and syntax—and many author-optional guidelines (i.e., the goal of this column). These guidelines recognize the variability of authors and the variety of their styles but constantly caution: Invoke styles consistent with how readers read, interpret, and retain. Otherwise, you'll ruin your document. Technical writing continues to evolve, generally toward improvement. But, not unlike nature, it retains vestiges of its past. I'm referring to outmoded paradigms. Once the vogue, they fell into disuse for good reasons and should be forgotten, but as with “old soldiers,” old paradigms “never die.” Unfortunately, “they don't just fade away” either. What led me to this conundrum are the following excerpts from an e-mail exchange I had with a friend in England.

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