Friday, 22 May 2020

Using the forward slash or solidus

Using the Solidus (Waddingham, 2014, p. 90)
We should try to avoid forward slashes (solidi) in the normal run of academic writing. It is better for us to use a conjunction instead - such as ‘or’ - as this interrupts the flow of the writing less for reader.

However, a solidus shouldn’t be used as an ‘and’ conjunction: it is supposed to present alternatives - options - to the reader, not present concepts as 'both'. While common usage in texting and digital media is moving solidi towards being an ‘and’ as well as an 'or' conjunction, academic writing has not yet embraced this. 

While this may be another case to 'watch this space' for writing style evolution, if we do make the transition to a solidus meaning 'and', we will end up needing another way to punctuate for 'or'. Otherwise our writing will lose clarity. 

My source for most of my information on these matters is that most revered guide to style, New Hart's Rules, from the Oxford University Press team (Waddingham, 2014)The book has a fabulous chapter on diacriticals (punctuation), and another wonderful one on spelling. There are sections on capitalisation, names, abbreviations, bibliographies and indexing. It also contains a glossary of printer's terms.

Get yourself a copy if you haven't already. It's gold. 


  • Reference: Waddingham, A. (Ed.) (2014). New Hart's Rules: The Oxford style guide (2nd ed.). Oxford University Press.

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