The Editorial Apartment

Using the slash mark

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When reviewing business copy, I often notice a lot of use of the slash mark. First, besides appearing in URLs, fractions, or dates, for example, a slash is a mark that shows options: Food/drinks will be available in the patio.

This use of the slash is a bit informal and can sometimes be awkward, hence it’s probably best to avoid it or at least not overuse it. Some think the phrase “and/or” is unclear: Does the slash really mean both “and” and “or,” or does it mean just “or”? Lawyers, in particular, don’t like “and/or”—see this article for an explanation.

There is also the spacing issue around the slash. Here’s when to put space around it and when not to:

  • If the options are single words, you don’t need a space around the slash: We have a substantial promotions/signage budget.
  • If one of the options, or both options, is a phrase, put a space around the slash to help clarify what the options are: Please sign up for our e-newsletter / text message alerts here.

If you think the spacing looks a bit awkward, avoid the slash and just use words: Please sign up for our e-newsletter and text message alerts here.

Author: copyeditorgwen

I am a copy editor and my office is my apartment. I copyedit or proofread a wide range of digital and print marketing communications, as well as books and textbooks. Contact me if you need editorial help. My rates are reasonable, my work thorough, my turnaround fast. Visit my WordPress website:

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