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Don’t use slashes

Apart from fractions, the slash has almost no good uses. “And/or” is a classic example. In most cases, writers mean either “or” or “and.” But they don’t want to take the time to decide which they mean, so they push the job off on the audience. That makes their writing ambiguous.

As an author, you should decide what you mean. In the few cases – and there do seem to be very few – where you truly mean both, write out “either X, or Y, or both.”

Often when writers use slashes, a hyphen is more appropriate to join equal or like terms, as in “faculty-student ratio.”


  • Garner, Bryan A., Legal Writing in Plain English, 2001, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, p. 163.
  • Kimble, Joseph, Lifting the Fog of Legalese, 2006, Carolina Academic Press, Durham, NC, pp. 155-156.