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Suppose I am writing a chapter about some deep technical subject (say, for instance, "boolean variables"). This theme is riddled with idiosyncrasies and misunderstandings, so I would like to present the most confusing topics and to straighten them out. My question is: is the following section title suitable for a technical book?

"The Ins and Outs of Boolean Variables"

I am sure I have come across this expression many times, but as a nonnative speaker I really don't have a feel for how formal or adequate it sounds. Also, if this title is not adequate, what alternatives could be used in this case?

Edit:

The actual topic in this chapter is not really boolean variables; this was intended as an example. But the suggestions here are so good that I'm tempted to use them if the text touches upon that particular subject in the future.

Thanks,

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4 Answers 4

up vote 5 down vote accepted

An informal, jokey title is perfectly appropriate. This is especially true if, as I surmise, you're writing a progrmming manual of some sort. Computer science is a pretty informal field, after all. It's almost expected.

The title isn't very eye-catching, but it's a common enough turn of phrase and there's nothing wrong with it, as such.

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1  
I agree with this advice in general, but it does depend on who the readers and customer are. For programming doc for commercial products I've done this a lot, but I was more formal when writing for certain government customers. You need to look at the "ecosystem" your doc will fit into. –  Monica Cellio Jun 29 at 18:00
    
Thank you, this is precisely the kind of information I was looking for. –  rick Jul 3 at 1:26

It's not that it's unsuitable, but the word play of "Ins and Outs" isn't very well matched with the subject of "Boolean Variables." "Ins and Outs" sounds like it's more about GPIO pins.

I'd be tempted to do something like;

"If This_Chapter == About_Boolean_Variables {Read}"

;)

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This. I love puns and inside jokes. –  Lauren Ipsum Jun 29 at 12:25

Depends on how formal or informal the technical writing is and whether the target audience is beginner's or advanced.

A more specific and accurate chapter would be ideal. "Ins and Outs" is too vague.

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To add some more context, the chapter has a proper title, this is would be just a heading for a subsection. I agree that it would be to vague for a higher-level title. –  rick Jul 3 at 1:24

Im tempted with

The true and false of Boolean Variables...
There is nothing !true about this.
When you can't tell your true from your not-so-false
The universal !false!
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I loved those, thanks! –  rick Jul 3 at 1:24

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