Read this sentence I am writing in a document (software manual)

Software helps you generate the reports on shorts and overs.

The context: What actually I mean by 'Shorts' and 'Overs' is if the software, for example, is used by inventory department, it will get them the stock's status --whether it's short or over to some figure. Say if the total has to be 100, if the report says 80, it's short and if it's 110, it's over.

Is using shorts and overs like that make sense? Or I can have a better way to write it?

  • The words shortage and excess come to mind. – Damkerng T. Jun 24 '14 at 11:42

I've never seen "shorts" or "overs" used to express the concepts that I think you're trying to express.

I would suggest you look at "shortages" and "surpluses".

So something like:

The software helps you generate reports on shortages and surpluses.

If you have a target of 100 items in stock and you only currently have 80 then you could say you have a shortage of 20 items (and you probably need to order some more).

If you have 110 items then you have a surplus of 10 compared to the target (and you might want to investigate why that's happened).


I haven't seen "shorts and overs" used this way in the US (unless its specific to that type of work). I would say:

The software helps you generate the reports on inventory discrepancies.

discrepancies here refers to sets of data that don't match (such as physical counts and computer software counts).
Also I would not say the reports. Just reports is fine, unless it is a specific set of reports you are talking about.

  • I agree. I've worked on many stock inventory control systems, and never come across Shorts and Overs in that context. I've also worked on many cash control systems, where the term is often used in respect of differences between how much money an employee (or the data collection system associated with transactions he carries out) says he should be handing over at the end of a working shift, and the actual amount of money received and counted. I would find it very confusing to see Shorts & Overs used to mean Stocktaking inventory discrepancies. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Jun 24 '14 at 17:02

First, if you're targeting a specific industry, I would follow the "know your reader" maxim, and adjust the "too-much-word" to fit the industry standard (should there be one). Then consider the following options:

  • As a bullet point, I would suggest: "Easily generate shortage and [overage | surplus | excess] reports."

  • As a sentence in prose you could say: "The XYZ module generates shortage and [overage | surplus | excess] reports.

  • Or to stay true to your sentence/phrase: "Software helps you generate reports on shortages and [overages | surpluses | excesses].

Note that you can use the singular or plural forms depending on how you word it:

  • Personally, I think the singular sounds better in your example with two reports e.g. "generates shortage and overage reports").

  • On the other hand, a plural might be better in this: "Software generates reports on: shortages, overages, something-or-other totals, monthly something-counts, projected future orders, etc.

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