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Suppose a drawing contains a (single) thing labeled with a reference character, for example, "Client Device 102."

Is it proper to later refer to the client device using a plural? For example, obviously it is proper to say "Client device 102 may be used for..." But what about "The server may connect to client devices 102 when..." Or what about the possessive: "...the client device's 102 component may contain..."?

If the right answer is to only use singular/plural to refer to exactly what is depicted in the figure, then it seems to follow that figures should always include multiple instances of the thing, just for this reason. For example, the figure could contain three client devices labeled 102, 104, and 106. Then I can refer to "client device 102" or "client devices 102, 104, 106." But it seems awkward to include multiple client devices just for this reason, as well as to arbitrarily choose one of the three to be THE client device.

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  • I would simply use 102 and write: "one or more client devices 102".
    – picibucor
    Commented Dec 30, 2022 at 20:00

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