Re: Futur tense use in technical documentation

Subject: Re: Futur tense use in technical documentation
From: "Susan W. Gallagher" <susan-gallagher -at- vertel -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 21 Jan 2000 11:10:07 -0800

At 10:46 AM 1/21/00 +0000, Sybille Sterk wrote:
>Dear all,
>
>We have a dispute at work...
>"When you click the X button the X dialog is displayed" (this is what I
>normally write)
>"When you click the X button the X dialog will be displayed" (this is what
>my boss wants me to write)
>
>What tense would you use?

Present tense wins my vote.

The problem with using future tense here is that the action happens *now* --
not an hour from now, not next week, *now*. By the time the user finishes
reading the description of the event, it's already happened.

Reserve future tense for actions that clearly happen sometime in the future.
For example, "If you activate this checkbox, the compiler will generate
the appropriate file each time you run it." This is a clear now/then
situation.

That's my two cents.

-Sue Gallagher http://pw1.netcom.com/~gscale/susanwg/
susan-gallagher -at- vertel -dot- com http://www.vertel.com

The _Guide_ is definitive.
Reality is frequently inaccurate. --Douglas Adams




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