Re: Futur tense use in technical documentation

Subject: Re: Futur tense use in technical documentation
From: iain -at- hairydog -dot- co -dot- uk (Iain Harrison)
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com
Date: Fri, 21 Jan 2000 19:38 +0000 (GMT Standard Time)

> "When you click the X button the X dialog will be displayed"

Apart from sounding clumsy, this is still factually incorrect. The X
dialog will be displayed shortly after you click the X button, not "when"
you click it.

Putting the "will be" into the sentence changes it from a description of
what would happen in the event of the button being clicked to a
prediction that this event will come to pass. Although this is probably
true, I doubt it's the intention.

I'm not happy with answering the question, because I don't really like
either alternative, but the context isn't clear.

Why is the user clicking the X button? Is it to open the X dialog, or for
some other reason?

I'd prefer something like "Click the X button to open the X dialog" or
"Click the X button to change the X settings" or "Be careful not to click
the X button, or you'll have to deal with the X dialog"

If you want to change as little as possible, I'd go for something like
"Click the X button. The X dialog is displayed"

--

Iain

iain -at- hairydog -dot- co -dot- uk
iainh -at- cix -dot- co -dot- uk




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