Re: Is the generic "you" implied in error messages?

Subject: Re: Is the generic "you" implied in error messages?
From: iain -at- hairydog -dot- co -dot- uk (Iain Harrison)
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com
Date: Sat, 12 Feb 2000 10:04 +0000 (GMT Standard Time)

> I rewrote this error:
> "This item cannot be deleted."
> to say:
> "You cannot delete this item."

I agree with the programmer. Active voice is generally better, but not
universally. It seem to me that there are three ways to write this:

"This item cannot be deleted" - it simply isn't possible.
"You cannot delete this item" - but someone
smarter/thinner/taller/richer/more important could.
"No-one can delete this item" - we've all had a go, and haven't managed.

I think that the message you want to convey is the first one, so passive
voice is the best bet here.

--

Iain

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




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