Repeating the same verb?

Subject: Repeating the same verb?
From: "Hart, Geoff" <Geoff-H -at- MTL -dot- FERIC -dot- CA>
To: "Techwr-L (E-mail)" <TECHWR-L -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>, "'Eadaoin O'Donnell'" <ead_ciara -at- hotmail -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 26 Sep 2000 09:06:57 -0400

Eadaoin O'Donnell has <<... a list of 19 options. I have put them in a table
and under the explanation column, I describe what each option allows you to
do. Someone proofed my document and suggested that I don't repeat the same
phrase each time. "This option allows you to.....blah blah">>

That's a good suggestion, since one of the main purposes of using a table
(just like in any list) is to avoid the necessity to repeat the context
(here, "what this options lets you do") for each item in the table or list.
The trick is to determine what the user is being "allowed to do", and
emphasize that action instead. In this case, the solution might be to
replace the heading "explanation" with "function", and use dynamic verbs:
instead of "lets you print reports", say "prints reports"; instead of "lets
you alphabetize the data", try "sorts the database alphabetically". And so

--Geoff Hart, FERIC, Pointe-Claire, Quebec
geoff-h -at- mtl -dot- feric -dot- ca

"Technical writing... requires understanding the audience, understanding
what activities the user wants to accomplish, and translating the often
idiosyncratic and unplanned design into something that appears to make
sense."--Donald Norman, The Invisible Computer

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