TechWhirl (TECHWR-L) is a resource for technical writing and technical communications professionals of all experience levels and in all industries to share their experiences and acquire information.
For two decades, technical communicators have turned to TechWhirl to ask and answer questions about the always-changing world of technical communications, such as tools, skills, career paths, methodologies, and emerging industries. The TechWhirl Archives and magazine, created for, by and about technical writers, offer a wealth of knowledge to everyone with an interest in any aspect of technical communications.
Subject:RE: Future Tense in Tech Writing From:"Susan W. Gallagher" <sgallagher -at- kinzan -dot- com> To:"TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com> Date:Thu, 16 Nov 2000 11:13:10 -0800
Harry Hager wrote:
> In the thread "display vs. appears" there were a few
> responses suggesting
> the use of future tense...
> How many of you use future tense in your technical writing?
> ...I alway use present tense when I document procedures. (In
> rare cases, I'll
> use future tense if ...
> ...I've always considered this (using present tense) as one of
> the basic rules
> of technical writing.
> Am I wrong?
In my book, you are absolutely correct and scouring the future tense
from technical manuals is one of the first things I teach interns and
beginning writers. When I read instructions that include lots of
future happenings, I can't help but ask _when???_ ;-)
Occasionally I find it necessary to use future tense -- mostly in
situations where you set a parameter now and when you generate the
file later, something will happen. Even so, I try to avoid future
When I write, I imagine the reader walking through my documentation.
I want to keep the reader going forward, so I endeavor to write
forward-branching sentences. And I recognize that when I describe
an event, the reader is already there, so the event is happening
in the reader's present.
Good call, Harry!
sgallagher -at- kinzan -dot- com
"The Guide is definitive. Reality is frequently inaccurate."
-- Douglas Adams
Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy
Sponsored by SOLUTIONS, Conferences and Seminars for Communicators
Publications Management Clinic, TECH*COMM 2001 Conference, and more http://www.SolutionsEvents.com or 800-448-4230
You are currently subscribed to techwr-l as: archive -at- raycomm -dot- com
To unsubscribe send a blank email to leave-techwr-l-obscured -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com
Send administrative questions to ejray -at- raycomm -dot- com -dot- Visit http://www.raycomm.com/techwhirl/ for more resources and info.