RE: Should vs. Will, Must and Can

Subject: RE: Should vs. Will, Must and Can
From: Stephen McDermott <Stephen -dot- McDermott -at- PREMERA -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 3 Jan 2002 07:45:07 -0800

How about encouraging active voice? It's a relatively simple answer, but is
also a diplomatic one (the "how-to" writing books I have seen beat the
active/passive issue to death).

Steve McDermott
Sr. Tech Writer
Premera Blue Cross

-----Original Message-----
From: Jane Carnall [mailto:jane -dot- carnall -at- digitalbridges -dot- com]
Sent: Thursday, January 03, 2002 7:36 AM
Subject: Should vs. Will, Must and Can

I've noticed while proofreading Javadoc that at least one of the developers
has a habit of phrasing notes (to the end-users, who are developers external
to this company) with "should":
-You should find that the elephant displays as follows:
-This giraffe should be included.
-Where monkeys are present, you should enter Shakespeare as the standard.

In each instance, I believe it would be clearer to use "will", "must", or
"can", instead of "should":
-You will find that the tiger displays as follows:
-This lion must be included.
-Where cheetahs are present, you can use Fastest as the standard.

However, the developer in question has said before that he thinks it's nicer
to say "should" than "must". Is there a nice way to say that I think it's
better to be clear than nice?

He's also sometimes indefinite about "will" (the tiger *should* display like
that *if* everything is working right) and there he may have a point - but I
would say that "will display" follows on from the unsaid "if you've done
everything the way we said" as much as "should display" does.


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