Word usage: PRINT?

Subject: Word usage: PRINT?
From: "Hart, Geoff" <Geoff-H -at- MTL -dot- FERIC -dot- CA>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 19 Jul 2002 10:16:25 -0400

Karen West reports: <<I am currently writing an advanced user manual for a
software application that generates reports... I have been asked to change
the word PRINT to something more appropriate... The thinking behind this is
that PRINT is rather old fashioned and usually means to produce a hard copy.
With the advent of spreadsheets, the web, email etc not all reports that are
generated are actually printed. I agree with this up to a point but it does
produce problems as the substitutes, SHOW and DISPLAY, do not always fit.>>

Given the last sentence of what I quoted, "print" may be the correct word in
some cases, and your reviewers may just have to suck it up and deal with the
fact that some of us still love our paper. <g> The more general point I'd
like to make is that one very good general solution may be to use both
"print" and "display" to explicitly indicate that both options are possible.

"Viewing" is probably the best single-word alternative if you really need a
single-word approach because viewing refers directly to the user's need ("I
want to see the information"), not the software's function ("the software
displays or prints"). The main problem with a single word approach is that
it conceals facts that you might want to make explicit, such as the fact
that you can print information once you're viewing it. That may be
sufficiently obvious from context that this is a non-issue.

<<"When using comparative percentages the second item must be explicitly
specified as a print item in the body of the SUM report.">>

"To display or print a SUM report that includes comparative percentages,
specify that the second item [what's that?] must be included."

<<"This chapter describes how to create summary reports that show numeric
information, such as the total values of orders, without needing to print
detailed information from each record.">>

"This chapter describes how to create numerical summary reports, such as the
total values of orders. You do not need to print or display detailed
information from each record." [The latter part might be clearer if you said
something like: "You can print or display both detailed information from
each record and overall summaries."]

<<The problem is more pronounced for section headings, e.g. "Displaying
Occurs Fields" just does not sound right to my ears whereas "Printing Occurs
Fields" does.>>

Again, the heading would become "printing or displaying..." or some variant

--Geoff Hart, geoff-h -at- mtl -dot- feric -dot- ca
Forest Engineering Research Institute of Canada
580 boul. St-Jean
Pointe-Claire, Que., H9R 3J9 Canada
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