Re: The second person in user guides

Subject: Re: The second person in user guides
From: "A" <aurora -at- identicloak -dot- com>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Fri, 2 Dec 2005 16:43:24 -0500 (EST)

Sagendorph, Wallace said:
> A good fin-de-2005 to everyone:
> The editorial staff where I work is preparing a comprehensive,
> all-inclusive style manual that definitively (we hope) addresses all
> of
> the weightier matters connected with document preparation. Because
> this
> manual is primarily for editorial use and because most of our authors
> will not bother to thumb through a 100+ -page tome looking for answers
> to their writing-mechanics questions (an observation based, by the
> way,
> on years of empirical data) we have also prepared a 27-page author's
> companion guide that hits the common problems we encounter in usage,
> punctuation, capitalization, abbreviation, acronyms, references and
> citations, and so on.
> Some have suggested that to engage the readers, we should write the
> companion guide in a breezy, casual style using the second person
> ("you
> should do this," you should not do that," "your document should
> include," blah, blah). Others say this is tantamount to an approval of

1. Writers don't need as much handholding as ordinary readers. It
really doesn't matter what you use, I don't think. My preference as a
writer would be the 3rd-person. Hey, I know I'm not reading this for
pleasure or to understand some complex process. I need to know whether
to use gerunds or not. Now.

2. The folks arguing that friendly prose in an internal tech pubs
manual means that formal docs should or would become informal don't
understand the concept of audience, or fear an outbreak of
informality. :o



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The second person in user guides: From: Sagendorph, Wallace

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