Re: The second person in user guides

Subject: Re: The second person in user guides
From: Edwin Skau <eddy -dot- skau -at- gmail -dot- com>
To: "List,Techwriter" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Sat, 3 Dec 2005 18:36:53 +0530

Hi,

I'd suggest creating a table where you have a dozen or so typical
sentences from your manual in the two styles mentioned. See if the
"you" adds value. I usually feel it doesn't.

In the imperative mood, the "you" is implied anyway. Adding a you
makes it redundant, and sometimes seems to imply a "hey!" (as in, "Hey
you! Click that there button!).

-edwin



On 12/3/05, Sagendorph, Wallace <wis8 -at- cdc -dot- gov> wrote:
>
> 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
> such usage in formal documents, and is unnecessary in any event --- the
> imperative mood ("do this," "don't do that") works as well or better,
> and it does not imply that "you" and "your" should find their way into
> documents released to publications or the public.
>
> Your comments (;>) please.
>
> Wallace
>
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References:
The second person in user guides: From: Sagendorph, Wallace

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