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this is what the Microsoft Manual of Style says about appear vs. display:
Use *appears *as an intransitive verb; use *displays *as a transitive verb.
If necessary in context, you can use the passive *is displayed.*
*If you try to quit the program without saving the file, a message appears.
The screen displays a message if you don't log on accurately.
A message is displayed if you don't log on accurately.
If you try to quit the program without saving the file, a message displays.
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