TechWhirl (TECHWR-L) is a resource for technical writing and technical communications professionals of all experience levels and in all industries to share their experiences and acquire information.
For two decades, technical communicators have turned to TechWhirl to ask and answer questions about the always-changing world of technical communications, such as tools, skills, career paths, methodologies, and emerging industries. The TechWhirl Archives and magazine, created for, by and about technical writers, offer a wealth of knowledge to everyone with an interest in any aspect of technical communications.
Subject:Re: Overuse of "It" From:Janice Gelb <janice -dot- gelb -at- sun -dot- com> To:techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com Date:Fri, 23 Mar 2007 12:03:44 +1100
John Posada wrote:
> I think, for each example, an important issue is what was the
> sentence immediately preceding each of the instances.
> For instance, you may have:
> The XYZ Server is based on technology that is almost 7 years old. It
> may be slightly older than the matching server at our remote backup
> In cases such as these, it would be wordier if the word "it" wasn't
> "The XYZ Server is based on technology that is almost 7 years old.
> The XYZ Server may be slightly older than the matching server at our
> remote facility...
Or without the "it":
"The XYZ Server, which is based on technology that
is almost seven years old, might be slightly older
than the matching server..."
> Our IT environment is composed of 27 servers. It appears that 25% of
> the servers are being utilized at less than half of their capacity.
"Our IT environment is composed of 27 servers.
Usage reports indicate that 25%..."
> You mean it is condescending to read?:
> "Is it important to note that even though the state of the Finish
> button does not change visibly, you cannot finsh input untill all the
> fields are filled in." (BTW...please forgive any minor wording
> issues...I'm on my 12th hour at the office today.)
Yup - two choices:
* Cut out the phrase and start with "Although the state
of the ..."
* If it's really important, put it in a note.
> Interest, the same thing. "As the system administrator, you may find
> it of interest that with the 2.0 release, we've redesigned the GUI
> frontend of our application based on input from you and other
> managers." (OK, maybe a little marketingish, but I stand by the
Sorry, too Marketing for words, no cookie for you :->
And even if you were to leave the Marketing stuff
in, you could still reword the sentence to get rid
of the problematic "it" construction (and first
person plural, for that matter!):
"Input from system administrators and other
managers influenced the redesign..."
Or if you wanted it to be more audience directed:
"System administrators might be interested to
Rarely if ever are the indefinite "it" constructs
a better choice. I do agree wholeheartedly that
a blanket prohibition against beginning sentences
with "It" would result in clunky repetition of
noun strings and have no objection when the referent
for "it" is clear. But fuzzy intros like "It appears"
can almost always be rewritten to make the sentence
Janice Gelb | The only connection Sun has with
janice -dot- gelb -at- sun -dot- com | this message is the return address
Create HTML or Microsoft Word content and convert to Help file formats or
printed documentation. Features include single source authoring, team authoring,
Web-based technology, and PDF output. http://www.DocToHelp.com/TechwrlList
Now shipping: Help & Manual 4 with RoboHelp(r) import! New editor,
full Unicode support. Create help files, web-based help and PDF in up
to 106 languages with Help & Manual: http://www.helpandmanual.com
You are currently subscribed to TECHWR-L as archive -at- web -dot- techwr-l -dot- com -dot-