To Gerund or Not to Gerund?

Subject: To Gerund or Not to Gerund?
From: "Tsipi Erann" <tsipi -dot- erann -at- gmail -dot- com>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Mon, 20 Aug 2007 12:15:42 +0300

I'm in the process of adapting/creating a style guide for a company that
recently went through an M&A process.

We have become VERY stuck on the question of the format for procedure
headings: The common practice I'm familiar with is to use a gerund format
("Adding Files to the Database"). The other proposal was to use present
simple verbs ("Add Files to the Database").

Writers/editors on the "other" side have a bias against gerund use, because
of localization issues (although everyone pretty much agrees that consistent
usage overcomes translation issues).

Writers/editors on "this" side are against present simple, because a) it
looks the same as an imperative, and can therefore be confused with a step,
which leads to b) if our goal is to be DITA compatible, each architectural
element should be different, hence a heading must be different than a step.

After the long intro, here are my questions:

1. What is your opinion on the issue?
2. What style guide do you use/champion regarding procedure headings?
3. Do you have a good alternative to both gerunds and present simple? (one
suggestion was a "How To" statement, which some style guides [Microsoft]
prohibit... Do you know why they do?)


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