Re: Grammar Q

Subject: Re: Grammar Q
From: louise -dot- r -dot- stevanovic -at- transport -dot- qld -dot- gov -dot- au
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Tue, 22 Jan 2008 15:39:01 +1000

Hi all

I appreciated the discussion about the merits, or otherwise, of using 'you'
in documentation. I had a similar discussion (okay, argument) with a fellow
technical writer not so long ago about the same topic. I generally use the
imperative, but there are some occasions where using 'you' is the simplest
solution and doesn't seem condescending (to me anyway). It also makes it
clear that the user has to do the action, rather than it being an automated
action (and it fits in with the Plain English Guidelines we are required to

I'd be interested to hear how those of you who never use 'you' would reword
sentences that provide options, reminders or information rather than
imperatives, such as the following:

You will be prompted to update the document history whenever you
save the document as a new version.

The IMD toolbar is displayed in the bottom left of the screen. You
can move it anywhere on the screen.

If you insert captions, remember to update the lists under the
Figures and Tables headings.

The last paragraph mark contains formatting for that document, so
if you copy it, it can overwrite the formatting in the document
you paste into.

Louise Stevanovic
Technical Writer
Strategy & Architecture Office

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