Re: Grammar Q

Subject: Re: Grammar Q
From: Craig Haiss <craighaiss -at- yahoo -dot- com>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Wed, 23 Jan 2008 04:41:59 -0800 (PST)

--- Janice Gelb <Janice -dot- Gelb -at- Sun -dot- COM> wrote:

> I know that you are adamantly opposed to the use of
> "you" but I still find it hard to believe that you
> consider these rewrites clearer and easier for the
> reader to comprehend than the original sentences.
> To each his or her own, I guess... Our styles are
> so different that it's probably a very good thing
> that we don't work at the same company as writer/
> editor!

I'd have to agree entirely with Janice on this one,
and I don't think this is just a matter of preference.

The use of passive voice instead of "you" is simply
less accurate. With "you" there is less room for
misunderstanding. If our job is to be as clear and
accurate as possible, why leave it up to the reader to
assume who should be performing the steps in the
procedure? It's nice to know something "can be" done,
but does that mean that I'm supposed to do it, or does
the product do it for me?

I have the same gripe about the use of "will." Unless
it implies something happening in the future, a
present-tense verb is simply more accurate. It gives
the user more information. If I say "The Product
Registration dialog appears," users know it will
happen immediately after they perform the step.
However, if I say "The Product Registration dialog
will appear," who knows when it is going to pop up?

I think it's always a safe bet to choose a specific
word instead of a vague one.

But it's early here, and I probably haven't had enough
coffee yet. :o)

-Craig Haiss
craighaiss -at- yahoo -dot- com

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Re: Grammar Q: From: Janice Gelb

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