RE: active vs. passive voice

Subject: RE: active vs. passive voice
From: "Lauren" <lauren -at- writeco -dot- net>
To: <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 27 Mar 2008 14:13:16 -0700

> From: Michelle Vina-Baltsas

> I've read many threads on this listserv related to the use of
> "appears"
> vs. "displays" or "is displayed".

There has never been a consensus for the proper convention to use from
previous incarnations of this debate in this forum. Personally, I avoid
"appears" because of its magical sound but if my client likes the verb, then
I use it.

> Is the use of "is displayed" passive voice?

The use of "is" before a verb puts the verb after the subject, so it is
passive. I don't like to think about grammar rules, so I try to find the
easiest way to de-passify a phrase. In this case, I would change "is" to
"to" and then fix the sentence. "To" puts the emphasis on the action rather
than the result and puts the command in active voice. So for this example,
I would write "click XXX to display YYY" rather than "YYY is displayed when
XXX is clicked."

Technical documentation should focus on actions rather than results. That
is, the documentation should show "how to" do an action, rather than "what
is" something or what an action causes.



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active vs. passive voice: From: Michelle Vina-Baltsas

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