RE: Display, Displays, or Appears

Subject: RE: Display, Displays, or Appears
From: "Andrew Warren" <awarren -at- synaptics -dot- com>
To: "Tim Lewis" <ltc -dot- writer -at- comcast -dot- net>, <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 5 Jun 2008 12:04:09 -0700

Tim Lewis wrote:

> I am sure this has been discussed here before but I cannot find it
> in the archives.

It's beaten to death about four times a year. I just searched
the archives for "display appear" and got hundreds of hits.

> For software user guides, I prefer to not use the word, "appear"
> or "appears" when the user clicks a button or selects a menu choice
> and something shows up on the screen. Which sentence below is the
> standard convention for the results of user interface actions?
> 1. When you click XYZ on the Main Menu screen, a ABC dialog box is
> displayed.
> 2. When you click XYZ on the Main Menu screen, a ABC dialog box
> displays.
> 3. When you click XYZ on the Main Menu screen, a ABC dialog box
> appears.

I like #3 (with "a" changed to "an", of course), but there's
a vocal group of writers who'd prefer either "is displayed" or
"opens", because "appears" seems to them to mean "appears as
if by magic". They don't like that for some reason, even
though "appears as if by magic" is PRECISELY what a dialog box

A dialog box doesn't have a real-world physical equivalent
like a folder or document -- it's OUTSIDE the desktop
metaphor -- so it doesn't have to "open" like a folder or
document. It's an intrusive, metaphor-breaking interface
between the user and the computer; "appears" describes its
behavior perfectly. Plus, "appears" has an antonym that you
can use when the box goes away; "is displayed" doesn't.

... but that's just my opinion. You really should check the
archives again.


=== Andrew Warren - awarren -at- synaptics -dot- com
=== Synaptics, Inc - Santa Clara, CA

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