RE: Clearing the check marks

Subject: RE: Clearing the check marks
From: "Combs, Richard" <richard -dot- combs -at- Polycom -dot- com>
To: "Boudreaux, M (GE Healthcare, consultant)" <MadelynBoudreaux -at- ge -dot- com>, <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 17 Oct 2008 11:31:39 -0600

Boudreaux, M quoted herself as saying:

> > When you are instructing a user that all checkboxes on a form or
> > dialogue box need to be deselected, with no way of knowing if any of
> > them may be selected at any given time, how do you write the step?
> >
> > I'm assuming MSMoS preferences here. I'm more interested in syntax
> > than in terminology (all suggestions are welcome, though).
> >
> > 1) Deselect all check boxes. (Simple, and active, but there may be
> > none that need to be deselected.)

The best of the five, IMHO. Why does it matter that none may need to be
deselected? Are you writing for people who might be confused by that?

Actually, though, if there are lots of check boxes, the best solution is
a GUI change. The developers should add a Deselect All button (like the
one in FrameMaker's Import Formats dialog, which changes to Select All
when none are selected). Then you can say "Click Deselect All," and the
users will be grateful for not having to click a dozen check boxes.

BTW, neither (2) nor (3) is in passive voice. In passive voice, the
subject of the sentence is the object of the action. You can spot it by
looking for a form of the verb "to be." For instance, this is passive

"All the check boxes must be deselected."

But I'd say "ascertain" is most definitely a two-bit word that sounds
stuffy. It's the kind of word that makes me cringe when I see it (all
too often!) in business writing. Like "utilize" (in place of "use"),
it's used by stuffed shirts trying way too hard to sound formal and

IMHO, of course. :-)


Richard G. Combs
Senior Technical Writer
Polycom, Inc.
richardDOTcombs AT polycomDOTcom
rgcombs AT gmailDOTcom


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Clearing the check marks: From: Boudreaux, M (GE Healthcare, consultant)

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