Re: Wrong? Poor style? OK?

Subject: Re: Wrong? Poor style? OK?
From: "Michael West" <mbwest -at- bigpond -dot- com>
To: <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 25 Mar 2009 22:51:38 +1100

Nancy asked:

> Does this sentence violate a grammatical principle,
> is it stylistically poor, or is it OK, in your opinion:

> "There are two ways to control how test results are saved."


It violates no important grammatical principle, but as an instructional
sentence it sucks bigtime because it doesn't tell me, as a performer of
actions, what the hell I'm supposed to DO!

If your intention is to tell me how to "save test results", then be upfront
about it.

For example, you could say: "If you want a result that looks like THIS, then
choose THIS option. If you want results that look like THAT, then choose
THAT option."

The problem is that you are not treating the reader as someone who can
effect a certain result, based on a specific choice.

Instead, you are just saying "this happens" and "that happens" as if the
user's preference was totally incidental to the outcome.

Speak directly to your user!

--
Mike West


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