RE: introducing steps

Subject: RE: introducing steps
From: "Combs, Richard" <richard -dot- combs -at- Polycom -dot- com>
To: Peter Sturgeon <prsturgeon -at- bell -dot- net>, techwrl <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 18 Oct 2011 08:41:26 -0700

Peter Sturgeon wrote:

> This thread ignores translation. Making the introductory phrase a
> complete grammatical sentence makes it easier for translators and non-
> native speakers of English to understand the procedure.

Making the introductory phrase a complete grammatical sentence makes it longer and thus more expensive to translate. If your translators can't translate an English infinitive phrase into the target language in a way that's clear, it's time to get some real translators.

> By starting with a infinitive phrase, every subsequent step is
> grammatically part of a potentially very long serial sentence.

Theoretically, that may be true, but it's of no consequence in practice because the introductory phrase can be omitted without making any of the steps incomplete sentences. Let's assume your style calls for no introduction at all or, for that matter, for an introduction that's a complete sentence:

1. Carefully examine the shipping container for damage.
2. Remove the Whizbang and its power supply from the container.
3. Connect the power supply to the power jack on the left rear of the Whizbang.

Now imagine your new tech pubs manager tells you to start each procedure with an infinitive phrase. What changes would you need to make to the steps if they were preceded by "To install your Whizbang:"? None.

> Just sayin'

Ditto. ;-)

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


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