RE: future tense vs present tense

Subject: RE: future tense vs present tense
From: "Porrello, Leonard" <lporrello -at- illumina -dot- com>
To: "'Harvey, Jon'" <Jon -dot- Harvey -at- PERKINELMER -dot- COM>, "tech2wr-l (techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com)" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 11 Jan 2012 16:53:31 +0000

I'm not sure why, in instructions, you would ever say, "After you press ENTER...." Instead wouldn't you want to use an imperative: "Press ENTER." From that, "changes are saved" or "the application saves your changes" follows. And as Dan suggests, "Press ENTER to save your changes" would be best.

I would use the future perfect only in introductory material, a theory of operation doc, or requirements documentation. I can see no place for it in step by step instructions.

-----Original Message-----
From: techwr-l-bounces+lporrello=illumina -dot- com -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com [mailto:techwr-l-bounces+lporrello=illumina -dot- com -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com] On Behalf Of Harvey, Jon
Sent: Wednesday, January 11, 2012 8:41 AM
To: tech2wr-l (techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com)
Subject: future tense vs present tense

Hi All,

I had an interesting conversation with one of my colleagues. The topic was when to use future tense in instructions versus present tense. Such as:

"After you press ENTER, your changes will be saved." versus "After you press ENTER, your changes are saved."

I have my own opinion but I thought I'd ask other people what they think.



Create and publish documentation through multiple channels with Doc-To-Help.
Choose your authoring formats and get any output you may need. Try
Doc-To-Help, now with MS SharePoint integration, free for 30-days.

You are currently subscribed to TECHWR-L as archive -at- web -dot- techwr-l -dot- com -dot-

To unsubscribe send a blank email to
techwr-l-leave -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
or visit

To subscribe, send a blank email to techwr-l-join -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com

Send administrative questions to admin -at- techwr-l -dot- com -dot- Visit for more resources and info.

Looking for articles on Technical Communications? Head over to our online magazine at

Looking for the archived Techwr-l email discussions? Search our public email archives @


future tense vs present tense: From: Harvey, Jon

Previous by Author: Re: Laptop for personal use?
Next by Author: RE: future tense vs present tense
Previous by Thread: future tense vs present tense
Next by Thread: RE: future tense vs present tense

What this post helpful? Share it with friends and colleagues:

Sponsored Ads