RE: future tense vs present tense

Subject: RE: future tense vs present tense
From: "Sharon Burton" <sharon -at- anthrobytes -dot- com>
To: "'Harvey, Jon'" <Jon -dot- Harvey -at- PERKINELMER -dot- COM>, "'tech2wr-l'" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 11 Jan 2012 09:00:21 -0800

Always use present tense unless the action really and truly will happen in
the future (not in the "now").

Some good reasons:
1. Future tense adds uncertainty to the action. It will happen at some
unknown point, may soon, maybe later, who knows? Present tense includes a
certainty to the action - it happens right after I do this.
2. In English, present tense is inherently more interesting to the way our
brains work. We find things happening in the now to be more interesting than
something that happens at some undefined future time.
3. In the world of information as we need it, the user is (should be)
following the instructions in the Now and so the instructions should be
written in the Now.

Unless your product really does work in some unknown future and you want
people to feel uncertain about it in an uncomfortable but don't know why


Sharon Burton
Content Strategy Consultant
IM: sharonvburton -at- yahoo -dot- com
Twitter: sharonburton

-----Original Message-----
From: techwr-l-bounces+sharon=anthrobytes -dot- com -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
[mailto:techwr-l-bounces+sharon=anthrobytes -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.



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future tense vs present tense: From: Harvey, Jon

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