RE: His/Her v. Their

Subject: RE: His/Her v. Their
From: "Combs, Richard" <richard -dot- combs -at- Polycom -dot- com>
To: Becca <becca -at- di -dot- org>, tech2wr-l <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 26 Oct 2012 07:50:30 -0700

Becca wrote:

> Some documents I'm editing of necessity give procedures in third person
> rather than the assumed (you) second person. There's no way around
> this.

Occasionally, it's appropriate to describe to the reader what someone else needs to do. But I'm highly skeptical that a whole set of documents "of necessity" describes all procedures in the third person.

> In the document I'm editing, they use His/Her. My inclination is to use
> "their" - comments?

When I have to describe to the reader the actions of a third person, I avoid possessive pronouns entirely. Or use the plural noun and pronoun.

"The operator sets the default widget options."
"End users can customize their widget options."

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

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His/Her v. Their: From: Becca

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