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Subject:Re: You Use 'you'? From:Ann Balaban <annb -at- DADD -dot- TI -dot- COM> Date:Fri, 10 Jun 1994 15:56:10 -0600
Re: You Use "You"? I am posting this for Kathlyn because it didn't go
through the times she tried to post.
> Pam, in principle I agree, as long you keep the should in that statement
> and not make it a must. Remember, we're living in the real world. Like
> their audiences, writers are human. If a given writer is not confortable
> with a writing style imposed from without, there are three options:
> A) Write it in that style anyway, and end up doing it badly because you
> just can't get into the flow of the document.
> B) Write it the best way you know how, and be prepared to justify your
> choices (and suffer for them, possibly leading to C).
> C) Find another job.
> arlen -dot- walker -at- jci -dot- com
I agree with Pam: the needs of the readers MUST come first. If we
sacrifice their needs to our "comfort," we'll lose our credibility as
Instructions written in second person are usually much more direct,
more concise, and clearer than the same passages written in third person.
These are three key objectives of good writing. (Number one is to
write for your audience.)
Whoever said technical writing is supposed to be easy or comfortable?
(The only people I hear saying that have never done a good job of it!)
It's hard work finding out what readers need and trying to deliver it.
But that's also the fun of the job-- you never have time to get bored.
Good technical communicators are flexible, perceptive about their
readers' needs, quick to adapt, willing to change, and eager to learn
new systems, processes, and approaches. (These are only a few of
their sterling qualities.) They strive to give their readers the most
accurate, readable, and usable documentation possible.
Unfortunately, in the real world there are a few writers who don't strive
for this. They may be too set in their ways, a little sloppy, or simply
lack the confidence to try new things. Managers should have high
standards, and should do their best to motivate and educate writers to do
their very best. Managers should encourage writers to use their minds and
creativity without compromising writing principles.
As a manager, I think anyone claiming to be a professional technical
writer who can't learn to write instructional material in the second
person should take your option C (find another job). Writing in
second person is not THAT difficult! (Of the 25+ writers I've managed
during the past eight years, not one couldn't learn to write
comfortably in second person.)
Kathlyn Auten kathlyna -at- dadd -dot- ti -dot- com
Product Documentation Manager
Design Automation Division -- Texas Instruments