Re: Computer instruction in the present tense

Subject: Re: Computer instruction in the present tense
From: "Susan W. Gallagher" <sgallagher -at- STARBASECORP -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 20 Jul 1995 17:15:41 -0700

Peggy Thompson wonders whether to write computer instruction
in the present or future tense...
(examples below, snip some text)

> When you press Restart, the system runs a self-test. If the
> system fails self-test, the processor does not reboot the
> operating system.

> vs future tense:

> When you press Restart, the system will run a self-test. If
> the system fails self-test, the processor will not reboot
> the operating system.

I write in present tense 95% of the time, figuring that the
user is doing the procedure *now* (in "real-time", shall we
say ;-) ) and expects to see the results *now* (as opposed
to tomorrow, next week, next year...). Every time I see "The
system will run a self-test..." the first thought that jumps
into my head is "when???"

About the only time I use future tense is when doing something
now affects another action "down the road a piece" -- and I
usually manage to write around that, too.

Sue Gallagher
sgallagher -at- starbasecorp -dot- com

"Bad spellers of the world -- UNTIE!" Tee shirt slogan ;-)


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