Present tense: the ayes have it

Subject: Present tense: the ayes have it
From: Peggy Thomson <Peggy_Thompson -at- CCMAIL -dot- OSTI -dot- GOV>
Date: Fri, 21 Jul 1995 09:52:00 -0400

Yep, you're all present tensers, all right; at least, those of
you who responded to my query about the use of present tense vs.
future tense in computer documentation. Reasons?

(1) You figure users are working in real-time and need the
immediacy of present tense.

(2) Present tense requires fewers words and is more direct.

(3) Present tense distinguishes those actions happening on the
screen NOW from those that will happen later (a little or a lot)
and from conditional actions (IF you make this error, this WILL
HAPPEN).

NOTE: Even for truly future and conditional actions, some of you
die-hards cast your words to stick to the present tense. All of
you, however, admit exceptions when the situation demands
because you're good editors. :-)

Thanks for your replies! At my office we were writing in present
tense most of the time, but subconsciously. Now we can
standardize it.


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