Re: Grammar Question: Ensure or Make

Subject: Re: Grammar Question: Ensure or Make
From: Rose Wilcox <RWILC -at- FAST -dot- DOT -dot- STATE -dot- AZ -dot- US>
Date: Fri, 27 Oct 1995 13:44:00 PDT

Bill writes:

Hi, yourself! :-)
>Should I use:
>"Make sure that you are off-line prior to selecting this option."
>"Ensure that you are off-line prior to selecting this option."

I don't think it makes much difference. Pick the one you like the best. I
like "make sure" the best; in my opinion, it sounds less stuffy... BUT
*definitely* say "before" instead of "prior to".

The usual ensure battle is between insure, ensure, and assure. All three
words mean the same thing, but they have different connotations.

>Also, is there such a thing as a writing style that must be used whenever
>Windows PC software products are being documented? This developer claims
>that this Windows PC software product writing style is MUCH different than
>writing style I'm supposed to use when documenting an IBM Mainframe product
>or even a Macintosh software product.

Nothing in this world *must* be done, grasshopper. (Sorry I was just
teasing one of our writers here by calling her grasshopper, now it's gone
and stuck....)

There are different style guides from IBM, MS, and Apple. Sometimes
different diggie-boppers on the screen-thingies are called specific names by
these companies. Sometimes sticking to those names can be helpful, and
sometimes using those specific names can be confusing to the reader, since
they can be real "techie". The controversy over what to call a window and
what to call a dialog box rages on, for instance. So for now, it's
writer's discretion.

Other than names for windows, dialog boxes, and other screen elements, style
is style is style.

Being consistent with yourself and knowing your audience are the two
hallmarks of quality in these cases. Do your research and stick to your
guns with those developers. It's good that they care about the
documentation, though I'm sure it's difficult fending off these feuding
opinions. Remember, the ultimate decision must rest with the tech doc
team, guided by the principles of good writing within the limitations of the
specific business needs.

Rose A. Wilcox
rwilc -at- fast -dot- dot -dot- state -dot- az -dot- us
ncrowe -at- primenet -dot- com
"...There's never only _one_ explanation," said the rather small
gentleman. "It depends on which one you want to believe! _I_ believe in
believing six impossible things before breakfast, myself." -- Edward Eager,
_Half Magic_

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