Re: gender issues and tech.write

Subject: Re: gender issues and tech.write
From: Win Day <winday -at- IDIRECT -dot- COM>
Date: Mon, 11 Dec 1995 17:45:59 -0500

At 02:36 PM 12/11/95 -0400, Greg Cento <greg -at- FOCUS-SYSTEMS -dot- ON -dot- CA> wrote
about gender-specific pronouns and how to avoid them.


>Basically, I do as much writing as I possibly can using the second person
>singular pronoun (actual or implied): "First you do this=8Athen you do
>that=8Atweak here=8Atwist there=8A" I find that this way I am able to avoid =
>he/she/they constructions that some find awkward and others find insulting
>(you know, that reverse discrimination/sexism song (grin)).


>Now for my technical writing question to the list: Do you make much use of
>"you" in your technical documentation? Have you run into limitations? What
>would those limitations be?

I use "you" as much as possible in user instructions. Most of the manuals I
write are geared for reinery operators, and they seem to appreciate reading
something that sounds like it was written just for them. Using "you" makes
the instructions feel more personal.

In engineering reports, my other major document type, I'll use the more
descriptive "the operators" or "the engineers" when I'm being specific, and
"they" when I'm being more general. I will not write gender-specific material.

Win Day
Technical Writer/Editor
Email: winday -at- idirect -dot- com

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