Re: You, you, you . . .

Subject: Re: You, you, you . . .
From: "Brad Barnes (T)" <blb -at- FORMTEK -dot- COM>
Date: Mon, 11 Dec 1995 20:19:20 -0500

The original question was:
> >Do you make much use of "you" in your technical documentation?
> >Have you run into limitations?

Mr. Mateosian replied:

> Yes. Yes.

> Suppose you're writing a manual for system administrators, and you want to
> tell them what users are expected to do in a certain situation. If you refer
> to both the system administrator you're addressing and the user that you're
> talking about as "you," you're likely to confuse your reader. ...RM

> Richard Mateosian President, Berkeley STC
> Freelance Technical Writer srm -at- c2 -dot- org Review Editor, IEEE Micro
> ------------

My reply to Mr. Mateosian's comment:

What I perceive in Mr. Mateosian's comment above is confusion about who the
audience is.

If I'm writing a manual for system administrators, then the system administrator
is my audience, NOT some other users. I would never refer to these other users
in the second person in a system administrator's manual! If I had to refer to
other users in a system administrator's manual, then I would refer to them in
the third person. Simple as that.

Instructions and procedures for other users belong in a user's guide of some
sort, not in the system admin manual.

Brad Barnes
Technical Writer

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