TechWhirl (TECHWR-L) is a resource for technical writing and technical communications professionals of all experience levels and in all industries to share their experiences and acquire information.
For two decades, technical communicators have turned to TechWhirl to ask and answer questions about the always-changing world of technical communications, such as tools, skills, career paths, methodologies, and emerging industries. The TechWhirl Archives and magazine, created for, by and about technical writers, offer a wealth of knowledge to everyone with an interest in any aspect of technical communications.
Subject:Re: You, you, you . . . From:Marie Clear <Mclear3000 -at- AOL -dot- COM> Date:Tue, 12 Dec 1995 12:27:00 -0500
In a message dated 95-12-11 19:42:58 EST, srm -at- C2 -dot- ORG (Richard Mateosian)
>>Do you make much use of "you" in your technical documentation?
>>Have you run into limitations?
>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
Actually, if you always keep sight of your audience, you should
never have "you" problems. For example, if you're addressing
system administrators, you should only use "you" to literally tell
the administrator what to do. If you need the administrator to
understand what a system user should do, then you have to say
"the user." I've written admin guides and user guides both, and
never had problems (unless I forgot who the audience was, which
is remarkably easy in a long technical text).