Re: Use of Second Person

Subject: Re: Use of Second Person
From: "Hofer, Theresa M PL" <HoferTM -at- PO4 -dot- PL -dot- UNISYS -dot- COM>
Date: Mon, 18 Dec 1995 09:15:00 GMT

Recently as part of a discussion about the use of second person, K. Watkins

|Exception: If you are writing about a procedure which includes
|for several people, you may have to use third person. I recall a recent
|posting to this list (sorry, I've forgotten whose) saying that in these
|circumstances you should create separate instructions for each of them, and
|in general I heartily agree. However, you might still need some kind of
|overview. For instance:

|Instructions for the person in the lift:
| - Before the operator at the lower lift controls presses the OPEN button,
|you must unlatch the clasp on the gate.

|Instructions for the operator at the lower lift controls:
| - After the person in the lift unlatches the clasp on the gate, press the
|OPEN button.

|Overview of the procedure for a supervisor:
|Step 1. The person in the lift must unlatch the clasp on the gate.
|Step 2. The operator at the lower lift controls must press the OPEN button.

Another way of writing instructions for several people using the second
person is the "playscript" format. In playscript, your instructions are in
2 columns, the left column for the "actor" and the right column for the
"action." For example (I hope this attempt translates in everyone's mail):

Actor Action

Person in the lift 1. Unlatch the clasp on the gate.

Operator at the lower 2. Press the OPEN button.
lift controls

The advantages of this format are that the wording is much less cumbersome
and the steps are kept in logical order. The disadvantage, especially for a
long procedure with several actors, is that the actors have to pick out
their actions from the procedure. One way of overcoming that is to give
scripts to the actors with their own steps highlighted.

Theresa Hofer
TMHofer -at- po4 -dot- pl -dot- unisys -dot- com
Unisys Corporation
41100 Plymouth Road
Plymouth, MI 48170
My views are mine, not my employer's

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