Re: Use of voice in instructions

Subject: Re: Use of voice in instructions
From: Rick Lippincott <rjl -at- BOSTECH -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 21 Dec 1995 10:18:59 EST

Tom Potter seconded the use of imperative voice, adding:

>I've been doing this for 10 years with no problems. Of course, I started in
>this business writing military documents. As a matter of fact the military
>document requirements are for all procedure steps to be in the second person,

Tom is right.

It is interesting that so many people criticize the "Mil-Spec style" without
really knowing what the spec dictates. For example, Bob Morse's version
of "Twas the Night Before Christmas" as written by "the Government" was
funny, I enjoyed it....but I really don't see the connection between the
Mil-Specs and the style of writing in that piece. (But I'm keeping it

On the other hand, we've spent way too much time debating the gender issue,
and it's of course transitioned into a social debate. It's interesting to note
that the solution to this (as well as a number of other problems that come
up on the list) is right there in the Mil-Specs, as Tom pointed out. Second
person imperative voice.

For those on the list who are in the U.S. you might want to consider going
tothe Government Printing Office and obtaining a copy of a Mil-Spec that
covers publications. After all, if you're paying taxes to the U.S.
Government, you've paid for the development of those specs. You might
as well get some use from them.

Rick Lippincott
Boston Technology
Wakefield, MA
rjl -at- bostech -dot- com

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