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>In the world of Standards, we follow standards (metastandards?) set by
>like ISO. We have key words. The words "must," "shall," and "will" denote
>that are mandatory. The words "should" and "may" denote things that are
In addition to ISO standards, there are legal implications. The words shall,
might, and may have very specific legal meanings, especially in Requests for
Proposals, bids, and contracts.
If you are writing such documents, check with your legal staff when you
I don't think user manuals require as much restriction to meet legal
However, for warnings and cautions, you often need these words for accuracy.
"Caution: You may loose data if you select the Faster Integrity option and
failure occurs while data is being processed."
"Caution: You will loose data if you accidently type "del a*.* " instead of
In the first case, it is possible that the power failure can occur at a time
data has already been processed and saved.
In the second case, DOS *will* erase your autoexec.bat file and other files
you are working from the C drive on a DOS machine, as is the context for
In body text and procedures, edit those extra words. If deleting the word
linguistically changes the meaning, put it back in.
Similarly, I'd like to get opinions on using "the foobar menu is displayed"
"the foobar menu appears."
My training and experience with PCs tells me that novices are often
by computers, and that "appears" is too much like magic. While "is
passive, the reader does not need to know who/what displays the menu.