Re: Passive voice -- a story

Subject: Re: Passive voice -- a story
From: Jane Bergen <janeb -at- ANSWERSOFT -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 26 Jan 1996 13:50:52 +0000

> I once wrote an entire manual in passive voice. (gasp!)

> (snip)

> After reviewing the first two chapters, my boss (an excellent
> tech writer) and I agreed that anyone would go batty trying to
> read the thing -- even a couple of paragraphs of it -- with
> this repeated element. Therefore, we decided after much thought
> to rewrite in passive voice. [The input number is validated. If
> the number is not valid, an error message appears. If the
> number is valid, the next unused index number is retrieved and
> assigned to the record...]

> In the end, we felt comfortable that we had made the best
> choice. Anyone else ever done this? Or chosen another route for
> the same type of task?


> Emily Skarzenski

Yes. In fact, I'm struggling with an entire manual on scripting that
one of our engineers wrote. He wrote it almost entirely in passive
voice, which made me nuts. I tried to eliminate it where it makes
sense to do so, but overall it's better left alone.

Here's what I was up against:

"All operators on the same line are evaluated from left to right. All
operations on a line higher than the line on which an operator is
found are evaluated before the operator. To ensure the precedence
order of evaluation, use a parenthesis ( "( )") to around the
expression."

So who is doing the "evaluating" here? Not the person writing the
script, not the "system" - - - maybe the "script" but it would, as
you say, get tiresome to read, "The script does this. The script does
that" over and over and over. I eventually gave up. The author of
this document was an engineer writing for other engineers. End of
story.

Jane Bergen
...............................................................
Jane Bergen, Technical Writer
janeb -at- answersoft -dot- com or janeb -at- airmail -dot- net
"The difference between the right word and the
almost right word is the difference between lightning
and the lightning bug" (Mark Twain)
...............................................................


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