Re: Passive/active voice in int'l documents

Subject: Re: Passive/active voice in int'l documents
From: Carol Atack <carol -at- ANT -dot- CO -dot- UK>
Date: Wed, 10 Apr 1996 09:40:10 +0100

At 11:43 am 10/4/96, Stuart Burnfield wrote:
>In my experience, English customers expect manuals to be more formal and
>conservative in tone and appearance than do US customers.

I have not noticed this trend (I'm based in England), although it could be
that my work has been for very different markets. Much of my work has been
aimed at education and home users and my clients have insisted on an
informal, engaging and unthreatening tone so that users feel empowered to
explore and use the software fully.

However, I suppose my 'informal' might very well be an American's 'stuffy'.
The only documentation I've used where I've been unhappy with the style of
writing and tone of presentation is RoboHelp, which I think other members
of this list have criticised. I found its jokiness painful to read. All the
other US-originated documentation I consult regularly as a user (Adobe,
Frame, Claris, Microsoft) seems about right to me, possibly a bit on the
stuffy side in some cases.

I have a long-term project with international users in the financial
services sector, and the client there found my passive-to-active rewrite of
the documentation an improvement, and so apparently did the users.

Carol Atack

Carol Atack
01223 518221 carol -at- ant -dot- co -dot- uk

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