The Use of Future Tense in Procedures

Subject: The Use of Future Tense in Procedures
From: TIMMERMAN <timmerma -at- IPDLINK -dot- IPD -dot- ANL -dot- GOV>
Date: Wed, 6 Nov 1996 13:50:34 CST

Hi All,

Much concern is given about writing procedures in the active vs. the
passive voice. So, what verb tense should be used when writing
procedures? I see alot of, "Press the ___ key. The ______ window
will appear on the screen." If I use the future tense, should I also
describe when the user can expecte to see the action? When will the
_____ window appear on the screen? Immediately, within five minutes,
tomorrow? When will it appear on the screen?

Or, should I write the procedure in the present tense, (i.e., Press
the ___ key. The ______ window appears on the screen.). Is one way
right and the other wrong, or is one preferred over the other? Does
anybody give a hoot?

Don Timmerman, dtimmerman -at- anl -dot- gov
Argonne National Laboratory
Senior Tech. Writer

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