User guide?

Subject: User guide?
From: geoff-h -at- MTL -dot- FERIC -dot- CA
Date: Fri, 28 Feb 1997 13:32:35 -0600

This is always a tough one. The answer mostly depends on
what you actually want to say. Strictly speaking:

- a guide for users: a Users' guide (possessive form of
users)
- a guide for _the_ user: a User's guide (possessive form
of user)
- a guide on (how to use?) Users: a User guide (adjectival
form, in the same sense as field guide, installation guide)

I lean towards the middle option, since most often one user
at a time will use the guide; you might prefer "users" for
networked help files or software intended to be shared in a
busy office. In practice, any of the three alternatives is
correct, since even the last one is in common use, and when
popular usage fights with strict grammatical rules, usage
usually wins in the eyes of the readers. (This is not an
attempt to justify sloppy writing, but rather a note that
sometimes you have to use the language of your audience
even if it's not your first choice.)

--Geoff Hart @8^{)} geoff-h -at- mtl -dot- feric -dot- ca
Disclaimer: Speaking for myself, not FERIC.

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