Re: appears vs is displayed

Subject: Re: appears vs is displayed
From: Bill Burns <BillDB -at- ILE -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 25 Mar 1997 09:08:00 -0700

>>Even though it uses the passive voice, I personally prefer "is
>>displayed." To me, "appears" sounds like it happens through
>>magic. Any
>I agree. We are not pulling a rabbit out of a hat. Neither does
>anything disappear. It closes. Why not just: "Click Add. The Add
>Patient window displays."

Ships appear on the horizon. Planets appear in various regions of the
nightime sky. Actors appear in TV series and movies. Police and
firefighters appear on the scene. Either our world is filled with some
pretty mysterious supernatural forces, or the term "appears" has a
number of different connotations--one of which does not include the

The choice here is a matter of preference. I've always avoided using
"display" as a transitive verb, but since I've been desensitized to its
intransitive usage in software documentation, the hair on the back of my
neck no longer stands on end when I encounter it.

I appear to have made my point, so I'll now disappear.

Bill Burns
Technical Writer
billdb -at- ile -dot- com

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