Re: appears vs is displayed

Subject: Re: appears vs is displayed
From: Jerry Kindall <kindall -at- MANUAL -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 26 Mar 1997 14:16:52 -0500

On 03/26/97 01:00 AM, "Robin M. Allen" <robin -dot- m -dot- allen -at- WORLDNET -dot- ATT -dot- NET>

>"Click Add and the Add Patient window is displayed."
>"Click Add and the Add Patient window appears."
>Even though it uses the passive voice, I personally prefer "is
>displayed." To me, "appears" sounds like it happens through magic. Any

Well, it DOES happen through magic, doesn't it? Aren't computers
sufficiently advanced technology to be indistinguishable from magic by
most of their users? ;)

My own style is to use "appears," and I've not had any complaints. (On
the other hand, passive voice is one of my biggest peeves.) I also tend
to make sure that the action the user performs is in a different sentence
from what the program does as a result. In fact, it's often on a
different line in a different typeface! I might write your example like

1. Click the Add button.

The Add Patient window appears.

Here I might put additional explanatory material about the window

In many of my manuals, the line containing the numbered step is in a bold
sans-serif font (I like Futura or Gill Sans), while the text under the
step is in the same serif font as the rest of the book's body text
(Palatino or Garamond, usually).

Jerry Kindall <kindall -at- manual -dot- com>
Manual Labor <>
Technical Writing; Internet & WWW Consulting

Author of the Web Motion Encyclopedia
The comprehensive animation and video reference for Web designers
Coming Summer '97 from Waite Group Press

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