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Even though the 3rd edition of the American Heritage Dictionary (bound, c.
1992) now considers display an intransitive verb when pertaining to
computers, the practice at Jacobus is to consider the action (the display of
something on the computer screen) as more important than the actor (the
computer) so we violate the general rule of always using active voice and
use a passive sentence construction:
" the such and such dialog box is displayed."
This avoids both the magical impression of the verb appears and the
controversal and very modern use of the display as an intransitive verb.
As for passive voice, according to my references, it is appropriate when the
writer wants to emphasize the action. Usually in a list of procedures, the
reader has a good understanding when the machine is doing the action and
doesn't need to be reminded of this by the continual use of active voice.
partial text from the American Heritage online version of 3rd edition, (ver.
3.6p, c. 1994):
dis·play (d¹-spl³?) v. dis·played, dis·play·ing, dis·plays.
--tr. 1.a. To present or hold up to view. b. Computer Science. To provide
(information or graphics) on a screen. 2. To give evidence of; manifest. 3.
To exhibit ostentatiously; show off. 4. To be endowed with an identifiable
form or character. 5. To express, as by gestures or bodily posture. 6. To
spread out; unfurl.
--intr. 1. Computer Science. To provide information or graphics on a screen.