Tense issue

Subject: Tense issue
From: Thomas Quine <thomas -dot- quine -at- NCOMPASSLABS -dot- COM>
Date: Sat, 26 Sep 1998 12:02:24 -0700

The consensus among those who replied to my earlier posting was that #1 was
preferable, on the grounds that the present tense is always preferable.

Which is better:
1. Click on the Postings button. The Posting dialog box appears.

1. Click on the Postings button. The Posting dialog box will appear.

Some comments, however.
Several people pointed out that "Click" was preferable to "Click on".
Several people suggested "Click the Postings button to view the Posting
dialog box." I want to argue that this is wrong, unless the intent of the
user is to view the Postings dialog box. In this case, the user doesn't
want to see the Postings dialog box, they want to create a posting.
To create a posting:
1. Click the Postings button. The Postings dialog box appears.
2. Click on the New Posting button, etc.

Some people argued that "appears" was a little too magical - should be "is
displayed." I've always felt the same way about the construction "Enter
your ID at the login prompt to invoke xyy program..."
I do want to argue, though, that there is a place for the conditional.
Saying "will appear" implies that IF you perform an action, in this case
clicking a button, a result will be displayed.
In some case it might not, such as:
Click the Members button. The Members list shows all current members.
There isn't necessarily a causal connection between the two.
- Thom

From ??? -at- ??? Sun Jan 00 00:00:00 0000=

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