Re: Appears vs. displays?

Subject: Re: Appears vs. displays?
From: Chuck Martin <cwmartin -at- US -dot- ORACLE -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 17 Nov 1998 11:05:45 -0800

"Geoff Hart (by way of \"Eric J. Ray\" )" wrote:
> Michelle Vina-Baltsas asked for preferences on <<The imported
> information appears/displays in a table.>>
> There's nothing really wrong with "appears" in most cases, though
> there's a case against it for online information because "appears"
> neither explains "when" or "who or what caused it to appear". I don't
> like the use of "displays" either, because this doesn't follow the
> dominant usage pattern, namely that "X is the actor that displays
> Y"; in this case, the table displays the information, not vice versa.
> That analysis also suggests the solution: "The table displays the
> imported information."

I use appears as a general rule.

In most cases, I think the users won't care "who or what caused it to
appear." The "actor," in most cases such as this one, is the software,
and should be left out.

The "when" part should be clear from the sequence of instructions.

I'd use the "appears" in the original sentence. If necessary, I'd also
modify it to let the user know what kind of table the information was
appearing in.

Actually, "The table displays the imported information." wouldn't be
truly accurate; it's the hardware/software combination that's the agent
doing the displaying. The table is just the organizational
construct--which is another argument for the original sentence as it

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