Re: Numbers

Subject: Re: Numbers
From: John Posada <john -at- TDANDW -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 22 Dec 1998 10:45:32 -0500

Jason...funny...I asked the same thing privately; I just forgot to include the
list in the address. Basicly, I said that I think we've reached a knee-jerk
situation where, without knowing why, Active is good, Passive is bad. They both
have their place.

Besides...was my statement really passive and was his version really active?

If I written "Page 2 will be displayed when you press the OK button"...I'd
volunteer that this is However, just with the inclusion of the
word(s) "when" or "will be" does not automatically make my version passive, or
does it?

I just try to do two things when I write.

1) Use "Displayed" rather than "Appears" since nothing in our field just
"appears". Magicians make rabbits appear. Information is displayed. In fact,
monitors used to be called VDTs (Video DISPLAY Terminals)

2) Show the action, then show the results.

Jason Willebeek-LeMair wrote:

> <snip from Jonathan B. Horen>
> >
> >When you press the OK button, page 2 will be displayed, as shown in Figure
> >23-45 on page 23-400.
> Use ACTIVE voice, John. "...button, page 2 appears..."
> </end snip>
> Jonathan,
> Just curious, why is the passive voice evil in this circumstance? I would
> agree with you if (the other) John had originally said, "The OK button
> should be pressed to display...."
> But, "Press OK. Page 2 is displayed in the Fribbitz window" or just "is
> displayed" does not seem (to me, anyway) to add to the reader's cognitive
> load. In fact, it actually emphasizes what the user will see (page 2) when
> they press the button, and de-emphasizes whether it appears or is displayed.

John Posada, Technical Writer
Bellcore, where Customer Satisfaction is our number one priority
mailto:john -at- tdandw -dot- com mailto:jposada -at- notes -dot- cc -dot- bellcore -dot- com
phone(w) 732-699-3077 phone(h) 732-2910-7811
alpha-pager: 800-864-8444 pin 1857522
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My opinions are mine, and neither you nor my company can take credit for
"Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach him how to fish,
and he will sit in a boat and smoke cigars all day."
"The only perfect document I ever created is still on my hard drive."

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