Re: Numbers

Subject: Re: Numbers
From: John Posada <john -at- TDANDW -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 22 Dec 1998 13:19:23 -0500

> Why? Because the style guides pretty much agree that active voice is preferable.
> Because active voice tends to make readers feel like they're reading instructions,
> rather than history.

> Nonsense. Look up the word "display" in a dictionary - it's defined as a
> transitive verb, thus requiring an object. If you want to run the risk of having
> your company gain a reputation for printing ungrammatical manuals, go right ahead.
> But I think there will be plenty of folks who disagree with you. As for "appears"
> having magical connotations, think of what happens when you open a door: the rest
> of the world appears, not by magic, but because you did something that caused the
> view to change. And of course it's Video Display Terminals - they display
> information. (Note that "they display information" uses the grammatically correct
> form of "display" - with the object "information.")

> John, if you want to quibble with the rules of English grammar, there are other,
> considerably more appropriate places to do so. Having a personal preference for

Sorry, Elna...sometimes rules need to be fact, they ALWAYS need to be
re-examined. They may prove to be valid and they may need to be modified or changed.
My audience (hard-core techies) don't walk around with a dictionary. They walk around
with a subset of very specific terms, terminology and phrases in their head. Right or
wrong, I need to write to that subset of information. After all, I'm not writing for
my 8th grade English teacher...I'm writing for people that submit document content in
the form of programming structure. Following is an example of document input from one
of my developer's and I had to translate it to English:

From the AIX Shell:

1. date #checks the current system date

if (1) is correct done
otherwise if (1) not correct do
format to correct date is date mmddHHMMyy
e.g. date 1112141398 will set the date to Nov 12 14:13 1998
yy values in the range of 69-99 refers to the 20th century
yy values in the range of 00-68 refers to the 21st century
This will set the date accordingly.

Sometimes you must loose the battle to win war.

Also, in the context of this discussion, I think this is a perfectly acceptable forum
to discuss how technical information should be presented. I know, based on this
discussion, that I will keep a number of points in the back of my teeny-tiny
tech-writing brain the next time I rework instructions.

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
email pager: mailto:1857522 -at- pagemart -dot- net
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."

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

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