Re: Use of "You"

Subject: Re: Use of "You"
From: John Wilcox <jwilcox -at- tcsi -dot- com>
To: TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 29 Nov 1999 09:37:50 -0800

Joanne Meehl wrote:

> Two of the instructors in my Tech Writing program at Northeastern Univ. say
> "NEVER use 'you' in technical documentation". They don't mean the writer
> should eliminate the implied "you", as in "Click the right mouse button".
> They just don't like the sound of "you"--they say it's too casual or
> familiar.

I suppose they say never use active voice, too.

When writing user guides, I am writing directly to the user, not to a
third person. Therefore, I address him in the second person. When
writing a system administrator guide, I use "you" when speaking of the
reader (the sysadmin) and "the user" when speaking of the end user of
the system if that is someone other than the sysadmin. I believe this
is both logically and practically correct.

I would like to know your instructors' reasoning.


John Wilcox -- Senior Technical Writer
TCSI Corp. -- Bothell, WA 425-487-8594

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