Re: Use of "You"

Subject: Re: Use of "You"
From: "Tim Altom" <taltom -at- simplywritten -dot- com>
To: "TechDoc List" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 29 Nov 1999 14:14:35 -0500

The major point isn't to use "you" or not, but to evaluate your audience
carefully and choose language that's appropriate. There are really no
always-never rules in communication. Much hangs on your perception of what
the user expects. "You" is becoming common today, probably driven by the
plethora of third-party computer books. Even five years ago, tech comm'ers
were eschewing "you", but today the language is often far less formal.
However, for an audience that may not have English as a first language, or
an audience that expects formality, by all means write around "you". For a
newbie, I'd suggest to you that this is a far more useful principle to keep
in mind than any "rule" you were ever taught...always write to your expected
audience. You can't go far wrong if you always keep a picture of your
expected user on your cubicle wall.

Tim Altom
Simply Written, Inc.
Featuring FrameMaker and the Clustar Method(TM)
"Better communication is a service to mankind."

> Hi all,
> Two of the instructors in my Tech Writing program at Northeastern Univ.
> "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.

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