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Subject: Re: [office] Question of writing style?

Hi all,

I got in contact with the technical writer that did some work on the
OpenOffice.org specification some time ago. I have asked her about our
"you can" style question and whether she thinks it is an issue for a
specification. That's what she said:

> Regarding the "you can" phrases, you are right in saying that I used
> the active voice such as "you can include" or "you can associate" in
> the rewrite that I did for the XML specification. As I recall, the
> original specification contained a lot of passive voice, such as "can
> be associated with", "can be included", and so on. The passive voice
> tends to be ambiguous, which is not a good thing in a specification,
> it is difficult to translate, and is more difficult for non-native
> readers to understand. The use of the active voice in technical
> documentation is indeed in line with all modern technical
> writing standards. As your specification is destined for an
> international audience, I would recommend that you retain the use of
> the active voice throughout the specification to retain the clarity of
> meaning.

I suggest that we continue the discussion of the topic in our con call
on Monday.

Best regards


David Faure wrote:
> On Sunday 14 November 2004 23:53, Patrick Durusau wrote:
>>Since I won't be on the call tomorrow I thought I should tender a few 
>>written comments about the 'you can' style question.
> (Same problem here)
>>It is not improper grammar but a question of the style one uses in 
>>writing technical standards.
>>I am not surprised that a native American introduced the phrase, most 
>>writing in the US being first person and bordering on the familiar.
>>Not that such a style is necessarily a bad thing, in the proper place 
>>but I would argue it is inappropriate in standards.
> My guess is that the person Michael refers to, was writing a user manual - Michael, is that correct?
> In a manual that explains how to use an application, using "you" seems perfectly fine to me.
> But indeed in a standard specification things are different, and it would be better to avoid using it.

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