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Re: empowering the user and traditional tech writing - style discussion

On Friday 01 September 2006 11:35, Karsten Wade <kwade redhat com> wrote:
> We need to discuss our writing style approach; I think it's too late for
> FC6, so we need to stick with what works for now.  But Paul W. Frields
> challenged me with the idea of empowering the user and having a specific
> style to support that.
> In traditional tech writing, we try not to use pronouns yet keep an
> active voice.  It makes for a cleaner writing, easier to translate, and
> has fewer assumptions implied about the reader, which helps to make it
> more accessible.  It also sounds less like marketspeak[1] and
> cheerleader-writing[2].
> However, a blanket rule to "never use 'you'" might be wrong.  At the
> least, we can discuss here what we want to do.  Perhaps we can break
> some new ground, or at least join the 21st century. ;-D

First, I'd like to point out that I haven't forgotten about the Style Guide, 
and I fully intend to consider this thread when I resume work on it.

I come from the camp of "never use 'you' unless engaging the reader 
directly" -- an approach that has served me well.  As I work on the Style 
Guide, I intend to make it an example of the best case scenario for technical 
writing and avoid "you" altogether, but some documents, particularly how-tos 
and FAQs, will take a slightly different style, where "you" might sometimes 
be appropriate.  Marketing materials, such as banners and flyers, are a whole 
different ballgame.  Their styles are very different from the technical 
documents but are something we will sometimes tackle.  I will try to cover 
some of the style variations in the Style Guide as it progresses.

Patrick "The N-Man" Barnes
nman64 n-man com



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