Staying in the present

• Nov 21, 2023 - 01:15

Greetings, fellow obsessives 😉,

Here's a straightforward suggestion for simplifying MS's handbook: Replace future tense with present. This was often standard practice when I wrote for software companies.


> Once in note input mode, you will enter notes left to right by first selecting a duration


> Once in note input mode, enter notes left to right by selecting a duration


> When you apply a text element to the score, its anchor position will depend on the type


> When you apply a text element, its anchor position depends on its type

One may visualize future tense when writing, but it's rarely necessary, as most documentation describes ways software works, not specific instances of its use. It may not seem like a big distinction, but it's an easy way to simplify.

(In example 1, you'll note I've also removed "you", as it should be obvious we're not referring to, say, someone selling snowshoes in Minnesota; and in example 2 I've removed "to the score", as it should be obvious we're not adding text elements to, say, a crowbar or soufflé.)

I'll be glad to simplify verb tenses in the handbook where it obviously creates no ambiguity, but I thought I should run it by you first.

BTW, helpful writing principles like these are collected in Microsoft's "Manual of Style for Technical Publications" (…) and in MS's free online, up-to-the-minute Style Guide (…). As my mom would've said, "You don't have to reinvent a circular frame with spokes that rotates on an axle." Cheers!


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