Posted by: episystechpubs | September 3, 2015

Editor’s Corner: Passive Voice – Fixing Evasion 4

It’s lesson four from “5 passive-voice evasions and how to fix them,” by Josh Bernoff. Remember, these examples of passive voice are from a University of Massachusetts article about the city of Boston bidding for the 2024 Olympics.

#4 Has anybody done this?

Sometimes writers use passive when they have no idea who will actually do something.

· To date, using insurance to protect a host city from cost overruns has not been used extensively.

· As of this writing, no detailed funding plan [for moving the USPS facility] has been developed and it’s likely that the Commonwealth will seek significant federal funding.

How to fix: Be honest. Tell us that nobody has done these things.

· No one has ever insured an Olympics against cost overruns.

· There is no funding to move the facility; Massachusetts would need to fund it.

Writers beware: If you aren’t sure who did something or who is going to do something, ask!

When we see things like this:

· After the button is pressed…

· When the job is started…

· When the prompt is set…

First, we die a little inside. Second, we ask:

· Who is pressing the button? Your great aunt Tillie?

· Who or what started the job? Bob the cat?

· Who or what set the prompt? Your mom? A spontaneous power surge?

Be proactive (or Proactiv®) like the acne medicine. Ask questions and find out who did something before telling us what happened. It will help you avoid the passive voice.

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

619-542-6773 | Ext: 766773

Symitar Documentation Services

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