Monday, September 21, 2009

A Simple Active/Passive Configuration Change To Reduce Downtime

Okay. 1472549010_d64a719594 It’s not what you think. By “Active/Passive”, I am talking about voice, and by “Downtime” I am talking about sleeping.

The Problem

When I started writing for Apress, one of the editors told me I needed to watch out for writing in the passive voice. He said that writing in the passive voice tends to put readers to sleep. My first thought was… “Great. I’m not an English Major. Now I have to worry about writing all this material and whether or not I am using the passive voice. Oh yeah, and how am I even going to know if I am writing in the passive voice anyway?” I am not going to get into the difference between the active and passive voice, but there is a good article here if you are interested.

The Solution

Now it’s time to get into the “Configuration Change” part of the title. Luckily, there is a setting in Word you can change that will put that nice little squiggly green line under any text that is written (oops that’s passive) you write in the passive voice.

Here is how you make the change in Word 2007.

Here is how you make the change in earlier versions.

Once you make the change, you can right-click on the underlined text and get a nice little suggestion just like you would with misspelled words.


In the above picture you can see that it recommended a completely new sentence for the first sentence. The phrase “has been known” makes the second sentence passive and you can rewrite the second sentence with the third sentence to remove the error.

I know this isn’t necessarily about SQL, but it is something that has helped me out a lot this year and wanted to share it.


Brian Tkatch said...

Another point is not to refer to the reader directly. It will make him put up a wall to what is written. This is especially important in instructions.

Hence, "is written" is better than "you write". So, basically, i disagree with your examples. :)