The discussion of first-person style in the previous chapter relates mainly to the writing of reports or papers; it is not so relevant to the writing of guides or manuals. A report or paper is essentially a personal statement made by one or more writers, albeit sometimes on behalf of a company or consultancy. In such a text, an entirely proper orientation for the writer(s) is to use I or we, giving a straightforward account of what he/she/they/the consultancy have found, think, or suggest. A guide or manual is an attempt by a writer (usually on behalf of a manufacturer or supplier) to offer a buyer or user information that will be helpful in the operation of a product, process, or service. It is rarely (if ever) appropriate for the writer or writers of a manual to speak personally to the readers. It is reasonable occasionally for the writers to use a first-person-plural style, when presenting suggestions on behalf of the company:

If you find that maintaining so many files is difficult to manage, we suggest that you…

but in descriptive and explanatory texts, even this is rarely appropriate. Tactics for writing descriptions, explanations, and instructions are discussed in detail in

Chapters 17 and 18. Here, I want just to discuss the general benefits of using a secondperson style (using you, your) in guides and manuals, instead of impersonal, passive style.