Most handbooks and other forms of technical documentation consist of description, explanation, and instructions. They contain little theoretical analysis, evaluation, argument, or expression of opinion. There is little natural call for the personal constructions suited to debate and evaluation. The most suitable style for most handbooks and technical documents is therefore likely to be impersonal. But to say the style should be impersonal is not to say it should be ponderous and dull. To write impersonally does not necessarily require use of a passive, roundabout style:


Expository writing can be clear, lean, and vigorous. For example, compare and contrast the two versions of a description below. The ‘better’ version is lucid and readable. Its sentences are of varied length, but on average they are short and not complex. Verbs are mainly active, and the vocabulary is ‘plain’ but accurate. It illustrates the cumulative benefits of writing directly and actively:

Not: In so far as the carriage of current is concerned this is achieved through the medium of busbars.