For status messages such as the one you cite below, I think using "please" is 
perfectly okay.  

I also agree with omitting words that add nothing to the meaning of the 
sentence; however, the use of "please" can convey a specific and useful tone.  
It's not inappropriate for a status or feedback alert message.  

That said, if in a distinct case we are directing the user to perform a 
specific action  (procedural documentation), it's true we don't want the tone 
to sound as if we are begging.

"Please back up your configuration file before you edit it."  (Too soft, sounds 

"Back up your configuration file before you edit it."  [Period.]

Rules are good, but who hasn't said "first you learn the rules...and then you 
learn to break them [in exceptional cases]"?  --E.B. White himself might have 
uttered this once or twice.

-----Original Message-----
From: on behalf of Andersen, Verner Engell 
Sent: Fri 6/26/2009 4:30 AM
To: framers at
Subject: OT: Use of "please" in technical documentation and messages on screen

Once I learned that you shouln't use the word "please" in technical
documentation - that it was like asking the reader to do you favor.

Does this still hold true? Is it OK to have this message displayed on
the screen of our user interface? 

"We are updating the result list, please wait"

Best regards,


Radiometer Medical ApS 
Akandevej 21 
2700 Bronshoj 
Phone: +45 38 27 38 27 
CVR: 27 50 91 85 


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