We've recently been reading some E.B. White books to our kids (Charlotte's Web 
and The Trumpet of the Swan) and I note that White has no practical respect for 
his own rules.

I avoid "Please" in instructional documentation. The reader knows what to 
-- you're telling him or her how to make the product go, and the writer can 
venture forth from the indicative-mood explanations to imperative-mood commands 
without fear of offense. Cookbooks, for example, aren't lousy with "please," 
would look downright weird if they were.

I would not dismiss such small courtesies out of hand for user interfaces, 
however, because users and readers have different expectations. In an 
instruction from documentation, the writer is not burdening the reader, and the 
word "please" just lards up the sentence. When a computer application burns a 
few billion cycles and a few read-writes to disk working on a problem, however, 
it introduces a delay that importunes the user. Because the application is 
begging the user's indulgence while it does its work, it is in no position to 
bark out orders. In this instance, manners, even robotically generated ones, 
entirely appropriate.


Andersen, Verner Engell VEA wrote:
> Hi
> 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,
> Verner

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