[Grammar] Omitting a verb (Manual redaction)

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onepac

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Hi, im my company we are writing a software manual and we have a doubt. First, I'll write the phrase

2.1 Enter a new participant
If a new participant, you should include it in the database before starting the session

What this phrase means is "if there is a new participant, you should include it in the database before starting the session". I think that the right way to write it is the second one, because the first one doesn't have any sense because there is no verb.

My colleague says that in manuals you can omit the verb but I don't think that is correct, because without the verb the sentence doesn't have no meaning to me.

Is that phrase right? Con we omit the verb?
 

Raymott

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Hi, im my company we are writing a software manual and we have a doubt. First, I'll write the phrase

2.1 Enter a new participant
If a new participant, you should include it in the database before starting the session

What this phrase means is "if there is a new participant, you should include it in the database before starting the session". I think that the right way to write it is the second one, because the first one doesn't have any sense because there is no verb.

My colleague says that in manuals you can omit the verb but I don't think that is correct, because without the verb the sentence doesn't have [STRIKE]no[/STRIKE] any meaning to me.

Is that phrase right? Con we omit the verb?
The first one (labelled 2.1) does have a verb - 'enter'.
The second (unlabelled) sentence is missing a verb in the first phrase.
If you mean "if there is a new participant, you should include it in the database before starting the session" why not write:
"If there are new participants, include them in the database before starting the session."
 

Rover_KE

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Your colleague is right. Instruction manuals omit unnecessary words for the sake of brevity. In your example the verb is 'you should include'.

I would even expect 'you should' to have been omitted.

Rover
 

onepac

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Thanks Raymott,

I think that your option is better and the one I prefer, but my colleague says that is correct to omit the verb "is" or "there is" in that phrase, but I don't see the meaning of the starting phrase "If a new participant". What I wanted to know is, is it right to write the phrase like that, with the "If a new participant"?
 

onepac

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Thanks Rover,

The problem is not wit the "you should" (I agree that we can omit that), the problem is that there is no verb at the starting phrase and I don't find correct to write "If a new participant" that my collegaue says it's right
 

Raymott

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Thanks Raymott,

I think that your option is better and the one I prefer, but my colleague says that is correct to omit the verb "is" or "there is" in that phrase, but I don't see the meaning of the starting phrase "If a new participant". What I wanted to know is, is it right to write the phrase like that, with the "If a new participant"?
NO, it is not correct. No native English person would write that - because it doesn't imply 'If there is a new participant'. It could mean "If a new participant complains ..." or anything.
Having said that, it's better than the ambiguity of entering a new participant.
 

onepac

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NO, it is not correct. No native English person would write that - because it doesn't imply 'If there is a new participant'. It could mean "If a new participant complains ..." or anything.
Having said that, it's better than the ambiguity of entering a new participant.

What would you suggest to resolve the ambiguity of "Enter a new paticipant"? If it helps, what we mean here is to introduce a new participant into the database, but we thought that "Enter a new participant" was shorter for the manual
 

BobK

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Your colleague is right. Instruction manuals omit unnecessary words for the sake of brevity. In your example the verb is 'you should include'.

I would even expect 'you should' to have been omitted.

Rover
Quite so; 'omit unnecessary' words. In my nearly 20 years as a technical writer I found that confusion about technical informetion was often caused by omission of words that were necessary (and, of course, the inclusion of words that weren't ;-)) But in the sentence 'If a new participant, you should include it in the database before starting the session', 'If a new participant' is dangling unless it means 'if you are a new participant' .

I'd say 'Make sure any new participants are in the database before you start the session.'

b
 
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SoothingDave

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If a new participant, you should include it in the database before starting the session

I would certainly read "If a new participant" to mean if I was a new participant.

It's not clear what "it" means here either.


 
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