Verbs Edit

Highlight: Use precise verbs to write clear, succinct sentences.

Use precise verbs to write clear, succinct sentences. Use active voice while writing documentation. Some exceptions for using passive voice can be made. For more information, see Voice.
Also, write in present tense rather than future tense. For more information, see Tense.

Verb forms in reference documentation

For writing reference documentation to explain a procedure, phrase the procedure in terms of what the action does, not what the user/developer would do. These forms of verbs are also used in glossaries and word usage dictionaries.
Usually, the only difference between the two verb forms is an -s at the end of the verb. An example of the verb without -s would be how most developers write git commits: Add new file.


Not recommended: do_action( 'activate_header' ) : Fire before the Site Activation page is loaded.

Recommended: do_action( 'activate_header' ) : Fires before the Site Activation page is loaded.

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Verbs as nouns

Don’t use verbs as nouns or nouns as verbs.

For more information, see Verbs as nouns.

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Moods of verbs

In general, use an indicative mood of verbs that convey a factual, friendly, and natural tone without being condescending towards the reader.

Types of verb moods

Mood Description Example
Indicative Expresses factual statements, questions, and assertions. The dashboard displays a relevant overview and summary of your website.
Conditional Expresses conditional statements; normally uses if/then. If you click the Preview button, you’ll see a preview of your page on the front-end.
Imperative Expresses a request, command, instructions, etc. Click Preview.
Subjunctive Expresses hypothetical, non-factual, or doubtful statements. You might need to click Preview.
Interrogative Expresses uncertainty, asks a question. Do you need to click Preview?

Avoid using subjunctive and interrogative moods while writing documentation. Any form of uncertainty, hypothesis is confusing for the reader. Don’t change moods within a sentence.

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