What is the name of the style of writing, often seen in technical manuals and documentation, which avoids using the first, second or third person.

For example, if I were writing a manual on making a cup of tea, I would avoid both of the following

I tend to pour the water first, then remove the teabag and add milk.


You should pour the water first, then you should remove the teabag and add the milk.

In favour of the style:

The water should be poured over the teabag, removed, and then the milk should be added.

I am trying to write guidelines on using a specific writing style, but I do not know what to call this style of writing.

*For tea purists, I know it should be drunk without milk, as nature intended!

  • 1
    Your second example, "you should," is second person; he, she, they is third person. What you mean is avoiding active voice (I/you/he/they/etc. pour water) and used passive voice instead (the water is poured).
    – Jacinto
    Mar 9, 2016 at 9:52
  • @Jacinto thank you, that's pretty much my answer. If you want to post it as such.
    – Jamiec
    Mar 9, 2016 at 9:57

1 Answer 1


This is the passive voice

The passive voice is a grammatical construction (specifically, a "voice"). The noun or noun phrase that would be the object of an active sentence (such as Our troops defeated the enemy) appears as the subject of a sentence with passive voice (e.g. The enemy was defeated by our troops).

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.