I am drafting a nonfictional manuscript that, not being about me, seldom refers to me. I do nonetheless appear in the manuscript, though—or at any rate my perspective explicitly emerges—a few times, as for example in this instance:

The writer lacks a preference between [A] and [B].

Many writers would rather put such a sentence in the first person but my manuscript is to avoid the first-person singular in instances like this.

Question: can I vary the word choice in the following way?

Your author lacks a preference between [A] and [B].

Or is such a word choice likely to confuse my readers? And even if it is not likely to confuse, is it just too offbeat? Why, please?

My manuscript is not a thesis, report or petition. Thus, my audience are not my superiors. Cheek for the mere sake of cheek would be distracting, but I can very slightly color the prose without inconsistency of tone.

The manuscript is neither about authors nor about things authors write, so no other author is mentioned nearby. Citations are footnoted to support facts but, in the passage in question, cited works are not quoted or otherwise discussed. Thus, no other author is in play.

Can I be "your author" in this instance?

  • 2
    Not an answer per se, but when these questions come up it's always a good idea what tricks civil servants have come up with.
    – JJJ
    May 1, 2019 at 1:40
  • Using "your author" or "this author" (or "the writer") can be confusing when the context is such that the intent is unclear.
    – Hot Licks
    May 1, 2019 at 2:19
  • @HotLicks If I understand, "your author" is not necessarily better or worse than the other options. It depends on context. Is this right?
    – thb
    May 1, 2019 at 2:26
  • 2
    This writer has a preference for first-person references.
    – tchrist
    May 1, 2019 at 2:55
  • 1
    If you still have time, see writing.stackexchange.com/q/12472
    – thehole
    Jun 2, 2019 at 17:35

1 Answer 1


I would use yours truly as a more familiar construct to refer to myself while avoiding the first person.

  • 3
    Yuck. I would throw in the bin any formal document that used yours truly instead of your author. Yours truly should only appear in letters and other personal messages, and even then, preferably not. May 1, 2019 at 8:36
  • 1
    @Chappo I don't see where it's mentioned that it's a formal document. yours truly, IMHO, satisfies the requirements of avoiding the first person while being the least likely to confuse or distract, meanwhile only slightly coloring the prose.
    – thehole
    May 1, 2019 at 16:41

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