Active Voice

Active verbs make your sentences direct and easy to read, while passive verbs can make sentences confusing.

Use passive voice only in case you do not know who or what the subject of a sentence is. Even though you must know every component of the workflow when describing a technical concept, passive voice is acceptable in the following situations:

  • Using active voice sounds like you are blaming the user. You can use passive voice in an error message or troubleshooting content when the active subject is the user.
  • The subject of the action is unknown, or you want to de-emphasize the subject and emphasize the object on which the action is performed.
  • Recasting the sentence in active voice is wordy or awkward.

To learn more about the difference between active and passive voice, see this Grammarly article.


  1. The .zip file should be downloaded.

Download the .zip file.

  1. If the build fails, you probably missed a bug.

If the build fails, a bug could have been missed.

  1. The product, OS or database returns the messages to the user.

The messages are returned to the user.

  1. In 2009, engineers developed a software that simplifies the installation.

A software that simplifies the installation was developed in 2009.