I’m definitely one who gets a ‘thing’ about things. They usually pass, but this one has stuck – and I’ve had enough.
I am sick of seeing ‘please note’ written everywhere, as if it’s some kind of call to action or highlighter of something important, and not just a lazy man’s way of saying THIS IS IMPORTANT without any pomp.
Take the car park payment machine in Basingstoke I saw the other day. It’s printed with plenty of information on the rules of the car park, how to pay and other information that is doubtless important for someone who has never used a car park before.
Below? Oh yes. “Please note: payment must be made before leaving the car park.”
As far as I know that has been the case in every single fucking car park I’ve ever been in. I wasn’t expecting someone to send on the bill, or to wait for the executor of my will to pay you what you’re owed.
If you’re telling me to note something then clearly that is because you expect me to ASSUME SOMETHING ELSE. I should only need to ‘note’ things that are unusual or odd.
So, henceforth, please note can be used but only where:
- The thing you are telling me is not something any rational human being should be able to tell anyway from general experience of life
- The piece of information does not just mean you don’t have to do your job properly. If you’re sick of saying it, perhaps the policy is wrong or illogical. Change it or tell people they should. Fight.
- At least three independent people have agreed that the piece of information is something that people might reasonably need to know
- You are not simply trying to draw attention to something in an otherwise informative piece of information. Adding ‘please note’ does not make me read it more.
And let that be the end of it.
header pic from: Austin Kleon