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I often read the word "siehe" as in "siehe Anhang" when the writer is using the Sie form. I assume this is an accepted standard, but I don't really understand why, since I would never write using the Sie form, e.g. "tippe die F2-Taste" sondern "tippen Sie bitte die F2-Taste".

So which of the following sentences is the best:

Das kann mit Formelfeldern gelöst werden, siehe bitte das Serverhandbuch, Seite 40.

or:

Das kann mit Formelfeldern gelöst werden, sehen Sie bitte das Serverhandbuch, Seite 40.

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2 Answers 2

up vote 10 down vote accepted

You're right that grammatically "siehe" is imperative singular of "sehen", but it's commonly used this way even in formal contexts, without "bitte". The same is true for the alternative "Vergleiche" / "Vgl.". It's not wrong to use "bitte" together with "siehe" or "vgl.", but it's completely uncommon. When formulating a complete sentence, as in Geziefer's answer, using "bitte" would be ok, but it isn't required.

"Siehe" or "vgl." is mostly used in writing, not in spoken language, and usually only to address an undetermined group of persons. When talking or addressing a certain person in a letter / E-Mail, i would prefer a formulated version, for example:

"Mehr zu dieser Frage finden Sie auf Seite 34 des Handbuches."

instead of

"Vergleiche das Handbuch, Seite 34."

Regarding the verb, using simply "sehen" isn't the best choice. "Nachsehen", "nachlesen", "nachschlagen", (ein Thema) "vertiefen" are nice alternatives.

The rule of thumb may be:

  • If addressing a certain person, don't use "siehe" or "vergleiche" but formulate a complete sentence.
  • If you don't address a certain person, using "siehe" of "vgl." (without "bitte") is completely fine. Some people may object that "vergleiche" is too abstract (especially in academic circles), and it would be better to clarify the cross-reference ("why should i compare XY to this?"). But i wouldn't care about this if except when writing a thesis in human sciences.
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The phrase

siehe Anhang

is something which is independent from the form of address and shows a relation to some other part of the document or some other document in a general way.

On the other hand, if this is part of a direction in a manual, where the reader has to do something, then using the formal addressing like

sehen Sie dazu im Anhang nach unter

would be correct.

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