RE: Describing buttons and fields

Subject: RE: Describing buttons and fields
From: "Dick Margulis " <margulis -at- mail -dot- fiam -dot- net>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 4 Feb 2003 10:06:35 -0500

"Mike Hiatt" <mhiatt -at- vocaldata -dot- com> wrote:

Unfortunately, some of our field and checkbox names have lower case words in them.

There's nothing unfortunate about that, Mike. I like downstyle on the user interface, because otherwise it ends up having so many uppercase letters that it looks as if the page has measles.

However, this presents a dilemma: If you render the names of the controls in the manual or help text exactly the same as they appear on the interface (with lowercase initials), then you need to use an ugliness to make them stand out from the surrounding text (quotes, bold, italic, different font, underscore, whatever--not here to be picky about that). On the other horn, if you want to avoid the ransom note problem, you need to use initial caps in the text, thereby creating a situation where the words in the text do not exactly match the words on the screen (because of the difference in caps).

Here's how I resolve the dilemma (YMMV): I choose to avoid extraneous punctuation and frequent font breaks and go with the initial caps. My rationale is that text has to follow the style convention of the medium in which it appears. If I am quoting a British writer in an American publication, I transform all British punctuation and spelling to the American form (assuming I'm not writing about spelling and punctuation differences). This is normal editorial practice, just like adding or deleting the Oxford comma, abbreviating or spelling out state names, etc., to conform to the publication's stylebook. It does not constitute misquoting the author. (I might make an exception in the case of historical texts quoting original sources, but it would depend on the circumstance.)

So what I'm saying is that I trust the reader to figure out that the text transformation I apply to control names (using initial caps) does not mean I'm talking about a different button.

My two cents.



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