Three error message style ideas Re: Style guide for error messages?

Subject: Three error message style ideas Re: Style guide for error messages?
From: Loretta Weiss-Morris <loretta -at- panix -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 4 Feb 2003 14:00:32 -0500 (EST)



Hi:

I can't point you to a style guide for error messages but on my website is
a free archive of hundreds of tips for trainers, all of which have been
contributed by trainers and instructional designers from around the world.
(the home page is http://QuickTrainingTips.com and just follow the link
from the home page to "Quick Training Tips")

In the the part of the archive for 1999-2000 is the following Tip, which
offers good advice for anyone creating user-friendly error messages.
Hope you find it helpful:

DESIGNING ONLINE HELP? BE SURE YOUR ERROR MESSAGES INCLUDE THESE
THREE CRITICAL ELEMENTS. An error message should tell users the steps
needed to recover, not just announce that they've got a problem.

Every error message should include these three pieces of
information:
1. What the user did.
2. Why it wasn't correct.
3. What to do to correct it.

Here's an example of a good error message:

"You entered a start date later than the end date. The
start date must be earlier than the end date. Check the dates and
re-enter."

Here's an example of a poor one:
"Invalid dates."

Tip contributed to the QTT archive by:
Susan Weinschenk, Ph.D.
Edgar, WI

Best regards,
Loretta Weiss-Morris
http://QuickTrainingTips.com

On Tue, 4 Feb 2003, Steve Rudman wrote:

>
> I'm looking for a style guide for error messages (covering text but
> could also be UI/presentation). Thanks in advance for any pointers to
> relevant docs or information.

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