Re: Typographical treatment of GUI components

Subject: Re: Typographical treatment of GUI components
From: "Chuck Martin" <cm -at- writeforyou -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Sun, 13 Jul 2003 21:51:00 -0700

"David Chinell" <dchinell -at- msn -dot- com> wrote in message news:205915 -at- techwr-l -dot- -dot- -dot-
> Does anyone have any information to support (or not) bolding
> GUI component names in printed reference manuals or Help
> systems?
I can't point to research, but I do know the conventions I have learned to
follow (unless I am working where the local style guide directs otherwise).
But the conventions I tend to follow have generally been the same as the
style guides that have been developed by experienced technical
communicators. Interestingly, it is an issue that was recently raised where
I am working now by the client (a VP).

Put simply, I do use bolding, but only within procedures, and only the items
that users take action on. So an instruction that says "Click OK," the "OK"
is in bold. But in something like "On the Orientation tab, click Landscape,"
I would bold just "Landscape."

Any GUI widgets mentioned in any text that isn't part of a procedure I don't

Typically, when readers are looking for guidance, their eyes are often drawn
first to the heading style that they know defines the beginning of a
procedure. If they are scanning, as readers often do, then the bolding of
the specific items they act upon in the procedure should attract the eye the
most; they are the critical items in the procedure.

I suppose there may be research in the various journals that may or may not
back up this belief. But from what I know about HCI and psychology, this
makes sense. I have never been in a position where I've had the time or
resources to actually test this against other alternatives.

Chuck Martin


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