Windows Vista tone (was RE: Pet Peeves)

Subject: Windows Vista tone (was RE: Pet Peeves)
From: "Combs, Richard" <richard -dot- combs -at- Polycom -dot- com>
To: "Techwr-l" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 13 Feb 2007 16:04:11 -0700

Lauren wrote:

> What Microsoft is discussing sounds like guideline for
> marketing documentation or white paper. Use of "you" is
> important in marcomm where the owner of the document
> (Microsoft in this case) wants buy-in from the audience.

Nope. The link is to a topic in the Windows Vista User Experience
Guidelines (UXGuide). Its audience is developers creating applications
for Vista ("developers" in a broad sense, including interface designers
and help/manual writers). As the name suggests, its purpose is to
provide guidelines for all aspects of the user experience, from how to
lay out dialog boxes and toolbars to how to address the user.

Here are a few bullet items from "Text and Tone" that I liked:

* Use everyday words when you can and avoid words you wouldn't say to
someone else in person. This is especially effective if you are
explaining a complex technical concept or action. Imagine yourself
looking over the user's shoulder and explaining how to accomplish the

* Contractions lend a shorter, snappier, more conversational rhythm to
writing. Use them as appropriate and in context. Don't use contractions
with product names or other proper nouns.

* Address the user as "you," directly or indirectly.
* Use the second person (you, your) to tell users what to do. Often the
second person is implied.
Choose the pictures you want to print.
Choose an account (second person is implied).

* Strike the right balance: be warm toward the user without being too
intimate or too business-like. Imagine that you are helping a friend use
the product for the first time. This person is not your best friend or
significant other, but instead, a neighbor or family friend. Users
should feel comfortable and at home when using Windows, but the language
should not feel presumptuous or too familiar.

All of the above could have come right out of the style guide I wrote
several years ago. Especially the advice to write as you speak and to
adopt a tone that's friendly and informal, but not too close -- I
christened it "business casual" writing.


Richard G. Combs
Senior Technical Writer
Polycom, Inc.
richardDOTcombs AT polycomDOTcom
rgcombs AT gmailDOTcom


Create HTML or Microsoft Word content and convert to Help file formats or
printed documentation. Features include single source authoring, team authoring,
Web-based technology, and PDF output.

Now shipping: Help &amp; Manual 4 with RoboHelp(r) import! New editor,
full Unicode support. Create help files, web-based help and PDF in up
to 106 languages with Help &amp; Manual:

You are currently subscribed to TECHWR-L as archive -at- infoinfocus -dot- com -dot-

To unsubscribe send a blank email to
techwr-l-unsubscribe -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
or visit

To subscribe, send a blank email to techwr-l-join -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com

Send administrative questions to admin -at- techwr-l -dot- com -dot- Visit for more resources and info.


Previous by Author: RE: Rant continued from previous page (was Re: Another Word guruquestion)
Next by Author: RE: When you hear the Axe in the dark...
Previous by Thread: RE: Simple Word question
Next by Thread: RE: Windows Vista tone (was RE: Pet Peeves)

What this post helpful? Share it with friends and colleagues:

Sponsored Ads