RE: icons vs. buttons?

Subject: RE: icons vs. buttons?
From: "Lauren" <lt34 -at- csus -dot- edu>
To: "'Keith Hansen'" <KRH -at- weiland-wfg -dot- com>, <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 1 Aug 2007 11:29:06 -0700

Oooooo. I've seen fights over this. The consensus that "Click OK"
proponents seem to argue is that GUIs have been around long enough, so
people know what a button is. Proponents of the "Click the OK button"
school of thought like having unecessary words on paper. Well, I guess the
side I take might be a little evident. <I'm on the "Click OK" side, in case
it wasn't.>

Now there is an exception to every rule. At one gig, there were a number of
"click this..." conventions and assorted rules that went along with them. I
didn't keep a copy of their style guide, so I'll try to remember the rules.
No text buttons needed qualifications, so "Click OK" rather than, "Click the
OK button." (Although many documents needed corrections because of
disagreements early on between technical writers.) Links did require
qualifications so, "Click the <link> link." I recall that there was a rule
for something that didn't fit in the categories of links and buttons,
perhaps it was an icon or graphical button. So an instruction might be
something like, "Click the hand icon to stop the process."

I think that the application interface that is going through my head now
raises a number of style and rule issues. I can see why I have tried to
forget so much about that job. So here's an interface, it's gray with a lot
of blue and sometimes red text and graphics. It reminds me old Paradox
applications. The interface controls are text links, flat graphics (icons),
3D graphics (graphic buttons), and text buttons. Let's say that we have the
controls that follow.

* A link, "Configure and Build Report..."
* An icon for an authoritative web site that supports the app, like IRS.
* A button, "Run."
* A button represented with a hand graphic for stop.

Here's the instruction:

Click <link> to configure and build the report. Refer to <IRS> to get rules
about configuring the report. Click <run button> to run the report and
click <stop button> to cancel the request.

Never mind that there is a better way to build a GUI and just focus on the
four controls offset by angle brackets. What are the rules for documenting
the controls in the angle brackets? When do we need to say "click the
widget" and when can we just say "click"?


> -----Original Message-----
> From: techwr-l-bounces+lt34=csus -dot- edu -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
> [mailto:techwr-l-bounces+lt34=csus -dot- edu -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com] On
> Behalf Of Keith Hansen
> Sent: Wednesday, August 01, 2007 6:58 AM
> To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
> Subject: RE: icons vs. buttons?
> Janice wrote:
> <<Click the OK button (indicated by a thumbs-up icon).>>
> Let's assume the button does NOT have a thumbs-up icon. It
> just has the
> letters "OK" on it.
> Is it necessary to say "Click the OK button"?
> Or is just "Click OK" acceptable?
> What is the consensus?
> Keith


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RE: icons vs. buttons?: From: Keith Hansen

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