RE: Typography for gui items

Subject: RE: Typography for gui items
From: "McLauchlan, Kevin" <Kevin -dot- McLauchlan -at- safenet-inc -dot- com>
To: Sarah Lee Hauslinger <slhauslinger -at- gmail -dot- com>, Richard L Hamilton <dick -at- rlhamilton -dot- net>
Date: Tue, 28 Feb 2012 10:28:13 -0500



> -----Original Message-----
> From: techwr-l-bounces+kevin -dot- mclauchlan=safenet-inc -dot- com -at- lists -dot- techwr-
> l.com [mailto:techwr-l-bounces+kevin.mclauchlan=safenet-
> inc -dot- com -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com] On Behalf Of Sarah Lee Hauslinger
> Sent: February-27-12 8:13 PM
> To: Richard L Hamilton
> Cc: techwrl
> Subject: Re: Typography for gui items
>
> On Mon, Feb 27, 2012 at 4:53 PM, Richard L Hamilton
> <dick -at- rlhamilton -dot- net> wrote:
> > Does anyone have any suggestions for typographically distinguishing
> gui items like buttons or menu items in printed documents?
> >
> > Right now, we don't distinguish them, but I've got a book that uses
> them pretty heavily. In addition, many of them in this book are common
> words that could be confused with their meaning as a word. So, I'm
> considering doing something typographical to set them apart.
>
> We typically format GUI items in the bold weight of the font we use
> for body text, which is the convention recommended in several style
> guides, including Microsoft. Although Sun recommends using an unbolded
> font and capitalizing, IMO bolding enhances clarity because it lessens
> the chance of confusion.

In some fonts, and in some lighting conditions, bold is not all that
distinctive, the more-so if you have several instances in a sentence.

I like the convention that I adopted years ago, and at least one
other writer on this list has advocated - Start and end the button
or menu item name with square brackets.

It makes it look vaguely like a button [ Next ], [ Cancel ],
[ Save as... ], [ Eliminate all free radicals ],
and it's likely to be unlike other conventions you have used in
your document.

Short buttons could be included in-line, while more verbose
items from menus could still be bracketed, but -

[ Would always appear alone on a new line ]
[ Compensate for clock drift ]
[ Print the middle two thirds of page without context ]

On the other hand, if you do have recurrent use of square brackets
for some other purpose, then this is not so useful for GUI bits.

Maybe you could combine the square brackets with shading/highlighting
of the included text. Everything inside the brackets gets a light-gray
background, perhaps.

-k



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Follow-Ups:

References:
Typography for gui items: From: Richard L Hamilton
Re: Typography for gui items: From: Sarah Lee Hauslinger

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