TechWhirl (TECHWR-L) is a resource for technical writing and technical communications professionals of all experience levels and in all industries to share their experiences and acquire information.
For two decades, technical communicators have turned to TechWhirl to ask and answer questions about the always-changing world of technical communications, such as tools, skills, career paths, methodologies, and emerging industries. The TechWhirl Archives and magazine, created for, by and about technical writers, offer a wealth of knowledge to everyone with an interest in any aspect of technical communications.
Subject:Re: Style question - pushbuttons From:"Susan W. Gallagher" <sgallagher -at- STARBASECORP -dot- COM> Date:Wed, 15 Feb 1995 14:55:35 -0800
Glenn Crumpley writes...
> We're trying to update our style guide. Currently, the action of activating
> a pushbutton is described in several ways. For example:
> Click on the OK button.
> Click on the OK pushbutton.
> Click once on the OK button.
> Select the OK buton.
First question, whether to use "Click", "Click On", or "Select"
for mouse actions on buttons. I haven't really kept up with MAC
documentation lately, so I don't know what the apple-world is
doing, but the trend in the windows-world is to "click". Even
MicroSquish has abandoned its ever-present "choose" for click
in the Win95 product. "Select" is rapidly headed in the same
direction as the dinosaurs.
Second question, is it OK, the OK button, or the OK pushbutton?
Pushbutton is an OS/2 term, and kinda old at that. In Windows,
they're command buttons. The ... button is ok to use when there
might be some confusion as to the element you're referring to
(e.g., if there's a Delete button and a Delete key), but more
and more frequently, minimalism wins out. Nobody wants to
read this stuff, so the fewer words we give 'em the better
they like it and "the" and "button" are two words that
usability studies find that the user can do without.
> Also, the text describing the button label (OK) is highlighted in various
> ways, such as:
> Currently, the style guidelines call for quotes on the button label. None
> of the current writers care for this convention and we will probably change
We don't generally bold button names, but some places do. The
big question is whether the additional emphasis on the button
name is worth the visual distraction of too much bold on a page.
How many other elements on the page are bold? Headings, menu
selections, computer voice, stuff to type??? That's pretty
much a matter of preference -- but be consistent.
Quotes around button names??? Naaahhh. To distracting for
my taste. Save quotes for when you really need 'em. Besides,
if you use quotes, you have to decide where to put the
punctuation -- and that opens up a whole different can 'o'
StarBase Corp, Irvine CA
sgallagher -at- starbasecorp -dot- com