Re: Choosing a menu option

Subject: Re: Choosing a menu option
From: Chuck Martin <cmartin -at- SEEKERSOFT -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 12 Aug 1997 12:51:04 -0700

From the Create menu, choose Message.

I generally would emphasize "Message," typeically by bolding.

The "Choose Message from the Create menu" suggestions have the draw back
that the user follows the sequence of the sentence. The user has to go all
the way through the sentence to see that it's the Create menu that must be
opened, then go back to see what item to choose. By putting the items in
the order of action (the user first chooses which menu, then chooses and
item from the menu), the sentence is kept in the order of user action.

This can be amplified in the case of the often-overused and frequently poor
design submenu structure:

Choose Message, then New, then Standard Template from the Create menu.


From the Create menu, choose Message, then New, then Standard Template.

In the first, where does the user choose message from? You don't know until
all the way at the end of the sentence.

BTW, in the "From the menu, choose Create - Message" example, from *what*

To be fair, some people have adopted a visual shorthand for chooseing menu
commands. I have often seen it something like this:

"Choose Create > Message." (Or, in my longer example, "Choose Create >
Message > New > Standard Template.")

This syntax contains an implicit assumption that the user knows that we're
talking about menus and commands here. If the user does understand this,
the shorthand may work as well for selecting menu commands. I have an idea
it may not work as well for novice users. I know of no studies that would
confirm or refute that assumption, however.

>Which would you use to describe how to choose a menu option:
>"From the menu, choose Create - Message."
>"From the Create menu, choose Message."

"You don't look American"
"Everyone looks American, because Americans are from everywhere"
- Doonesbury
Chuck Martin
Technical Writer, Seeker Software, Inc | Personal
cmartin -at- seekersoft -dot- com | writer -at- grin -dot- net |

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