Re: Alternative to "option" for dialog box options

Subject: Re: Alternative to "option" for dialog box options
From: Christina Downs <DOWNS -at- SERVICEWARE -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 19 Mar 1999 08:44:13 -0500

Following are the standards we use where I work:

We use the following terms for the options/components/whatever inside dialog
box - for fields, where you type something
list box - for a list of items to choose from, usually with an up-and-down
scroll bar
drop-down list box - for combo boxes (with an arrow to click so the list
drops down or up)
radio button - circle, must select one or the other, not more than one in
a group
check box - square, can select as many as you want in a group

Examples of each:
Click the 'OK' button to save your changes and close the dialog box.
Type a name for the file in the 'File name' box.
Select the style you want to use from the 'Styles' list box.
Select a color for the line from the 'Color' drop-down list box.
In the 'Orientation' group, select either the 'Portrait' radio button or
the 'Landscape' radio button.
In the 'Effects' group, select the 'Underline' check box.

I've also seen 'text box', 'combo box', and 'option button' used for some of

If you need me to further clarify any of the above, feel free to e-mail me
privately. Hope this was helpful! Thanks.

Christina M. Downs
Technical Writer, Content Development, ServiceWare Inc.
333 Allegheny Avenue, Oakmont, PA 15139
Phone: 412-826-1158 x225 Fax: 412-826-0577
E-mail: downs -at- serviceware -dot- com Web:

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Cynthia Anne Fisher [SMTP:fisherca -at- WORLDNET -dot- ATT -dot- NET]
> Sent: Friday, March 19, 1999 12:27 AM
> Subject: Alternative to "option" for dialog box options
> If anyone can help with this, I'd really appreciate it. I'm racking my
> brain, but I can't think of a solution.
> The MS Style Guide for Technical Publications says not to use "field" or
> "control" to describe a component of a dialog box (list, button, etc.).
> They recommend "option." The problem with option is that some of options
> in the software I'm currently documenting are required, while others
> are...well, optional. "Required option" sounds ridiculous, and I don't
> want to go anywhere near "optional option." Synonyms for "required" and
> "optional" help, but only to a certain extent; the meaning is still the
> same.
> Any ideas? We want to adhere to the MS style guidelines, to maintain
> consistency, but I think in this case we're going to have to deviate. We
> could use "field" or "control," but both are such a techie terms, we
> hesitate to go with either of them.
> Let me know if you have any great thoughts...
> Thanks,
> Cindi Fisher

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