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The Microsoft Manual of Style: The User Interface

As natural user interfaces develop, writing and editing content for the interface will undoubtedly generate the need for a new style and new terminology. This version of The Microsoft Manual of Style introduces the first wave of this new style and terminology with the intent to set some groundwork for future guidelines.

In the last decade, the types of electronic devices that a person can interact with have proliferated. In addition to computers, many people now have smartphones and game consoles, and they’re interacting with them by using their voices, fingers, hands, and even their whole bodies.

The term used for these new types of interfaces is natural user interface (NUI). The natural user interface is designed and programmed to enable a user to interact more naturally with a computer or program through gestures and speech instead of an input device such as a keyboard, mouse, or game controller. For example, a user can give a command or select an option by touching the screen with a finger or hand. With a device that has a camera or sensor, a user can perform a gesture with an arm, a foot, or even the entire body to interact with a character on the screen. With a device that has a microphone, a user can say a command, clap, or whistle to cause a program to react in a logical or expected manner. Additional interactions can include holding up something for the program to digitize and show on the screen, and then working with that item through an avatar. Programs can also read facial features to recognize a user, read lips, and even reply to a user’s voice. Natural user interface technology can also enable a program to determine the location of a user and to react to that location.

As natural user interfaces develop, writing and editing content for the interface will undoubtedly generate the need for a new style and new terminology. This version of the Microsoft Manual of Style introduces the first wave of this new style and terminology with the intent to set some groundwork for future guidelines.

Windows user interface

The following illustrations show a Windows desktop, the desktop access points, an open window, a browser window, and a webpage, with the various elements that appear on them called out.

Elements that appear in more than one illustration are not necessarily called out on each illustration. For example, the scroll bar and the Close button appear in all windows, so they are only called out in the illustration of an open window.

For the names of dialog box elements, see Dialog boxes. For the names of items on a ribbon, menu, or toolbar, see those topics. For more information, also see User interface formatting, and the names of individual items.

Windows desktop

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Desktop access points

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Open window

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Browser

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Webpage

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