The Microsoft Manual of Style: The User Interface

  • 1/15/2012

Modes of interaction

This section describes modes of interacting with the user interface.


Use gesture to refer to a motion that the user can make to interact with hardware such as a touchpad, or a software program such as a game.

An air gesture can be a movement made by any part of a user’s body to give an instruction to the program via a sensor or camera, or a pose that the user makes in front of a sensor or camera to which an avatar will react.

A contact gesture can be a motion made with a user’s finger or hand directly on a screen or surface. If such a gesture is made above the screen or surface, it is an air gesture.

It is all right to use title capitalization for gesture names. Consult your project style sheet for the appropriate capitalization for your content. However, do not capitalize a gesture when it is used as a verb.

Microsoft style

The Help Me gesture displays the Help screen.

Draw a question mark to get help.

To speed through the intersection, perform the Boost gesture by quickly raising both arms above your head.

Now boost through the intersection.

Not Microsoft style

The help me gesture displays the Help screen.

Perform the boost gesture by quickly raising both arms above your head.

Now Boost through the intersection.

For more information about referring to gestures, see the following:

  • drag

  • flick

  • hover over

  • pan

  • pinch

  • pointer

  • pointing device

  • scroll

  • stretch

  • swipe

  • tap

  • turn

  • vibration


Users of a natural user interface with speech recognition functionality can interact with a program by using voice commands. A voice command is a structured verbal input from the user that a program will respond to.

Enclose voice commands in quotation marks. Use punctuation at the end of the command or sentence that includes a command, but punctuation preceding or within the command is not necessary unless needed to avoid ambiguity. Always capitalize the first word in a voice command.

Microsoft style

To call Sean, say “Call Sean Bentley mobile.”

“Find local pizza.”

“Open Marketplace.”

If you want your cub to roll on the ground, just say “Roll over.”

Not Microsoft style

To call Sean, say “Call: Sean Bentley, mobile.”