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The Microsoft Manual of Style: The User Interface

User interface formatting

Consistent text formatting helps users locate and interpret information easily. Nowhere is this more important than in helping users navigate program user interfaces. For user interface elements, follow the capitalization and bold formatting guidelines in the following sections. For formatting conventions of elements that are not part of the user interface, see Document conventions (Chapter 6).

Capitalization

Use the following capitalization guidelines for user interface elements:

  • For menu names, command names, command button names, dialog box titles, and tab names, follow the capitalization of the user interface. If the user interface is inconsistent, use title capitalization.

  • For dialog box and page elements, follow the capitalization of the user interface. Current style calls for these items to use sentence-style capitalization. If the interface is inconsistent, use sentence-style capitalization.

  • For functional elements that do not have a label in the user interface, such as toolbars (the Standard toolbar) and toolbar buttons (the Insert Table button), use title capitalization. However, do not capitalize the element type such as toolbar, button, menu, scroll bar, and icon.

  • For labels in the interface that are all lowercase or all uppercase, title capitalization is recommended.

Always consult your project style sheet for terms that require specific capitalization or for terms that are traditionally all uppercase or all lowercase.

Bold formatting

In general, use bold formatting for user interface elements, both in procedures and in other text in instructional content. An exception is in content designed to generate interest, such as presales materials or overview content on the web, or if following this guidance would make content unreadable, it is all right not to use bold formatting for UI elements. When in doubt, consult your project style sheet.

Microsoft style

The Word 2010 ribbon has such tabs as the Home tab, the Insert tab, and the Page Layout tab.

On the Home tab, in the Clipboard group, click Copy.

Do not use bold formatting for feature names unless the user must click the feature name.

For more information, see Controls; Document conventions (Chapter 6); Ribbons, menus, and toolbars; Procedures (Chapter 6).

Microsoft style

When the Track Changes feature is turned on, you can view all changes that you make in a document.

On the Review tab, in the Tracking group, click Track Changes.

With Remote Desktop Connection, you can connect to your work computer from your home computer.

To open Remote Desktop Connection, click Start, point to All Programs, click Accessories, and then click Remote Desktop Connection.

Not Microsoft style

When the Track Changes feature is turned on, you can view all of the changes that you make in a document.

With Remote Desktop Connection, you can connect to your work computer from your home computer.

To open Remote Desktop Connection, click Start, point to All Programs, click Accessories, and then click Remote Desktop Connection.

Use the following bold formatting guidelines for user interface elements. For some elements, special capitalization guidance is also mentioned.

Element

Convention

Example

Butt\on names

Bold.

On the Standard toolbar, click Toolbox.

On the Debug toolbar, click Immediate.

Commands on menus, toolbars, and ribbons

Bold.

On the View menu, point to Other Windows, and then click Solution Explorer.

On the Outlining toolbar, select the level that you want in the Outline Level box.

On the Review tab, in the Comments group, click New Comment.

Dialog box options

Bold.

In the Find and Replace dialog box, type the text that you want Word to search for in the Find what box.

Click the More button to display more options.

If All is not selected in the Search box, click the arrow next to the Search box, and then click All.

Click the Replace tab, and then type the text that you want Word to replace in the Replace with box.

Click to select the Match case and Find whole words only check boxes.

Dialog box titles

Bold.

You can also set a document’s password in the Protect Document dialog box.

You can add text entries in the AutoCorrect dialog box.

File names (system-defined)

Bold in procedures if the user must click the file name or type the name as shown. Capitalization follows that of the user interface unless the name is all uppercase or all lowercase. If the name of the file is all uppercase or all lowercase, use title capitalization.

Double-click the Scanpst.exe file to open the Inbox Repair Tool.

The SignedManagedObject.cer file

The Iexplore.exe file (iexplore in UI)

The Acwzmain.mdb file (ACWZMAIN.mdb in UI)

Folder and directory names (system-defined)

Bold in procedures if the user must click the folder or directory name or type the name as shown. Capitalization follows that of the user interface unless the name is all uppercase or all lowercase. If the name of the folder or directory is all uppercase or all lowercase, use title capitalization, unless the folder or directory name is named in part or wholly after an acronym. Then, keep the acronym part of the name in uppercase letters.

Click the Music folder.

The Microsoft shared folder (microsoft shared in UI)

The Errorrep folder (ERRORREP in the UI)

The PChealth folder (PCHEALTH in the UI)

The OEM folder

Icon names

Usually bold. Treatment may vary, so always consult your project style sheet.

Drag the file to the Recycle Bin.

In Control Panel, click Add New Hardware.

List names

Bold.

In the Wallpaper list, click…

Menu names

Bold.

Debug menu

Favorites menu

Panes, named

Usually bold only when clicking a command. Treatment may vary, so always consult your project style sheet.

If you don’t see the navigation pane on the left side of an open window, click Organize, point to Layout, and then click Navigation pane to display it.

When the Navigation Pane is open, you can close it to increase your workspace.

Panes, unnamed or generic use

Sentence capitalization.

The navigation pane

The annotation pane

Tab names

Bold.

Click the View tab.

Toolbar names

Usually bold. Treatment may vary, so always consult your project style sheet.

On the Data Designer toolbar, click Relationship.

On the Text To Speech toolbar, click the command that you want to use.

Views, named

Bold only when clicking a command.

Switch to Design view by right-clicking the form, and then clicking Design View.

Views, unnamed

Sentence capitalization.

In outline view

In chart view

Windows, named

Usually bold. Treatment may vary, so always consult your project style sheet.

Copy and paste the code from the Immediate window into the Code window.

Double-click the table to open the Database Properties window.

Windows, unnamed

Sentence capitalization.

In the document window

Wizard names

Bold only if clicked.

On the Create tab, in the Forms group, click More Forms, and then click Form Wizard.

The Form Wizard can create a variety of results depending on the options that you select

Wizard page names

Bold.

On the Identify Fact and Dimension Tables page, the fact and dimension tables identified by the wizard are displayed.