The Microsoft Manual of Style: The User Interface

  • 1/15/2012

User interface elements

User interface elements enable users to interact with programs, applications, and with pages and services on websites. These elements, which include controls and commands, can be presented to the user in various graphical forms, such as in ribbons, menus, toolbars, dialog boxes, property sheets, or web forms. Or they can be individual elements such as hyperlinks or download buttons on webpages.

User interface terminology

In content for software developers, buttons and other dialog box elements are called controls, especially in discussions about creating them. Do not use control in content for a general audience.

User interface syntax

The following terms are most commonly used to describe how users interact with controls and commands:

  • Click: Use for commands, command buttons, option buttons, and options in a list, gallery, or palette.

  • Select and clear: Use for check boxes.

  • Remove the check mark: Use for checked and unchecked commands.

  • Type or select: Use to refer to an item (as in a combo box) that the user can either type or select in the accompanying text box. You can use enter instead if there is no possibility of confusion.

Except for the identifiers box, list, check box, and tab, the generic name of a control (button, option, and so on) should not follow the label of a control, especially within procedures.

Use bold formatting for dialog box titles, labels, and options. Do not use bold formatting for the title of a webpage. Instead, insert a hyperlink if appropriate or use regular type. For more information, see dialog boxes, Document conventions (Chapter 6), Procedures (Chapter 6), User interface formatting, Windows user interface.

The following example shows typical procedure wording for dialog box controls and webpage controls.

Microsoft style (for dialog boxes)

To view bookmarks

  1. On the Tools menu, click Options, and then click the View tab.

  2. Select the Bookmarks check box.

Microsoft style (for webpages)

To create a free website

  1. Go to

  2. On the Office Live Small Business sign-up page, click Create a free website. A sign-up page appears.