Language in UI Usage Guideline Bookmark this Guideline Printable Page


RCUI Document Version 5.2.2 for Oracle Fusion Middleware 11g Release 1 Patch Set 1 (11.1.1.2.0)
Last Updated 15-Feb-2011

This guideline provides general recommendations on the use of language in application pages, and provides links to guidelines for text-based components.

Guideline Contents

Related Guidelines

The following Related Guidelines contain language-specific recommendations.

Guideline Section For Information About
Help Framework All All types of Help text
Message Framework All All types of message text
Headers Header Syntax Constructing headers
Breadcrumbs Breadcrumb Syntax Constructing breadcrumb
Buttons Button Text
Common Button Labels
Standard usage of text on action/navigation buttons
Tab Bars All Text in tabs and tab bar

General Principles Bookmark this Heading Return to Top

Purpose:

Oracle products should adhere to the following principles of language usage:

  • Target Audience: All language must be comprehensible to the target audience. For example, the language used to address a sysadmin is not appropriate for a nontechnical user, and vice versa.
  • General Conventions: Language must follow US English standards of usage, and avoid use of terms that are typically found only in speech—such as jargon, humor, slang, and colloquialisms—and are unlikely to be understood by non-native speakers of the language. For example, use of the term "meltdown" to mean "system failure" may be obvious to users born in the US, but not understood by either translators or users from other countries.
  • Consistency: Text for equivalent functions must be consistent across products to increase cross-application usability and provide a common look and feel. These standards are documented in this guideline, and in FusionFX guidelines for specific components.
  • Translatability: Text must be optimized for translation.
  • Accessibility: Text should be clear and easily understood, aiding comprehension for those with disabilities using assistive technology.

Common Style Issues Bookmark this Heading Return to Top

Active and Imperative Voice Bookmark this Heading Return to Top

Use imperative voice (command voice) when giving simple directions to users in help and message text. The imperative form is shorter and simpler than other forms, but is not useful for describing a situation.

In general, when describing a situation, use active voice (xxx does yyy), rather than passive voice (yyy was done by xxx) or imperative voice (do abc). When the user may need to perform an action, use the following constructions:

  • "You must… to specify a required action.
  • "You should… to recommend an action.
  • "You can… to indicate that an option exists.

Passive voice is an acceptable construction when:

  • The performer of an action is not known.
  • Naming the performer of the action is inappropriate in the context. This is typically because the performer is the application, and the application name is long, or because the performer is a middleware software module that is not known to the audience.

Examples:

Context Correct Incorrect
Directing a user to perform an action.
(Imperative voice)
Attach receipts to your expense account before you submit it. Receipts should be attached to an expense account before submitting it.

You must attach receipts to your expense account before you submit it.
Describing a situation in which the performer is known to the user.
(Active voice)
The Intelligent Agent detected the following errors in your job: aaa, bbb, ccc. The following errors were detected: aaa, bbb, ccc.
Describing a situation where the user needs to perform an action.
(Active voice)
You must restart the server before the installation can be completed. The server must be restarted before the installation can be completed.

Restart the server before completing the installation.
Describing a situation in which the performer is unknown to the user.
(Passive voice)

Your changes were submitted for approval.

Requisition XYZ was saved.

Product Middleware Module XYZ submitted your changes for approval.

Requisition XYZ has been saved.

Present Tense Bookmark this Heading Return to Top

In most cases, use present tense when writing help, messages, and long labels. Even though you would normally use future tense to express a statement in spoken English, that statement can usually be written in present tense. Other tenses may be required when you are referring to certain user actions:

  • Future Tense (will display): Use when referring to a future event for the user.
  • Past Tense (you deleted; you turned the button off): Use in messages describing what the user has recently done.

Examples:

Context Correct Incorrect
Most Product xxx automatically saves the changes in the related folder. Product xxx will automatically save the changes in the related folder.
Future event for user The next time you open the yyy folder, you will see both the original document and your copy. The next time you open the yyy folder, you see both the original document and your copy.
What user has done You deleted the following documents: aaa, bbb, ccc.... You have deleted the following documents: aaa, bbb, ccc....

Syntax Bookmark this Heading Return to Top

Action-Oriented Syntax Bookmark this Heading Return to Top

When constructing labels for action-only or action/navigation components, use this syntax for most cases:

{ActionVerb in imperative voice} [preposition] [adjective] {Object} [additional info]

For example, "Delete Row", "Create Approved Vendor", or "Delete from Approved Vendor List".

Navigation-Oriented Syntax Bookmark this Heading Return to Top

When constructing labels for navigation-only components, use this syntax for most cases:

{Go to} {PageTitle|StepNumber}

For example, "Go to Approved Vendor List", or "Go to Step 5"

Use this alternate syntax if the page title is unclear in the current context, or if the concatenation of "Go to" and "PageTitle" results in a confusing phrase:

{Display} {Subject|PageTitle}

For example, "Display List of Prospective Clients"

Note: If translation costs are a concern, do not concatenate application fields and labels in a sentence-like structure, such as "Add {AddressObject} from {Country}."

Problem Phrasing Bookmark this Heading Return to Top

UI text must be brief, clear, and direct. Therefore, refrain from using the following:

  • Please: Do not start directions or messages with "Please." Instead, directly tell users what they need to do.
  • Remember: Do not start directions or messages with "Remember."
    • If the user needs to perform an action later, but not in the immediate future, use future tense and specify the condition when the user must perform the action, using a construction such as "you will need to do XXX when . . . ".
    • If an action is necessary only under certain conditions, specify both the conditions and the action required. Depending on the conditions, you may want to use an "If . . . then" construction or another type of phrasing.
  • Choose: Even though "choose" seems equally applicable to both mouse and keyboard use, do not use "choose" in place of "click."
    • Use of "Choose" in this manner is not standard English and can cause problems in translation.
    • Mouse use is more common than keyboard use, and keyboard users are accustomed to reading documentation written for mouse users.
    • Likewise, do not use similar terms in place of "click", such as "press" (which is used for keystrokes) and "select" (which is used for selection of data).
  • Make sure: Do not use "make sure to" or "make sure that" or "ensure that." Instead, use constructions with "you must."
Context Correct Examples Incorrect Examples
Message text requiring the user to perform an action You must enter one or more line items in your purchase request before submitting it. Please enter one or more line items in your purchase request.

Make sure you enter one or more line items in your purchase request.
Message text directing the user to perform an action in the future. You will need to enter this user name and password the next time that you sign in. Remember to enter this user name and password the next time you sign in.
Help text directing the user to perform an action if certain conditions exist. If your license was issued before 1 January 2002, you must provide a new photograph along with your extension request. Remember to provide a new photograph along with your extension request if your license was issued before 1 January 2002.
Help text directing the user to perform an action. Click any user name to see connection details. Choose any user name to see connection details.

Capitalization Bookmark this Heading Return to Top

Two forms of capitalization are commonly used in both general writing and UI text:

  • Headline (Title) Capitalization: Follows newspaper headline style, with initial capitals on most or all words.
  • Sentence Capitalization: Follows the standard practice of placing an initial capital at the beginning of a sentence.

Headline (Title) Capitalization Bookmark this Heading Return to Top

Headline capitalization places initial capitals on each word except for the following:

  • Articles (a, an, the) should be in lower case, unless they appear at the beginning of a phrase or sentence. Note that articles should not appear at the end of a phrase or sentence.
  • Prepositions with four or fewer letters should be in lower case (including: as, at, but, by, down, for, from, in, into, like, of, off, on, over, past, per, than, to, up, with), unless:
    • The preposition is part of a verb, such as "Up" in "Setting Up".
    • The preposition appears alone, such as "To".
    • The preposition appears at the beginning or end of a phrase or sentence.
  • Coordinate conjunctions (for, and, but, or, nor, so, yet) should be in lower case. Note that subordinate conjunctions (for example: if, because, as, that) always have initial capitals.

Use headline capitalization for the following component and contexts:

Component Context Correct Example Incorrect Example
Windows Titles All Create Purchase Order Create purchase order
Headers, Subheaders, Sub-subheaders All Delete Vendor Delete vendor
Buttons
(including Toolbar buttons)
All Save As Save as
Column Headers
(Table TreeTable)
All Mailing Address Mailing address
PanelAccordion Headers All Space Allocation Space allocation
SelectShuttle Subheaders All Available Items, Selected Items Available items, Selected items
Tabs All, unless user defined Order History Order history
Breadcrumb Links All Create Purchase Order Create purchase order
Menu Items All Expand All Below Expand all below
Group Labels All Billing Address Billing address
Links When representing a page title, such as Train links Payment Information Payment information
Global Links All Contact Us Contact us
Tree Nodes Only for system-defined nodes Backup Devices, Application Resources Backup devices, Application resources
Slider All Print Quality Print quality
Input/Choose Date Field All Expiration Date Expiration date
Progress/Status Indicator Bar and Meter All Percent Complete Percent complete
Tooltips Only when tooltip text is used in place of a capitalized label, such as for iconic buttons and functional icons. Add Another Row Add another row
Key Notation (for example, symbol, abbreviation, and scaling keys) When spelling out abbreviations and acronyms. APR = Annual Percentage Rate APR = Annual percentage rate
Instruction Text Only for explicit references to UI elements See References to Labels and Objects
Messages Only for explicit references to UI elements See References to Labels and Objects
Note: Headline capitalization is also required for any component containing a proper noun (name that is usually capitalized in English), such as a person's name, a company name, or an organization name. These are common in links, lists, and tables.

Sentence Capitalization Bookmark this Heading Return to Top

Sentence capitalization uses an initial capital for the first word in each sentence. Note that proper nouns, such as "San Francisco" and "Friday", always have initial capitals when placed within sentences. Use sentence capitalization for the following components and contexts:

Component Context Correct Example Incorrect Example
Instruction Text All, except when the instruction text contains a proper noun or references to labels and objects For an explanation of the currency codes used on this page, see the currency key. For an Explanation of the Currency Codes Used on this Page, See the Currency Key.
Hint Text All, except when the hint text contains a proper noun or references to labels and objects Enter characters A-Z or 0-9 only. Enter Characters A-Z or 0-9 Only.
Messages All, except when the message contains a proper noun or references to labels and objects You must select at least one row to perform this action. You Must Select at Least One Row to Perform this Action.
Key Notation (for example, symbol, abbreviation, and scaling keys All, except when spelling out abbreviations and acronyms. Week = Work week starting on Monday Week = Work Week Starting on Monday
Tooltip All, except when the tooltip text is used in place of a capitalized label, such as for iconic buttons and functional icons. Delete vendor from the Approved Vendor list Delete Vendor from the Approved Vendor List
Radio button and Checkbox value labels All Display next notification after my response Display Next Notification After My Response
List Data Labels All, except when the label is a proper noun Office supplies

San Francisco
Office Supplies

San francisco
Table and Tree Table Data Labels All, except when the label is a proper noun Acco 1-in. paper fasteners

500 Oracle Parkway
Acco 1-In. Paper Fasteners

500 oracle parkway
Tree Nodes All user/data-driven nodes, except when the label is a proper noun Third-party documents Third Party Documents
Links All, except for global links, or when a link represents a page title or a proper noun Go to shopping cart

John Brown
Go to Shopping Cart

John brown
UI Label When UI label is being used as a question in a survey or questionnaire When would you like this change to take effect? When Would You Like this Change to Take Effect?

Capitalization of UI References Bookmark this Heading Return to Top

In general, avoid references to UI labels and objects in Help text unless absolutely necessary to explain a complex range of options to new users. See References to Labels and Objects later in this guideline for details.

When you must reference a UI label, such as the "Effective Date" field, use headline capitalization to distinguish the reference from surrounding text, even though that label appears with sentence capitalization on the page. For example, reference a check box with the label "Do something" as "Click Do Something to . . . ," rather than "Click Do something to . . . ."

When references to object types, such as purchase orders or employees, are needed in any form of Help or message text, it is usually sufficient to make an implicit (general) reference in lower case. References to specific object names should appear only in message text, and should retain the headline capitalization used in the object's label.

For example:

  • Capitalized UI Label: "You must enter a date in the Effective Date field to continue."
  • Capitalized Object Name: "Purchase Request 20432 was submitted for approval."
  • Lowercase References to UI Element/Object Type:
    • "Your password must have at least six characters."
      • In this case, the page contains a Password field, but the reference is to the specific data that the user enters.
    • "Enter an invoice number."
      • In this case, the page contains a field with the label Invoice Number, but the reference is in lowercase because it refers to the object type to be entered rather than the field or object name.

To determine whether to capitalize a reference, ask the following questions:

  • UI Label: Does the sentence or phrase contain the full text of the UI label, and would it still make sense if you were to append the component name after the label, such as Add Assignee button or Show Hidden Characters check box? If so, then capitalize the label.
    • Note: This is only a method for determining capitalization; do not use UI component names in Help and message text.
  • Object Name: Is the name the unique identifier for an object (only one object has that name)? If so, then capitalize the name.

Punctuation Bookmark this Heading Return to Top

UI labels, titles, headers, and link text should have no ending punctuation. The only exception is when a UI label is being used to pose a question in a survey or questionnaire. In that case, it is acceptable to end the label with a question mark (for example, "When would you like this change to take effect?")

Instruction text, hint text, and messages must be properly punctuated.

Pronouns Bookmark this Heading Return to Top

In general, FusionFX products should omit pronouns (such as "I", "my", "his", "our", "they") from user interface labels. Exceptions to this rule are limited to:

  • The global link "Contact Us".
  • Web addresses containing "my," such as "my.oracle.com."
  • The construction "My (xxx)", such as "My Requisitions", for lists of objects created by or requiring action from the currently signed-in user. Note, however, that overuse of "My (xxx)" in an enterprise application can appear unprofessional.
    • More specifically, use "My (xxx) only when "Assigned To" or "Owned by Current User" is the defining characteristic of the list item. If a different criterion is central to the list item, name the list after that criterion instead (for example, use "Recent Items" rather than "My Items" or "My Recent Items".)
  • Other contexts in which the pronoun "my" helps communicate clearly, such as a check box labeled, "Display next notification after my response."

Use of the pronouns "you" and "your" is acceptable in Help text and messages if needed to communicate clearly, or if these words allow writers to avoid using passive voice. However, in many cases, it is preferable to use the imperative (such as "Enter a date . . . ") instead of constructions with "you."

Component Type Correct Examples Incorrect Examples
UI Label Contact Us My Projects
Instruction Text Enter an invoice, then....

The notification mailer clears the address list whenever you stop and restart its container.
You can enter an invoice, then....

The notification mailer clears the address list whenever its container is stopped and restarted.
Message You must select at least one row to perform this action. At least one row must be selected to be able to perform this action.
Hint Text Your password must be at least six characters long. The password entered must be at least six characters long.

Plurals Bookmark this Heading Return to Top

When referring to a choice between one or more items, use the plural form of the word, rather than using parenthetical plurals. For example, instead of "Select item(s) . . . ," use "Select items . . . ." Even though this is not optimal when there is only one item, consistent use of plurals reduces translation costs.

Numbers in Sentences Bookmark this Heading Return to Top

Standard US English writing practice is to spell out all numbers when they appear at the beginning of sentences and to spell out numbers from zero to nine when they are embedded in sentences, unless they are units of measurement.

Without skilled editing, these rules may result in awkward sentences such as: "One hundred ten employees received bonuses this quarter, 33 employees received raises, and five employees were terminated."

These rules may also lessen the usefulness of message, Hint text, or Instruction text when the text includes variable numbers that indicate quantities, and be inappropriate where a number is the identifier for an object. Consequently, FusionFX products use the following rules for display of numbers:

  • Display variable numbers using numerals.
  • Spell out nonvariable numbers zero through nine.
  • Where possible, avoid starting sentences with numbers.

If Instruction or Hint text includes more than one occurrence of nonvariable numbers (unusual), avoid mixing spelled numbers and numerals in a single instruction. Instead, use numerals for all occurrences, but construct the sentence so that numerals do not appear at the beginning.

Component Type Type of Number Correct Examples Incorrect Examples
Message Variable numbers indicating quantity and identifying object You saved 2 assets in Asset List 45798. 2 assets were saved in Asset List 45798.
Message Multiple occurrences of variable number indicating quantity Human Resource actions in the past quarter included the following: bonuses for 110 employees, raises for 33 employees, and termination of 5 employees. Human Resource actions in the past quarter included the following: bonuses for 110 employees, raises for 33 employees, and termination of five employees.
Hint Text Nonvariable number between zero and nine You must select at least two people to form a group. You must select at least 2 people to form a group.
Instruction Text Multiple occurrences of nonvariable number Products may be shipped as follows: 1 to 3 units in a padded envelope, and 4 to 12 units in a carton. Products may be shipped as follows: one to three units in a padded envelope, and four to twelve units in a carton.

References to Labels and Objects Bookmark this Heading Return to Top

When writing Instruction text, avoid explicit references to UI labels, such as "Search," and to object types, such as "Accounts," unless necessary to explain a complex range of options to new users. Product labels may change during the development cycle requiring rework of both the original Instruction text and all translated versions of it.

When it is necessary to refer to a UI element, consider using an implicit reference, as described in the following section. Otherwise, refer to labels as follows:

  • Use regular text with Headline Capitalization for the label to distinguish it from surrounding text. The online appearance of quotation marks and bold and italic terms can easily make the page too busy and create problems when translated to languages with different character sets.
  • When referring to multiple labels, list them in the order in which they appear in the UI, unless the text is applicable to only a subset of the labels. In this case, consider reordering the labels to reflect the likelihood of usage.
  • When repeated words appear in terms, use a qualifier followed by a noun to form a string. For example, "Ordered Quantity" and "Received Quantity", not "Quantity Ordered" and "Quantity Received". This does not apply to headers.

Implicit References Bookmark this Heading Return to Top

When it is necessary to refer to a label, it is preferable to use an implicit reference wherever possible to minimize the effect of label changes on instructions during the development cycle. Implicit references are easier to construct when you are referring to an action-oriented (verb) button label, but are also possible when the label is a noun, as shown in the following examples.

Examples:

  • On a page where users can search for account numbers, a user might need directions to create a new code if one with the appropriate properties is not found in the search:
    • Explicit Reference: If searching on a combination of number segments yields no results, you can click Create to define a new account number.
    • Implicit Reference: If searching on a combination of number segments yields no results, you can create a new account number.
  • On an Expense Report page, a user might need a pointer to a Details button to enter additional information:
    • Explicit Reference: Click Details to enter information specific to an expense, such as the daily rate.
    • Implicit Reference: Edit the expense details to enter specific information, such as the daily rate.

Abbreviations and Acronyms Bookmark this Heading Return to Top

An abbreviation is a shortened form of a single word. An acronym is an abbreviated phrase which is formed by combining a part (usually the first letter) of each word in the phrase.

  • Due to accessibility requirements and internationalization constraints, acronyms should be used sparingly, and abbreviations should be avoided.
    • The overall UI look-and-feel is more professional when abbreviations and acronyms are not overused.
    • Some languages have no concept of abbreviations. The translation in these cases produces text that is significantly longer than in English and can cause page layout problems.
    • Overuse of abbreviations and acronyms, especially unfamiliar ones, may cause comprehension problems in English which are then magnified in translation.
    • Screen readers may incorrectly pronounce abbreviations and acronyms that are not industry-standard.
  • Product Help pages should spell out terms in full instead of using abbreviations or acronyms, and product teams should use the full form of a term instead of a shortened form in UI text if there is enough space on the page to display it. The exception is if the shortened term is the preferred term, such as it is with the terms HTML, URL, and ID.
  • When used, abbreviations or acronyms must be defined using a key or other method, unless they are standard in modern English (such as "HTML"). Verify that such usages are standard English—that they can be easily found in dictionaries or other references commonly used in the application's industry sector.
    • Certain non-standard acronyms may be replaced with different terms that convey the same meaning. For example, instead of expanding "URL" to "Universal Resource Locator", use the term "web site".
    • An abbreviation key placed is the preferred method of defining abbreviations and acronyms. The key should appear start-aligned below a Header when no instruction text is present, or otherwise end-aligned (under task stamps, if available). When a number of abbreviations and acronyms are commonly referenced, provide a key defining the terms within a panel box or dialog.
  • See the Help Framework guidelines for information on the types of Help messages, and see the Headers guideline for information on when to use key notation.
  • Abbreviations should be written with initial-caps or sentence caps as appropriate for use in a sentence. For example, when "document" is abbreviated as "doc", it would be written as "Doc" at the start of a sentence and "doc" in the middle of a sentence. The only exception to this is for the term "Identifier". When it is abbreviated, use all-caps as in "ID".
  • Acronyms should be written in all caps (for example, "UOM" for Unit of Measure).
  • Do not append "s" to the end of an abbreviation or acronym to make it plural. Use the full word if you need to indicate multiple items (for example, use "Organizations" instead of "Orgs").
  • Each abbreviation or acronym must be defined above its first instance in a page or group of related pages.

Delimiters Bookmark this Heading Return to Top

Products frequently concatenate data to populate fields. When data is concatenated, it is necessary to insert delimiters between individual strings. Otherwise, users could misinterpret the data as a single value or the data could form a nonsensical phrase.

The range of delimiters is restricted because some delimiters, such as commas, may occur within individual strings and thus create further problems. The following delimiters are recommended for FusionFX applications:

  • Use colons followed by a nonbreaking space (: ) for concatenation of syntax-based page and section headers. See Header Syntax in the Headers guideline for examples.
  • Use one of the following characters to delimit concatenated data; the choice depends on which characters are already present in data, and common practice within a specific domain:
    • Semicolons followed by a nonbreaking space (; ) are recommended for most cases, because semicolons rarely appear within data strings.
    • Hyphens between two nonbreaking spaces ( - ) may be used to delimit concatenated strings that are used to identify a specific object.
    • Periods without spaces (.) or hyphens without spaces (-) may also be used to delimit long, concatenated strings that are used to identify a specific instance of a structured code, such as a product serial number, an accounting code, or an IP address.
  • Use the greater than symbol (>) to delimit levels in a hierarchical path, such as breadcrumbs and submenu indicators.
Page Element Correct Examples Incorrect Examples Notes
Concatenated Page or Section Header Promote Employee: John Smith Promote Employee-John Smith
(Hyphens are reserved for concatenated data)
Page headers are commonly constructed using segments that represent pages in the application hierarchy. Header segments should be delimited with a colon followed by a nonbreaking space. Other characters may appear within one of those segments.
Concatenated Data -
most cases
Redwood City, California, USA; Bangalore, India Redwood City, California, USA, Bangalore, India
(Individual strings contain commas)
Semicolons are usually followed by a nonbreaking space to make them more visible.
Concatenated Data -
to identify a specific object
Fulfillment Line 12345 - 1.2.1

Sales Tax - Vision Enterprises - VAT

Platinum Plus Visa - 2345
Fulfillment Line 12345 . 1.2.1
(The string "1.2.1" already contains periods; periods are reserved for structured codes)

Sales Tax-Vision Enterprises-VAT
(Hyphens without nonbreaking spaces are reserved for structured codes)

Platinum Plus Visa: 2345
(Colons are reserved for headers)
A hyphen with nonbreaking space before and after functions well to delimit strings. All parts of the string may be peers, or the leading part of the string may specify an object type or parent object name, while the trailing part of the string specifies an individual object or child object.
Concatenated Data -
for structured codes
127.0.0.1 (IP address)

05.56.42.65.28 (French phone format)
127,0,0,1
(Commas are reserved for data)

05 . 56 . 42 . 65 . 28
(Delimiters for multi-segment codes should be inserted without spaces)
Periods are used in some domains to delimit segments within a multi-segment code.
12000358-1825-23456-98765 (Full US checking account number)

650-506-6011 (US phone format)
12000358:1825:23456:98765
(Colons are reserved to delimit headers)

650 - 506 - 6011
(Delimiters for multi-segment codes should be inserted without spaces)
Hyphens are used in some domains to delimit segments within a multi-segment code.
Breadcrumbs Books > Fiction > Science Fiction > Books . Fiction . Science Fiction
(Periods are reserved for concatenated data)
Breadcrumb segments should be delimited with a greater-than symbol followed by a trailing space.
Note: A header may contain both colons and another type of delimiter if one of the header segments consists of a concatenated data string. For example, an application could have a page title of "Fulfillment Line 12345 - 1.2.1: Details".

Symbols Bookmark this Heading Return to Top

The following table includes common symbols and their recommended usage in UI and message text.

Symbol Name Usage in UI and Message Text
~ tilde None. Do not use as a replacement for the word "approximately."
` back quote None.
! exclamation point

None. Do not use the exclamation point in UI text, as this has the effect of shouting at the user. Also, do not use as a replacement for the word "not."

@ at sign Separates user name from host name in e-mail addresses.
# number sign None. Do not use as a replacement for the word "number."
$ dollar sign None. For more details on expressing currency information, see Currency Formats in the Common Formats guideline.
% percent sign Replaces the word "percent" in table columns only. Also used to indicate percentage in field values. For more details on using the percent sign in values, see Use of "Percent" and "%" Symbol in the Common Formats guideline.
^ caret Exponentiation in mathematical expressions.
& ampersand None. Do not use as a replacement for the word "and" except when required by industry standards (such as "Dun & Bradstreet"); for example, use "Create and Add Another" not "Create & Add Another".
* asterisk Multiplication in mathematical expressions. Also used to indicate required fields.
( ) parentheses Grammatical usage, unit of measure, showing a batch process in header text, area code in telephone formats, time zone in date/time formats, explanatory text for date ranges, and to indicate subqueries in SQL search expressions and nested equations in mathematical expressions.
_ underscore None.
-

hyphen

Grammatical usage; also used in telephone formats, date formats, to indicate subtraction in mathematical expressions, and as a delimiter for concatenated data in some domains (see Delimiters for more details). May also be used to indicate a range of numbers or dates.
+ plus sign Addition in mathematical expressions. Also used for country code prefix in telephone formats. Do not use as a replacement for the phrase "or more."
= equal sign Equality in mathematical expressions only. Do not use as a replacement for the word "equals" or the phrase "equal to."
| vertical bar None. Do not use as a replacement for the word "or."
\ backslash Folder delimiter in PC file names. Also used to escape delimiter characters (such as semicolons) that are included in the data itself.
{ } braces None.
[ ] brackets Numerical equivalent for alphanumeric telephone numbers; for example, "1-800-CAR-SALES [1-800-227-7253]".
: colon Grammatical usage; also used in time formats, URLs, and as a delimiter for concatenation of syntax-based page and section headers (see Delimiters for more details). Do not use to separate prompt and data in a prompt/data pair.
; semicolon Grammatical usage; also used to separate multiple selections in a Select-Many choice list or a read-only Select-Many list box.
" quotation mark Grammatical usage; should generally be avoided in UI text.
' apostrophe Grammatical usage; do not use apostrophes as a substitute for quotation marks.
< > angle brackets Comparison in mathematical expressions. Also used as a delimiter for hierarchical data. Do not use as a replacement for the phrases "less than" and "greater than."
, comma Grammatical usage; also used in locale-specific number formats and as a delimiter for concatenated data in some domains (see Delimiters for more details).
. period Grammatical usage; also used in locale-specific number formats and as a delimiter for concatenated data in some domains (see Delimiters for more details).
? question mark Grammatical usage; should generally be used only in questionnaires and warning messages.
/ slash

Folder delimiter in URLs. Also used in date formats and to indicate division in mathematical expressions. Do not use as a replacement for the word "or"; for example, use "View or Edit" not "View/Edit".

Limited use of slashes are allowed in cases where the connection and meaning are considered to be universally obvious, for example, the term "City/Town/Locality". In addition, if the terms are obviously mutually exclusive, or are direct opposites, such as "Yes/No" or "Mr./Ms." or "State/Region", using a slash within the text may be permissible. Still, slashes should be used only in rare instances.

Note: Do not use the construction "and/or"; "and" and "or" are mutually exclusive, and translators may have difficulty understanding which meaning is intended.

Browser Window Title Bookmark this Heading Return to Top

The title bar in a primary browser window should display the page title, which is identical to the primary header on the page. The syntax used to construct the page title depends on the page type. See the Headers guideline for page title syntaxes for each type of page.

If a page does not have a title (for example, a Home page), instead use the product or suite name for the window title.

Note: All window titles and headers should use headline capitalization.

Shortening Titles and Headers Bookmark this Heading Return to Top

Several navigation components display the title of a target page or a header within a page. Due to space constraints, these components may often require product teams to shorten long titles or headers. These components include:

  • Breadcrumbs: Show hierarchy of pages
  • Train: Displays the name of each step in a process, as a link or a label
  • Choice lists: May appear between the "Next" and "Back" buttons in guided processes
Note: Construct page titles using standard syntaxes for each type of page. See the Headers guideline for details.

Guidelines for Shortening Headers Bookmark this Heading Return to Top

Use the following guidelines when shortening headers:

  • Shortened titles and headers must be readily distinguishable from other title and header choices in a page or process, yet must still make sense to the user.
  • Where possible, shortened page titles should be readily distinguishable from other page titles within a specific product module.
  • Where possible, shortened titles or headers within a page, a process, or a product module should retain parallel construction. For example, in a product with the headers "Meeting History: Fall Planning" and "Meeting History: Spring Planning," the headers might be shortened to "History: Fall Planning" and "History: Spring Planning" rather than "Meeting: Fall Planning" and "Meeting History: Spring".
  • Page titles should be syntax-based so they can be shortened automatically in most cases; however, they may sometimes require additional manual edits to make the title short enough, or to keep it distinct from other titles in the page or set.
    • Except for the case noted below, shorten syntax-based titles by removing the first syntax elements. For example, elements to the left of the colon in the title, "Create Invoice: Shipping Information," can be removed to result in the shorter title, "Shipping Information."
    • Shortening of titles with the syntax {Action} {ObjectType:} {ObjectName} depends on context. Retain one or two syntax elements, along with a colon ( : ) delimiter, to distinguish each page from others in the page or module. For example, if other page titles have different actions, but the same object type, such as "Edit User: Mary Scott" and "Remove User: Fred Black," then retain {Action}, the colon delimiter, and {ObjectName} elements, but remove {ObjectType:}. The result is then "Edit: Mary Scott" and "Delete: Fred Black."

Comparison of Related Terms Bookmark this Heading Return to Top

The following sections compare UI terms that are primarily used to perform actions. Many of these terms appear as standard FusionFX buttons. See the Buttons guideline for a list of common labels.

Adding New Content Bookmark this Heading Return to Top

Create vs. New
"Create" is a verb like all other Action buttons, so is recommended over "New".

Create vs. Add
"Create" displays a page or dialog box where a user can create a new object (where none yet exists). "Add" appends a new instance of an object to an existing set of objects. The new object may then need to be populated with data or properties. Because of the similarity in function, they should not be used within the same section of the page, and preferably not be used on the same page unless necessary.

Create and Add vs. OK and Save
"Create and Add" displays a page where a user can create an object. That page includes an "OK" or "Save" button to confirm the user's changes.

Modifying Existing Content Bookmark this Heading Return to Top

Edit vs. Update vs. Modify
"Edit", "Update", and "Modify" all refer to making changes. For command labels, FusionFX applications should use the industry-standard term "Edit" instead of "Update" or "Modify". The term "Update" should be used only in the past tense to indicate that changes were made to an object, such as "Last Updated Date" or "Last Updated By".

Edit vs. Refresh
"Edit" displays a page or dialog box where users can make changes. "Refresh" redraws the current page without making user changes.

Delete vs. Remove vs. Cut
"Delete" erases an existing object from a database. "Remove" deletes a reference to an application object that appears in the UI but does not affect the underlying object stored in the database, (such as, "Remove from Shopping Cart").

Note: Some applications may use the term "Remove" if "Delete" is considered offensive, such as "Delete Person."

Because of the similarity between "Delete" and "Remove", these words should not be used together except in certain contexts. See Combining Delete with Remove in the Common Table Actions guideline for details.

"Cut" removes an instance of an object from the UI and places it in a temporary storage buffer, such as a clipboard, until it is pasted elsewhere. Clipboard functions are supported by browsers and enable users to cut, copy, and paste, but these functions are not expressly provided in any FusionFX component.

Confirming Changes Bookmark this Heading Return to Top

OK vs. Apply vs. Commit
"OK" confirms changes in modal dialogs and application pages, and closes the dialog or navigates to a new page. "Apply" confirms changes made in a dialog or application page without closing the dialog or navigating to a new page. "Commit" is a database term that is rarely used in applications for nontechnical users.

OK vs. Done
"OK" (or "Save and Close") confirms changes whenever there is a single update action. "Done" confirms changes whenever the task involves iterative updates in a dialog, such as a modeless details dialog or a batch update process.

Save vs. Save and XXX vs. Save As
"Save" preserves changes and remains on the same page so that users can continue modifying page contents.

"Save and XXX" (for example, "Save and Close", "Save and Exit", and "Save and Create Another") preserves changes and navigates to another page.

"Save As" is used when an object or file is saved under a new or modified name.

OK or Save vs. Submit
"OK" or "Save" confirms changes made to the current page and stores the object in a private location. "Submit" commits changes to the object, returns to the initiating page, and routes the object for approval in a workflow process (or publishes the object to a shared or nonprivate repository). When there is no distinction between public and private locations for changes, "Save" is preferred over "Submit".

Canceling Changes and Clearing Settings Bookmark this Heading Return to Top

Cancel vs. Close vs. Back
"Cancel" discards changes since the last save or applies these changes in a transactional page or guided process. "Back" returns to the previous step in a guided process, but does not discard changes made in later steps. "Back" may be used instead of "Cancel" only in situations where the word "cancel" may have another meaning, such as canceling a credit card.

"Close" is used to close a dialog without saving changes. It is used in dialogs with view-only information.

Reset vs. Reset to Default
"Reset" returns settings in a field or region of a page to their most recently-saved state and keeps users on the current page. "Reset to Default" returns settings to their original ("factory") defaults.

"Reset" may initially do the same thing as "Reset to Default" if the user has not yet saved new settings; however, as long as users have the option to save new settings, the term "Reset" is preferred over using "Reset to Default".

Use "Reset to Default" primarily for preferences, to return preference settings to those shipped by the application or those defined by customer IT departments. "Reset to Default" is also commonly used in applications that specify network settings.

Revert vs. Restore vs. Reset vs. Undo
These terms all refer to canceling previous changes. "Undo" cancels the last change to a single element of a page, whereas "Restore", "Revert", and "Reset" perform the function of returning a region or page to its last saved state, which may affect the settings of any number of page elements and makes "Undo" redundant.

"Reset" is used to cancel pending changes that have not yet been saved. On the other hand, "Restore" and "Revert" indicate that saved changes will be reversed, and that the page or object will be rolled back to a previous version.

"Restore" is reserved for database restore operations, so FusionFX applications should use the term "Revert," except for preferences where "Reset to Default" should be used.

Cancel vs. Reset vs. Revert
"Cancel" discards changes since the last Save or Apply action, and returns users to the initiating page. "Reset" discards changes since the last Save or Apply, and remains on the page so that the user can make different changes. "Revert" reverses changes that have already been saved and refreshes the page with settings from the previous version.

Clear and Clear All vs. Reset vs. Reset to Default vs. Revert
"Clear" and "Clear All" can be used in any case where the user needs to enter and select new settings. The primary function of "Clear" and "Clear All" is to save the user from having to select and delete or edit multiple fields. Do not use "Clear" and "Clear All" if you want to retain any values in input fields; use "Reset" instead.

Use "Reset to Default" specifically to return all settings on a page, including input fields, to the shipped state. Depending on the application, this may mean that input fields are populated with default values. Products most commonly use "Reset to Default" in preferences.

Use "Reset" to return settings to their previous state before changes are saved. The first time a user opens a page, "Reset" may have an identical result to "Reset to Default", but this may not be the case during subsequent sessions, where "Reset" returns the last settings specified by the user.

Use "Revert" to roll back to a previous version after changes are saved. The first time new settings are saved, "Revert" may have an identical result to "Reset to Default", but this may not be the case during subsequent sessions, where "Revert" restores the last version saved by the user and not necessarily the default state.

The behavior of a choice list helps illustrate the differences between these four actions:

  • "Clear" or "Clear All" removes the selection in the choice list.
  • "Reset" moves the selection to the entry that the user selected the last time he or she opened the page or caused it to be redrawn, prior to canceling any pending changes.
  • "Reset to Default" moves the selection to the "factory" default entry specified by the product or the customer IT group.
  • "Revert" moves the selection to the entry that existed before the user saved a new entry.

Making Copies of Data Bookmark this Heading Return to Top

Save As vs. Duplicate

"Save As" is a common term for saving a file under another name and requires input in a dialog.

"Duplicate" places a copy of an object immediately below it and is the equivalent of providing local Copy and Paste functionality in a single step. Duplicate can also navigate to a duplicated object page.

Reloading the Page Bookmark this Heading Return to Top

Refresh Data vs. Refresh
"Refresh Data" reloads data from the database and refreshes the page. Products may ask whether the user wants to reload data from the database, and then either refresh data or refresh both data and page.

"Refresh" redraws the specified object without querying the database.

Navigation and Selection Bookmark this Heading Return to Top

Next vs. Forward
Both "Next" and "Forward" move the user to the next page in a process (commonly used in a guided process). "Next" is short and direct, and more commonly used. "Forward" is commonly used in e-mail applications to forward a copy of a message, and in browsers to return to the next visited page in the browser history. In subprocesses, the next visited page is not always the next page in the process. Therefore, do not use "Forward" to advance through a guided process.

Previous vs. Back
Moves to the previous page in a process (commonly used in a guided process). "Previous" implies a defined sequence. "Back" is used in browsers to mean returning to the last visited page. In subprocesses, the last visited page is not always the previous page in the process. Therefore, do not use "Back" in a guided process.

Searching Bookmark this Heading Return to Top

Basic vs. Advanced
"Basic" performs a search with a set of frequently used criteria. "Advanced" displays a page where users can specify additional search criteria.

Search vs. Find
"Search" retrieves a set of results that match particular criteria. "Find" locates a specific item within a body of information that has already been retrieved. "Find" is not supported in any FusionFX component.

Search vs. Search . . .  vs. [Iconic Search button] vs. Go
"Search" performs a defined search in a query component. Search… (in an LOV choice list) displays a dialog where the user can search for a specific value. An iconic "Search" button appears next to a Quick Search field or LOV input field and performs a search for matching records. "Go" is not recommended in FusionFX.

Data Transfer Bookmark this Heading Return to Top

Import and Export vs. Upload and Download vs. Synchronize
"Import" and "Export" are used exclusively for transferring data in nondatabase formats, such as spreadsheet or delimited formats. "Upload" and "Download" are used for transfer of data in database format between server sites and local machines (including hand-held devices). "Synchronize" is used to match up data and metadata between two systems, such as between servers or between a server and a client system or device so that the user can work offline or between a Forms and FusionFX application.

Modifying Display of Data (Personalization) Bookmark this Heading Return to Top

Personalization vs. Customization vs. Configuration
"Personalization" refers to the process by which an end-user modifies the display of his or her own content, such as regions, fields, columns, etc. "Customization" refers to layout, structure, and content changes made by a customer to the entire application or application suite to meet unique business needs. "Configuration" refers to selections made by a business analyst (rather than a technical resource) that determine look-and-feel, as well as functionality of components (for example, a watch list or business process configuration).

Personalize vs. Setup vs. Administration
Users initiate a Personalization process by selecting a "Personalize" button. Setup tasks are performed during the planning, configuring, and monitoring of an application implementation (typically a one-time process). Administrators perform ongoing maintenance, including reconfiguration of Setup parameters, with "Administration" functionality.

Exiting Applications Bookmark this Heading Return to Top

Sign Out vs. Exit vs. Quit
"Sign Out" typically means breaking a connection without leaving the environment; "Exit" and "Quit" typically mean leaving an environment. Currently, only "Sign Out" is recommended in FusionFX applications.