Use technical terms carefully

Technical terms come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Sometimes they're everyday words that are given new meanings, like cloud, batch, or dashboard. Other times, common words are combined to create technical terms, like telemedicine or email. Over time, some technical terms become widely understood, but before that happens, they can be confusing to people who aren't familiar with them. Use technical terms when they're the clearest way to communicate your message, but use them with care.

Use common words whenever possible

Don't use a technical term when an everyday term will do. For example, don't use rip to refer to copying files from a CD if you can use copy instead.

Don’t assume everyone will understand technical terms

When you must use technical terms for precise communication, define them in context.

Use technical terms consistently

When you've decided to use a technical term, use that term consistently across products and services, tools, websites, and marketing communications. Aim for one term, one concept.

Use industry-specific terms for professional audiences

Many industries and professions have their own terminology: banking, healthcare, construction, IT, and project management, for example.

If you're writing for an industry or profession, use the words your audience uses. First, verify Microsoft and industry usage. Check the A–Z word list and The American Heritage Dictionary. Then look to authoritative industry resources:

Don’t create a new term if one already exists

Don't create a new term if an existing one serves your purpose. If you must create a new term, verify that it isn’t already being used to mean something else.

Research emerging terminology

Technology changes at light speed, and customers expect us to use the latest technical terms. But it's crucial to use them correctly and consistently across our products, services, documents, packaging, and marketing. Before you adopt a new term in your content, find out whether other groups are using it, and how.