Reference documentation

Reference documentation provides details about the programming elements associated with technologies and languages, including class libraries, object models, and programming language constructs.

Consistency is essential in reference documentation. A standard article design, predictable headings and structure, and consistent wording help developers find what they need quickly. Links to articles with related information are also a common feature.

Note Information such as configuration schemas, compiler options, and error messages might not follow the guidelines described in this section.

Article titles

Use the name of a programming element (such as Clear), followed by an element type (such as Class, Method, Property, or Event). If the name is shared by multiple elements, add a differentiator, such as the parent element name or the product or technology name. Differentiators are particularly important in search results, where they help customers find the article for the correct product or element.

Examples
Clear method
Device.Clear method
Clear method (ADO)

Elements of a reference article

The table lists the information typically provided in reference articles. Not all sections appear in all reference articles. Sections vary depending on the language, product, or technology being documented.

Section Contains
Title and description The name of the element and a concise sentence or two describing the element. If possible, explain what the element does or represents without repeating the element name.
Example
MoveRecord method (ADO)
Moves the entity represented by a Record to another location.
Declaration/syntax The code signature that defines the element. This section might also provide usage syntax. If the technology can be used with multiple programming languages, provide syntax for each language.
Example
Record.MoveRecord (Source, Destination, UserName, Password, Options, Async)
Parameters If the element has parameters, provide a description of each parameter and its data type. If appropriate, indicate whether the parameter is required or optional and whether it represents input or output. Provide as much useful detail as possible. Don't just repeat the words in the parameter name or the data type.
Examples
Source
Optional. A String value that contains a URL identifying the Record to be moved. If Source is omitted or specifies an empty string, the object represented by this Record is moved. For example, if the Record represents a file, the contents of the file are moved to the location specified by Destination.

Destination
Optional. A String value that contains a URL specifying the location where Source will be moved.

UserName
Optional. A String value that contains the user ID that, if needed, authorizes access to Destination.

Password
Optional. A String that contains the password that, if needed, verifies UserName.

Options
Optional. A MoveRecordOptionsEnum value whose default value is adMoveUnspecified. Specifies the behavior of this method.

Async
Optional. A Boolean value that, when True, specifies this operation should be asynchronous.
Return value If the element returns a value, describe the value and information about its data type. If the value is a Boolean that indicates the presence of a condition, describe the condition.
Example
A String value. Typically, the value of Destination is returned. However, the exact value returned is provider-dependent.
Remarks Additional information about the element and important details that may not be obvious from its syntax, parameters, or return value. For example, you might explain what the element does in more detail, compare it with similar elements, and identify potential issues in its use.
Example
The values of Source and Destination must not be identical; otherwise, a runtime error occurs. At least the server, path, and resource names must differ.

For files moved using the Internet Publishing Provider, this method updates all hypertext links in files being moved unless otherwise specified by Options. This method fails if Destination identifies an existing object (for example, a file or directory), unless adMoveOverWrite is specified.

Note Use the adMoveOverWrite option judiciously. For example, specifying this option when moving a file to a directory will delete the directory and replace it with the file.

Certain attributes of the Record object, such as the ParentURL property, won't be updated after this operation completes. Refresh the Record object's properties by closing the Record, then reopening it with the URL of the location where the file or directory was moved.

If this Record was obtained from a Recordset, the new location of the moved file or directory won't be reflected immediately in the Recordset. Refresh the Recordset by closing and reopening it.

Note URLs using the http scheme will automatically invoke the Microsoft OLE DB Provider for Internet Publishing. For more information, see Absolute and Relative URLs.
Example A code example that illustrates how to use the programming element. For more information about writing useful code examples, see Code examples.
Requirements or Applies to Language or platform requirements for using the element.
Example
Record Object (ADO)
See also References or links to more information about how to use the element. References or links to related elements.
Examples
Move Method (ADO)
MoveFirst, MoveLast, MoveNext, and MovePrevious Methods (ADO)
MoveFirst, MoveLast, MoveNext, and MovePrevious Methods (RDS)

Other information can appear in reference articles as appropriate to the language, product, or technology. For example, instead of a parameter description as shown in the preceding table, there can be descriptions of members, methods, property values, and field values. The following table contains an example of a property value and examples of exceptions and permissions.

Section Contains
Property value A description of the value for a property or field. If the property or field has a default value, describe that, too. Include the data type of the property value if applicable.
Example
Property Value

String
Returns or sets a String value representing the current date according to your system.
Exceptions/error codes If the element can throw exceptions or raise errors when called, list them and describe the conditions under which they occur.
Example
IOException—An I/O error occurred.
ArgumentNullException—format is null.
FormatException—The format specification in format is invalid.
Permissions Security permissions that apply to the element, if required.
Example
Requires CREATE FUNCTION permission in the database and ALTER permission on the schema in which the function is being created. If the function specifies a user-defined type, requires EXECUTE permission on the type.

If you automatically generate reference documentation and comments from the source code, review the quality and appropriateness of the comments. Developers might leave out details that are important to customers. Remove any implementation or internal details that aren't suitable for documentation.

Learn more For other examples of technical reference articles, see the .NET API Browser section of Microsoft Docs.