Describing interactions with UI

Customers interact with products using different input methods: keyboard, mouse, touch, voice, and more. So use generic verbs that work with any input method. Don't use input-specific verbs, such as click or swipe. Instead, use the verbs listed here.

See also Formatting text in instructions

Verb Use for Examples
  • Apps and programs
  • Blades
  • File Explorer
  • Files and folders
  • Shortcut menus
  • Use for websites and webpages only when necessary to match the UI. Otherwise, use go to.
  • Don't use for commands and menus.
  • Open Photos.
  • Open the Reader app.
  • Select Users + groups to open the blade.
  • Open the Filename file.
  • To open the document in Outline view, select View > Outline.
  • In WindowName, open the shortcut menu for ItemName.
  • Apps and programs
  • Blades
  • Dialogs
  • Files and folders
  • Notifications and alerts
  • Tabs
  • The action a program or app takes when it encounters a problem and can't continue. (Don't confuse with stop responding.)
  • Close the Alarms app.
  • Close Excel.
  • Close the blade.
  • Close the Users + groups blade.
  • Save and close the document.
  • Closing Excel also closes all open worksheets.
Leave Websites and webpages Select Submit to complete the survey and leave this page.
Go to
  • Opening a menu.
  • Going to a tab or another particular place in the UI.
  • Going to a website or webpage.
  • It's OK to use On the XXX tab if the instruction is brief and continues immediately.
  • Go to Search , enter the word settings, and then select Settings.
  • Go to File, and then select Close.
  • On the ribbon, go to the Design tab.
  • Go to the Deploy tab. In the Configuration list …
  • On the Deploy tab, in the Configuration list …
  • Go to to register.
Select Instructing the customer to select a specific item, including:
  • Selecting an option, such as a button.
  • Selecting a checkbox.
  • Selecting a value from a list box.
  • Selecting link text to go to a link.
  • Selecting an item on a menu or shortcut menu.
  • Selecting an item from a gallery.
  • Selecting keys and keyboard shortcuts. (Document keyboard shortcuts only if they're the most likely way the customer will accomplish a task or as an alternative input method, usually in a separate keyboard shortcuts article.)
  • Select the Modify button.
  • For Alignment, select Left.
  • Select the text, open the shortcut menu, and then select Font.
  • Select Open in new tab.
  • Select the LinkName link.
  • Select F5.
  • Select Shift+Enter.
  • Select Ctrl+Alt+Delete.
Select and hold, select and hold (or right-click) Use to describe pressing and holding an element in the UI. It's OK to use right-click with select and hold when the instruction isn't specific to touch devices.
  • To flag a message that you want to deal with later, select and hold it, and then select Set flag.
  • Select and hold (or right-click) the Windows taskbar, and then select Cascade windows.
  • Select and hold (or right-click) the Start button, and then select Device Manager.
> Use a greater-than symbol (>) to separate sequential steps.

Only use this approach when there's a clear and obvious path through the UI and the selection method is the same for each step. For example, don't mix things that require opening, selecting, and choosing.

Don't bold the greater-than symbol. Include a space before and after the symbol.
Select Accounts > Other accounts > Add an account.
Clear Clearing the selection from a checkbox. Clear the Header row checkbox.
Choose Choosing an option, based on the customer's preference or desired outcome. On the Font tab, choose the effects you want.
Switch, turn on, turn off Turning a toggle key or toggle switch on or off.
  • Use the Caps lock key to switch from typing capital letters to typing lowercase letters.
  • To switch between Normal, Outline, and Slide Sorter views, use the buttons on the View tab.
  • To make text and apps easier to see, turn on the toggle under Turn on high contrast.
  • To keep all applied filters, turn on the Pass all filters toggle.
Enter Instructing the customer to type or otherwise insert a value, or to type or select a value in a combo box.
  • In the search box, enter…
  • In the Tab stop position box, enter the location where you want to set the new tab.
  • In the Deployment script name box, enter a name for this script.
Move, drag Moving anything from one place to another by dragging, cutting and pasting, or another method. Use for tiles and any open window (including apps, dialogs, files, and blades).

Use move through to describe moving around on a page, moving through screens or pages in an app, or moving up, down, right, and left in a UI.
  • Drag the Filename file to the Foldername folder.
  • Move the tile to the new section.
  • Drag the Snipping Tool out of the way, if necessary, and then select the area you want to capture.
  • If the Apply Styles task pane is in your way, just move it.
Zoom, zoom in, zoom out Use zoom, zoom in, and zoom out to refer to changing the magnification of the screen or window.
  • Zoom in to see more details on the map.
  • Zoom out to see a larger geographic area on the map.
  • Zoom in or out to see more or less detail.