Formatting common text elements

Consistent text formatting helps readers locate and interpret information. Follow these formatting conventions for common text elements.

For information about referring to UI elements, see Formatting text in instructions.

See also
Formatting developer text elements
Procedures and instructions

Element Convention Example
Database names Bold. The capitalization of database names varies. Contoso database
Emphasis It's OK to use italic formatting sparingly for emphasis. Cybercriminals might call you and claim to be from Microsoft. Be aware that Microsoft will never call you to charge for security or software fixes.
Error messages Sentence-style capitalization. Enclose in quotation marks when referencing error messages in text. We can't find a scanner.
Hmm … looks like that's a broken link.
If you see the error message, "Check scanner status and try again," use Windows Update to check for the latest drivers for your device.
File attributes All lowercase. hidden
To remove the hidden attribute from all files in a folder ....
File name extensions All lowercase. .mdb
File names Title-style capitalization. It's OK to use internal caps in file names for readability. My Taxes for 2016
Folder and directory names Sentence-style capitalization. It's OK to use internal capital letters in folder and directory names for readability. Vacation and sick pay
Macros Usually all uppercase. Use bold formatting if predefined. Might be monospace if user defined. Treatment varies. LOWORD
Markup language elements (tags) Bold. Capitalization varies. <img>
<input type=text>
<!DOCTYPE html>
Mathematical constants and variables Italic. a2 + b2 = c2
New terms Italicize the first mention of a new term if you're going to define it immediately in text. Microsoft Exchange consists of both server and client components.
Ports All uppercase. LPT1
Products, services, apps, and trademarks Usually title-style capitalization. Check the Microsoft trademark list for capitalization of trademarked names. Microsoft Arc Touch Mouse
Microsoft Word
Surface Pro
Network Connections
UI text or strings Sentence-style capitalization. Find on page
Read aloud
Hide selected items
URLs All lowercase for complete URLs. If necessary, line-break long URLs before a slash. Don't hyphenate.
See also URLs and web addresses