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Chapter: User Interface Design

Phrasing the Menu

A menu must communicate to the user information about: o The nature and purpose of the menu itself. o The nature and purpose of each presented choice. o How the proper choice or choices may be selected.

Phrasing the Menu


A menu must communicate to the user information about:

o   The nature and purpose of the menu itself.

o   The nature and purpose of each presented choice.

o   How the proper choice or choices may be selected.


Menu Titles


Main menu:

-   Create a short, simple, clear, and distinctive title, describing the purpose of the entire series of choices.



-   Submenu titles must be worded exactly the same as the menu choice previously selected to display them.



-   Locate the title at the top of the listing of choices.


-   Spell out the title fully using either an:

·        Uppercase font.

·        Mixed-case font in the headline style.


-   Superfluous titles may be omitted.


Menu Choice Descriptions


Create meaningful choice descriptions that are familiar, fully spelled out, concise,and distinctive.


Descriptions may be single words, compound words, or multiple words or phrases.


Exception: Menu bar items should be a single word (if possible).


Place the keyword first, usually a verb.


Use the headline style, capitalizing the first letter of each significant word in the choice description.


Use task-oriented not data-oriented wording.

Use parallel construction.


A menu choice must never have the same wording as its menu title.


Identical choices on different menus should be worded identically.

Choices should not be numbered.

— Exception: If the listing is numeric in nature, graphic, or a list of varying items, it may be numbered.


If menu options will be used in conjunction with a command language, the capitalization and syntax of the choices should be consistent with the command language.


Word choices as commands to the computer.


Menu Instructions


For novice or inexperienced users, provide menu completion instructions.

-   Place the instructions in a position just preceding the part, or parts, of the menu to which they apply.

Left-justify the instruction and indent the related menu choice descriptions a minimum of three spaces to the right.


Leave a space line, if possible, between the instructions and the related  menu choice descriptions.


-   Present instructions in a mixed-case font in sentence style.


For expert users, make these instructions easy to ignore by:

-   Presenting them in a consistent location.

-   Displaying them in a unique type style and/or color.


Intent Indicators


Cascade indicator:

-   To indicate that selection of an item will lead to a submenu, place a triangle or right-pointing solid arrow following the choice.


-   A cascade indicator must designate every cascaded menu.


To a window indicator:

-   For choices that result in displaying a window to collect more information,

place an ellipsis (. . .) immediately following the choice.

-   Exceptions—do not use when an action:


-   Causes a warning window to be displayed.

-   May or may not lead to a window.

Direct action items:

-   For choices that directly perform an action, no special indicator should be placed on the menu.


Keyboard Equivalents

To facilitate keyboard selection of a menu choice, each menu item should be assigned a keyboard equivalent mnemonic.


The mnemonic should be the first character of the menu item’s description.


-   If duplication exists in first characters, use another character in the duplicated item’s description.


-   Preferably choose the first succeeding consonant.

Designate the mnemonic character by underlining it.

Use industry-standard keyboard access equivalents when they exist.


Keyboard Accelerators


For frequently used items, provide a keyboard accelerator to facilitate keyboard selection.


The accelerator may be one function key or a combination of keys.

-   Function key shortcuts are easier to learn than modifier plus letter shortcuts.


Pressing no more than two keys simultaneously is preferred.

-   Do not exceed three simultaneous keystrokes.


Use a plus (+) sign to indicate that two or more keys must be pressed at the same time.


Accelerators should have some associative value to the item.

Identify the keys by their actual key top engraving.


If keyboard terminology differences exist, use:

-   The most common keyboard terminology.


Terminology contained on the newest PCs.

Separate the accelerator from the item description by three spaces.

Right-align the key descriptions.

Do not use accelerators for:

-   Menu items that have cascaded menus.

-   Pop-up menus.

Use industry-standard keyboard accelerators


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