One of the first things I did for Kinnser Software was begin to establish content strategy guidelines, and this was the first one. It was published in the Kinnser UX blog I started and maintained, as well as the living (coded) style guide I created.
When writing for headers, buttons, navigation links, and similar items, the guidelines are simple:
- Use nouns for things.
- Use verbs for actions.
- Avoid generic terms like “Submit,” as the action may not be interpreted correctly. Instead, describe exactly what the action will do. This is particularly important for our users, since the term “submit” can have multiple meanings. For example, Medicare claims are submitted. An example of good button text can now be seen in the Approve Claims area of Billing Manager [a key Kinnser feature]. Instead of “Submit,” the button helpfully says “Approve Claims for Submission.”
- Avoid gerunds: verbs functioning as nouns by adding “-ing” to the end of the word. For people for whom English is a second language, this form can be confusing.