Definitions of words used for labels in an interface.

Guiding Principles

  • Be Active — Use calls to action (e.g., Register Now) for headers when users are being asked to do something with that content, to urge them to take an immediate action. Avoid using the progressive form of the verb (e.g., use Edit, not Editing).
  • Specify Objects with Actions — Include the target with action labels, to make it clear what the user is about to do (e.g., “Create Course Offering”). Because a “Cancel” link is in proximity to a button specifying a specific task and object, it does not need to include the object in its own label (e.g., “Cancel Course Offering”).
  • Soften Headline Tone — Use articles in page titles (e.g., Create a Record) to soften tone and help the reader parse key words.
  • Don’t Be Redundant — Avoid using "new" with "Create" or "Add", as it is redundant.

Design Recommendations

Action Words

  • Add — Starting or completing an action that will change the current user interface (e.g., adding a new row to a collection)
  • Attach — Link a digital object originating outside the system to an internal document (e.g., Attaching a document to a course proposal)
  • Cancel — Return to the originating page without intended action taking place
  • Create — Instantiating a new data object (e.g., add a new course offering to the database)
  • Edit — Beginning a task to change information attached to a document (e.g., Edit course offering)
  • Join — Linking two documents within the system to each other
  • Manage — Manipulating a set of objects, often children of the selected primary object, by adjusting the relationships between them or performing bulk actions across multiple objects (e.g., Manage Course Offering)
  • Preview — Displaying an incomplete state of an object that is currently being edited or created
  • Publish — Changing the state of a document to make its contents viewable by an external audience
  • Remove — Unlinking a digital object from an internal system document
  • Save — Completing an edit or create task (e.g., Continue)
  • Submit — Sending a document into a workflow, without saving data to the server (e.g., Submitting a course proposal for review.)
  • View — Displaying an entire read-only document
  • View Details — Displaying a read-only subset of a full document record

Status Words

While each type of data object will likely have its own labels and flow for its state management, these are five general states to hold consistent meaning across objects:

  • Completed — Finished item now in use. No further changes expected. ( i.e., Offered, Official, Completed, Scheduled, Active, Generated, Published)
  • Canceled — Discarded item, with no intent to use in the future. ( i.e.,Canceled, Error, Closed, Not Approved)
  • Draft — Initial state immediately after creating the item ( i.e., Draft, Not Started, Unscheduled)
  • Ready — Preparatory state with item awaiting review ( i.e., Approved, Planned, In Progress, Enroute, Unscheduled, Pending, Not Generated, Open, Final Edits, Publishing )
  • Suspended — Item on hold, not in use but may be in the future ( i.e., Suspended, Superseded, Exempt, Inactive, Locked, Retired)