Posted by: Jack Henry | January 26, 2017

Editor’s Corner: Type or Press?

Two weeks ago, I explained when to use the verb type and when to use enter. To review:

· If you’re telling the reader exactly what to type, use the word type (for example, “type San Diego”).

· If you’re describing what kind of information to enter, use the word enter (for example, “enter the name of your city”).

In today’s post, I will discuss the verb press (as in, “Press Y to continue”).

If you want to write as clearly as possible, it is important to differentiate between typing and pressing keys on a keyboard.

Typing refers to entering text (in a document or a field, for example). But you can use your keyboard for more than just entering text. For example, you can press Ctrl+S to save a file or press Backspace to delete an errant character.

We can add a third item to our list above:

· If you’re telling the reader what keys to press, use the word press (for example, “press Shift”).

Verb Choice Is Important

Sometimes, the difference between type and press seems minor (“type 1” and “press 1” mean essentially the same thing). But for other keys and key combinations, poor word choice can confuse readers.

For example, imagine that you want a reader to press the F1 key to open the help menu. If you say, “type F1,” some readers will type the letter F and the number 1, and then wonder where the help menu is.

Just as the word type signals (consciously or otherwise) that the reader should enter text exactly as written, the word press signals that the reader should press keys exactly as they are listed.

Stay Tuned

A standard Windows® keyboard has 104 keys: some with letters, some with numbers, some with symbols, and some with words.

In my next two posts, I will discuss the different types of keys and how to refer to each, so that you can confidently and unambiguously tell your readers what keys to press.

Ben Ritter | Technical Editor | Symitar®
8985 Balboa Avenue | San Diego, CA 92123
619-682-3391 | or ext. 763391 |

Symitar Documentation Services

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