Posted by: episystechpubs | April 13, 2017

Editor’s Corner: How to Write About Radio Buttons

Like check boxes, radio buttons allow you to select from a set of options.

Unlike check boxes (which allow you to make multiple selections), radio buttons allow you to select only one option at a time. For example, in the previous image, selecting Always Send a Read Receipt clears the current selection (Never Send a Read Receipt).

Why Are They Called “Radio” Buttons?

Radio buttons (in a user interface) are similar to the preset buttons on older radios. Only one button could be pushed in at a time, so pressing one button caused another button to pop out.

Joe Haupt / Wikimedia Commons

Modern radios work the same way—you can’t select two preset stations at once—but without the dramatic popping-out action.

How to Describe Radio Buttons

In general, it is not necessary to say “radio button.” Refer to a radio button by its label alone; for example, “Select Always Send a Read Receipt.”

If you must refer to the button itself (for example, when describing the user interface to a software developer), use the term “radio button,” not “option button.”

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

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