Posted by: episystechpubs | August 1, 2017

Editor’s Corner: How to Write About Expanding Lists

Expandable and collapsible lists allow user interface designers to fit more content on a smaller screen (like a tablet, a phone, or a watch).

These lists don’t have a consistent appearance across all programs. The most common ways to indicate that lists can be expanded or collapsed are with arrows or with plus and minus signs.

Arrows

In Windows® 8 File Explorer, Microsoft® uses different types of arrows to indicate which folders can be expanded and collapsed.

· A blank right-pointing arrow indicates that the Desktop, Documents, and Pictures folders can be expanded.

· A darkened down-pointing arrow indicates that the This PC folder is already expanded (and can therefore be collapsed).

Tip: Some people call these arrows twisties, but this jargon could confuse readers. I prefer the more descriptive terms used in the Microsoft Manual of Style: “blank right-pointing arrow” and “darkened down-pointing arrow.”

Plus and Minus Signs

In compiled HTML (CHM) files, Microsoft uses plus and minus signs instead of arrows, as in the following screenshot.

Consider Your Audience

When deciding how to describe expandable and collapsible lists, consider your audience.

Experienced computer users will understand an instruction like, “Expand the Documents folder” without being told what to click. It is not necessary to differentiate between arrows, plus and minus signs, and other exotic icons.

Beginners might benefit from a more detailed instruction such as, “Click the blank right-pointing arrow to expand the Documents folder.”

Example (for experienced users): To view additional topics, expand Introducing Windows Media Player.

Example (for beginners): To view additional topics, click the plus sign (+) to expand the Introducing Windows Media Player book.

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

Symitar Documentation Services

NOTICE: This electronic mail message and any files transmitted with it are intended
exclusively for the individual or entity to which it is addressed. The message,
together with any attachment, may contain confidential and/or privileged information.
Any unauthorized review, use, printing, saving, copying, disclosure or distribution
is strictly prohibited. If you have received this message in error, please
immediately advise the sender by reply email and delete all copies.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Categories

%d bloggers like this: