4.2.2 Using Clear and Concise Language

Surface 1.0 SP1

Clear language helps users understand meaning quickly and easily, and concise language focuses on the core message in as few words as possible. Remember that users typically encounter Microsoft Surface units in commercial environments when they have little dwell time.

You might face some challenges as you try to balance clarity and concision. More words could help clarify meaning, but it makes the information less concise. Likewise, fewer words could improve concision, but it might obscure meaning. You must satisfy both principles with all Surface text and voice audio.

Using Clear and Concise Language


When appropriate, say what the user would say. For example, if the text is a button or interaction, write exactly what the user wants to say, and say it the way that the user would say it.

  • Good: Remove my photos

  • Bad: Delete Files

  • Good: Continue what I was doing

  • Bad: Go back

Do not assume that the user knows what you’re talking about. Give enough details to make the meaning explicit. And be specific rather than general.

  • Good: Your songs have been removed from the playlist

  • Bad: Songs deleted

  • Good: View my photos

  • Bad: Upload all files on device

  • Good: We had to close Photos

  • Bad: The application closed unexpectedly

Use as few words as possible.

  • Good: Close everything

  • Bad: Remove my files, close the applications, and return to the Attract Mode

  • Good: Unfortunately, we can’t read your memory card

  • Bad: We’re sorry but we can’t read your memory card

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