Common Style Guidelines

This section includes guidelines for preventing common errors in word choice and sentence formation in accordance with vendors requirements.
This section includes guidelines for preventing common errors in word choice and sentence formation. The list contains some of the most common errors in grammar, language, style, and formatting. Use this section as a quick reference as you write or edit. For more comprehensive information on, and guidelines for writing about technical information, please see the each vendors Manual of Style to remain compliant with accessibility requirements.
Use
Do Not Use
Comments
VMs
VM's
Do not use an apostrophe when you mean plural. This is the possessive form.
Red, white, and blue
Red, white and blue
Always include the serial comma, which is the comma before a coordinating conjunction such as "and" or "or."
In Server Manager, click Manage, and click Add Roles and Features.
In Server Manager, click Manage, then click Add Roles and Features.
Then is not a coordinate conjunction and thus cannot correctly join two independent clauses. Use and or another coordinate conjunction or then with a semicolon or another conjunctive adverb to connect independent clauses in, for example, two-part procedural steps. This is one of the most common grammatical errors in lab documents.
Some applications are unable to use expanded memory.
Some applications are unable to utilize expanded memory.
Do not use utilize as a synonym for use. Utilize means "to find a practical use for."
On the File menu, click Open.
On the File menu, select Open.
Use click rather than choose or select to refer to the user action of issuing a command or setting an option.
On the View menu, point to Toolbars, and then click Formatting.
On the File menu, choose Open. Click on Save.
When dealing with menus and submenus, do not use click on, only click.
Check the Print all pages check box.
Check the Print all pages checkbox.
If using the term check box, this is two words.
For more information about...
For information on...
In cross-references, use about, not on.
To ..., click ….
Click … to....
Begin the sentence with "To".
web, website
Web, web site
web in lower case, and website all one word.
All caps for AM, PM, and key names, such as CTRL, ALT, and DELETE
Small caps, or title case.
Note no periods in AM and PM although acceptable using periods (full stops) is dated.
The Save as dialog box appears.
The Save as dialog box displays.
Do not use display as an intransitive verb. Use appears or, only if necessary, the passive is displayed.
Type the following code, and then press ENTER.
Type the following code, and then press ENTER:
End the introductory sentence with a period, not a colon. This is a recent change to the MMS. Sentences introducing code samples are now always ended with a period, not a colon.
To install the program, do the following:
To install the program, perform the following steps:
If following is the last word before what it introduces, follow it with a colon. This is a recent change to the MSTP.
Use Intense Emphasis style for user interface elements with which a user interacts.
Do not use bold for emphasis.
See the relevant section in this style guide for complete guidelines regarding bold font. Do not use bold for UI elements that are used as reference.
Spell out acronyms at first mention
None
ie MEM (Microsoft Endpoint Manager)
computer
machine
Do not use machine when you mean computer. While this term is common among software developers and IT Pros, it is not acceptable per MMS.
You will need to supply information about applications that you want to run with Windows.
You will need to supply information about applications which you want to run with Windows.
That and which are often confused. Be sure to use the appropriate word. That introduces a restrictive clause, which is a clause that is essential for the sentence to make sense. A restrictive clause often defines the noun or phrase preceding it and is not separated from it by a comma. In general, do include the word that in restrictive clauses, even though in some clauses the sentence may be clear without it. Including that prevents ambiguity and helps translators understand the sentence.
Your package contains the subsidiary information card, which you can use to obtain device drivers or local technical support.
You will need to supply information about applications you want to run with Windows.
Which introduces a nonrestrictive clause, which is a clause that could be omitted without affecting the meaning of the sentence. It is preceded by a comma. Nonrestrictive clauses often contain auxiliary or parenthetical information.
Type your password, and then press ENTER.
Enter your password, and then click OK.
Do not use as a synonym for type except to indicate that a user can either type or click a selection from, say, a list in a combo box.
Wait for the computer to restart, and then log on as Administrator with the password Passw0rd.
Wait for the computer to restart, and then logon as Administrator with the password Passw0rd.
The verb form is two words, log on or log off. As a noun or adjective, use one word, no hyphen: logon or logoff.
Windows Server® 2019 Hyper-V™
Note the use of ® and TM. Once this has been spelled out correctly, you can then reference Hyper-V, or Windows Server Hyper-V.
Refer to the Trademarks section for a link to how to use different vendor trademarks.
cloud
Cloud
Note that cloud is lower case.
On the Start menu, navigate to All Programs\Microsoft Office\Word 2019.
On the Start menu, navigate to All Programs/Office/Word 2019.
Do not use / for Start menu commands.
In the Navigation pane, expand contoso.com/branch offices/Vancouver/sales, and then in the Details pane, click Tom.
In the Navigation pane, navigate to contoso.com\branch offices\Vancouver\sales, and then in the Details pane, click Tom.
In a Management Console, use expand for navigating tree structures, and use a /. Make sure you reference the Navigation pane and the Details pane. Do not use a \.
On the File menu, click Open.
On the File menu, click Open.... On the File menu, click Open(...).
In the user interface, an ellipsis is typically used to show truncation, as in a program name, or to indicate on menus and in dialog boxes that a dialog box will appear to obtain more information from the user. Do not use an ellipsis in this context in documentation.
Right-click XXX, and then click Properties.
Right-click XXX, and then select Properties. Right-click XXX, and then choose Properties.
When you right-click something, you are presented with a context menu. You click items on a context menu, rather than choosing or selecting them.

Acronyms and Initialisms

The term, acronym, is used when the letters can be pronounced as a word. Initialism is the correct term to use when the first letters cannot be pronounced as a word. HOL or ILL can be either.
Spell these out at first mention, for example: System Center Virtual Machine Manager (VMM). Note that, in this example, the Microsoft initialism is VMM, not SCVMM. One often sees both, but by visiting Microsoft Docs pages, you can see that the correct initialism is VMM.

Trademarks

You can usually confirm trademarks using different vendors websites.

Bold Formatting

In this document style, only UI elements that a user interacts with should be bold. Ensure that the UI element is bold, but any punctuation following the UI term is not bold.

Periods (Full Stops)

It is acceptable to miss a period at the end of a sentence if it ends with a password such as:
Enter the following password &s6&90saiis9*

Initial Caps

Initial caps mean capitalising the first letter of a word. Use initial caps for:
  • File names. Internal caps are OK for readability, as in MyFile.doc. The file extension should be lowercase. Examples: MyTaxFile.doc, Oleaut.dll.
  • Agenda items in slide presentations
  • Folder names (internal caps are OK for readability)
  • Mode names (Break mode)
  • Named views (Gantt view)
  • Named windows (the Edit window)
  • Proper names (the Insert menu)
  • “Wizard” when used as part of a proper name of a wizard (for example, the Answer Wizard)

Sentence Case

In sentence case, you capitalise only the first letter in a sentence or phrase. Use sentence case for all task titles.

Title Case

Use this for the exercise titles and lab titles.
  • Capitalise all nouns, verbs (including is and other forms of be), adverbs (including than and when), adjectives (including this and that), and pronouns (including its).
  • Capitalise the first and last words, regardless of their parts of speech ("The Text to Look For").
  • Capitalise prepositions that are part of a verb phrase ("Backing Up Your Disk").
  • Do not capitalise articles (a, an, the) unless the article is the first word in the title.
  • Do not capitalise coordinate conjunctions (and, but, for, nor, or, yet, so) unless the conjunction is the first word in the title.
  • Do not capitalise prepositions of four or fewer letters unless the preposition is the first or the last word in the title.
  • Do not capitalise “to” in an infinitive phrase ("How to Format Your Hard Disk") unless the phrase is the first word in the title.
  • Capitalise the second part of a hyphenated compound if it would be capitalised without the hyphen. Always capitalize the second part of a hyphenated compound if it is the last word of a heading or title.