Guidelines on capitalization in Audacity dialogs and messages
Two styles of capitalization appear in in the Audacity User Interface:
- title caps (also referred to as book title capitalization) and
- sentence caps (also known as sentence-style capitalization).
There is a Quick Reference image to illustrate the guidelines.Developers may sometimes intentionally choose to break these guidelines if they think that they do not fit their particular GUI element, or QA usability testing reveals an advantage in doing so.
Capitalize the first letter of the first and last words. Capitalize the first letter of all words in between, with the exception of articles (a, an, and the); coordinating conjunctions (and, but, for, nor, or, so, and yet); and prepositions of four letters or fewer (at, for, with, into, etc.).
Use title caps for:
- Menu names and menu commands
- Button names
- Toolbars and toolbar button labels
- Title bar text (for dialog boxes)
- Column headings
- Command button labels
- Multi-choice menus
- Floating toolbars - although we can float our Audacity toolbars, we do not label or title them (except with hover-text)
We do not appear to have the following entities in Audacity. They are retained here in case we introduce them in the future
- Tab titles
- Palette titles - we may get these later if and when we reintroduce theming or color choices for track name display on the waveform
- Icon labels - we do not currently label any of our icons in Audacity
- Web and Web-like navigational elements (unless prohibited by the page design)
- Rescan Audio Devices
- Bass and Treble
- Check for Updates
- Regular Interval Labels
Capitalize only the first letter of the first word, and capitalize only those other words that are normally capitalized in sentences, such as proper nouns. Proper nouns include explicit Audacity entities such as Track Control Panel, Transport ToolBar, Scrub Bar, etc. Although these text strings may form complete sentences they are never terminated with a period (full-stop) in the Audacity GUI.
Use sentence caps for:
- Check box labels
- Text box labels
- Option (radio) button labels
- Note: Where the tooltip is a button that operates a menu item, the tooltip should use the title caps of the menu item. For example if we wanted to be verbose the Trim button tooltip could say "Trim Audio - keep only the selected audio".
- Infotips - An Infotip is a tooltip with a longer description, according to https://msdn.microsoft.com/en-gb/library/windows/desktop/dn742443(v=vs.85).aspx
- If an Infotip is comprised of multiple sentences than full sentence punctuation should be used, including terminating periods.
- Peter 12Jun16: Actually we are not very consistent about this - just look at the front page for starters. Personally I would always prefer any full sentence in use cases for sentence caps to be terminated with a period. But then maybe this should be the case for Info Tips (which may have multiple sentences) but not for Tool Tips, which are short and terse - I would vote for this approach.
- Status bar tips and messages
- Dialog box introductory or explanatory text
- List box entries
- List box labels
- Group box labels
- Web and Web-like page titles
- Alternate text (ALT text) used to describe images - note though, we don't incorporate images as such in Audacity
- Retain labels if selection snaps to a label edge
- Click and drag to select audio
- Ergonomic order of Transport Toolbar buttons
This at-a-glance reference demonstrates when and where to capitalize in the UI.
- Human interface guidelines Wikipedia article
- Graphical User Interface Design Notes by Carl Andersen