Labels clarify technical features of the software. It is therefore of paramount importance that they be human-readable, comprehensible, and descriptive.
Craft labels based on user goals and tasks, not on the underlying technology.
Keep labels short; be aware that translated English text can expand up to 50% in some languages.
…But don’t shorten your labels to the point of losing meaning. A three-word label that provides clear information is better than a one-word label that is ambiguous or vague. Try to find the fewest possible words to satisfactorily convey the meaning of your label.
Use the default systemwide font, size, and styling. Avoid using bold or italic text in controls’ labels. Nonstandard styling is only ever appropriate for title or header text, and even then, must be used sparingly to avoid overwhelming the content.
When the label is associated with another control, like a line edit, be sure to set the the line edit as the buddy of the label.
Avoid static text: long instructions or explanations within the user interface. Being tempted to add static text is a good sign that the software’s user interface is too complex and should be simplified.
Labels in Dialogs¶
If a dialog is user-initiated, title it using the command or feature name.
If it is application- or system-initiated (and therefore out of context), title it using the program or feature name to provide context.
Don’t use the title to explain what to do in the dialog. Ideally this should be self-explanatory; if it is not, consider simplifying the dialog’s user interface. If absolutely necessary, instructions should be provided with labels in the dialog itself.
Labels on Tabs¶
Tab labels should be identical to the title of their contents, if any. Otherwise, craft an appropriate title using nouns rather than verbs, and without any ending punctuation.
Don’t assign accelerator keys; tabs are already accessible through their shortcut keys (Ctrl+Tab & Ctrl+Shift+Tab).
Labels for Group boxes¶
Use group labels to explain the purpose of the group, ended with a colon to show a relationship.
Don’t assign accelerator keys.
Using Ellipses in Labels¶
Ellipses are used to indicate that a button or menu item will perform an action that always requires additional user input before completing. Use an ellipsis at the end of a menu item or button’s label only when the following circumstances apply:
The menu item or button must perform an action. Actions always begin with a verb, (e.g. “Show”, “Configure”, “Adjust”) and have a definite start and end
That action must always require additional user input to complete
Here are examples of menu items and buttons whose labels typically have ellipses:
Find and Replace…
Here are examples of menu items and buttons whose labels typically don’t have ellipses, along with the reason why:
About — not an action
Advanced Options — not an action
Close or Quit — action does not always require additional user input
Delete or Remove — action does not always require additional user input
Help — not an action
Print Preview — not an action
Properties — not an action
Toolboxes — not an action