Common controls should behave ‘common’ and look like everyday controls. Therefore, it is much recommended to use standard font. Bold or italic font should not be applied to control labels.


  • Keep labels short; be aware that translated English text can expand up to 30% in some languages.

  • Don’t shorten your labels to the point of losing meaning. However, 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.

  • 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.


  • If a dialog is user-initiated, identify it using the command or feature name.

  • If it is application- or system-initiated (and therefore out of context), label it using the program or feature name to provide context.

  • Don’t use the title to explain what to do in the dialog – that is the purpose of the main instruction.


  • Label command buttons with an imperative verb.

  • Don’t use ending punctuation for labels.

  • Describe the action that the button performs in a tooltip.

  • End the label with an ellipsis if the command requires additional information to execute.

  • Assign access keys to all buttons (Alt+Letter).


  • Label tabs based on their pattern. Use nouns rather than verbs, without ending punctuation.

  • Don’t assign an access key. Tabs are accessible through their shortcut keys (Ctrl+Tab, Ctrl+Shift+Tab).

Checkboxes and Radio buttons

  • Label every checkbox or radio button. Don’t leave checkboxes or radio buttons unlabeled.

  • Assign a unique access key to each label.

  • Labels must start with an active verb clearly defining the state to be enabled or disabled.

  • For a group, use parallel phrasing and try to keep the length about the same for all labels.

  • For a group, focus the label text on the differences among the options.

  • Use affirmative phrases. Don’t use negative phrases such as “Don’t enable wifi”. Instead, write “Enable Wifi”.

  • Describe just the option with the label. Keep labels brief so it is easy to refer to them in messages and documentation.

Group box

  • Use group labels to explain the purpose of the group, not how to make the selection.

  • End each label with a colon to show a relationship.

  • Don’t assign an access key to the label.

  • For a selection of one or more dependent choices, explain the requirement on the label.

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…

  • Find and Replace…

  • Open…

  • Print…

  • Replace…

  • Save As…

  • Send To…

  • Configure [something]…

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