Guidelines for Displaying Text Effectively
CS 252, Winter 2000


The guidelines presented here are based on a variety of experimental studies as well as practical experimentation with user interfaces. Each guideline is presented with an explanation and a specific example.


Guidelines for Displaying Text

Adapted from Joseph S. Dumas, Designing User Interfaces for Software, Prentice-Hall, 1988.

(1) Display text using mixed (upper and lower) case and with normal punctuation.


(2) Keep lines to a reasonable length, and put a blank line between paragraphs.


(3) Use upper-case words and boldface words only when you need to highlight them.


(4) Left justify text, leaving a ragged right margin.


(5) Avoid hyphenation of words between lines.


(6) Use abbreviations and acronyms only (a) when they are significantly shorter than the full text and (b) when they will be understood by all users.


From B. Shneiderman, Designing the User Interface, Addison-Wesley, 1992.

(1) Use familiar and consistent terminology.


(2) Ensure that items are distinct from one another.


(3) Use consistent and concise phrasing.


(4) Bring the keyword to the left.