What are the usual typographical conventions to set off text from the UI in a user manual?

For example, how should I style the text of the label on a button in:

Press the Submit button.

Or styling the text of labels and input values:

Select Gluten Free from the dropdown menu. The enter I also don't eat soy. in the Notes box.

  • 3
    I'd suggest graphicdesign.stackexchange.com since it's about typography and text styling. Oct 5, 2016 at 11:44
  • 2
    It's not about UI design, but about writing about UI design. Graphicdesign.stackexchange.com might be a good place. I'll try there. Oct 5, 2016 at 16:27
  • This looks to me like a question about a user manual, not one about a UI. I'm going to make a minor edit to make it sound less opinion-based. I think it should be reopened. Jan 28, 2017 at 23:35
  • 2
    Apparently I was one of the ones who voted to close this, but I was wrong. typographic conventions are most definitely part of technical writing and if we want technical writing questions here, we need to accept these questions. Voted to reopen.
    – user16226
    Jan 28, 2017 at 23:55

1 Answer 1


The style I see most often in technical writing is that UI labels, like the names of menus, are bold:

From the File menu, choose Save.

Click the Submit button.

Variable text is usually italic, but this comes up more for command-line interfaces than GUIs:

git checkout -b branch-name

In writing about a GUI you're more likely to describe what's needed, which doesn't require styling:

In the Path field, type the name of the top-level directory for the new project.

The Microsoft Style Guide calls for bold for GUI labels and italics for variables, as I've used them here.

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