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July 14, 2009

Press, Click, Select, or Choose?!?

Originally posted November 18, 2008 at MSDN.

This might be useful for Windows Mobile developers. Does your application display an error or informational message that begins with “Click here to….”? You might have noticed similar messages often begin with “Click” or “Press”. Which is the right word to use? Here are some variations of the same message:

  • “Click New to create a new message”
  • “Press New to create a new message”

The distinction always used to confuse me and I finally checked with someone on our content publishing team. The guideline is to use “Press” when referring to a hardware button and “Click” when referring to an item in the UI (e.g. soft keys, list items, push buttons etc.) Don’t use “Select”.


  • Click Talk to place a phone call [WRONG! Talk is a hardware button]
  • Press OK to continue [WRONG! OK is not a hardware button]
  • Select New to create a Contact [WRONG! Use “Click” or “Press”. Don’t use “Select”]

What about “Choose” vs “Select”? Use “Select” for your soft key label and dialog box title when picking an item from a list. For example, if you have a dialog box that allows the user to pick a time zone, the left soft key should be labeled “Select”, and the title should be “Select Time Zone”. Using “Choose” in the title bar will cause localization issues and also be inconsistent with the soft key.

I hope this explanation helps developers use the most consistent terminology in your Windows Mobile apps.