Drop-Down Menus: Design Guidelines 

A drop-down menu appears when the user clicks its label, which remains visible when the menu is hidden. For guidelines on creating any type of menu, see Menus: Design Guidelines

  • When the user uses a shortcut key for a command in a drop-down menu, you should highlight the menu label, but do not display the drop-down menu itself.
  • Every command on a toolbar must be on a drop-down menu, too. This ensures both access key accessibility and discoverability (toolbars can be hidden).
  • Use unique menu labels across the menu bar or within an individual menu. Labels can be repeated in different menus when they represent similar actions.
  • If you provide user access to copyright and version information for your program, include an About [application name] command on the Help menu. When the user clicks this command, display a window containing the program's name, version number, copyright information, and any other information related to the application. You can display this information in a dialog box, or you can display the Version tab on the property sheet for the application's main executable file.
    Do not use an ellipsis[ … ] at the end of the About command. The resulting window does not require the user to provide any additional information.
  • If your program supports the Exit command, place this command at the bottom of the File menu, preceded by a menu separator.
  • Sometimes a command takes an ellipsis at the end. If the action is deferred (for instance, if an interim dialog box appears as a result), then the command takes an ellipsis. If the action occurs immediately, no ellipsis is needed.
    An ellipsis indicates to users that they have an opportunity to modify the task before it finishes.
    For certain standard commands with the implied verb "open" (such as Properties), use no ellipsis.

See Also


Access Keys
Check Boxes
Option Buttons
Shortcut Menus
Title Bars