Describing alternative input methods

If you use input-neutral methods in instructions, provide an article that explains how to interact with the product using each available input method. (The article can be in the product or included in documentation or Help.) To support customers regardless of their ability or the device they use, include mice, keyboards, voice recognition devices, game controllers, touch, and other interaction methods.

Learn more To learn more about creating accessible content, see Accessibility guidelines and requirements.

Mouse procedures

Be consistent in how you list mouse procedures. For example, always list the mouse method before the keyboard method if you document both. Don't combine keyboard and mouse actions as if they were keyboard shortcuts unless space is limited. For example, don't use Shift+click. Instead, use Select Shift while clicking ….

See also Mouse and mouse interaction term collection

Joystick procedures

Assume that the mouse is the primary input device. Include joystick information in a table along with other alternative input devices.

Refer to joystick controls, not options, when you provide specific joystick procedures.

Keyboard procedures

Always document keyboard procedures for accessibility, even if they're indicated in UI (for example, by underlined letters).

See also Keys and keyboard shortcuts term collection

Pen-computing and touch procedures

Use tap and double-tap instead of click and double-click when writing content specific to touching a screen or using a tablet pen. Tap means to press the screen with a finger or pen tip and then to lift it, usually quickly.

Term Usage
tap Use to describe selecting a button, icon, or other element on the screen with a finger or the pen by tapping it once. Don't use tap on.
double-tap Use to describe selecting an item by tapping twice in rapid succession. Hyphenate. Don't use double-tap on.
tap and hold Use only if the app requires it to complete a specific interaction. Don't use touch and hold.
pan Use to describe moving the screen in multiple directions at a controlled rate, as you would pan a camera to see different views. For contact gestures, use pan to refer to moving a finger, hand, or pen on the device surface to move through screens or menus at a controlled rate, rather than quickly skipping through content using the flick gesture. Don't use drag or scroll as a synonym for pan.
flick Use to describe moving one or more fingers to scroll through items on the screen. Don't use scroll.
swipe Use to describe a short, quick movement in the direction opposite to how the page scrolls. For example, if the page scrolls left or right, swipe an item up or down to select it.

See also Touch and pen interaction term collection

Multiple input methods and branching within procedures

You can document multiple input methods in various ways, depending on the content design, space restrictions, and other considerations. Some approaches are discussed below.

List the steps in a table, and provide a separate column for each input method.
Example
Choose colors to use on webpages
To make webpages easier to see, you can change the text, background, link, and hover colors in Internet Explorer.

Step Mouse actions Keyboard actions
1 On the Start menu:
  • Click Internet Explorer.
Display the Start menu by pressing the Windows logo key:
  • Select Internet Explorer by using the arrow keys, and then press Enter.
2 In Internet Explorer:
  • Click the Tools menu.
  • Click Internet Options.
In Internet Explorer:
  • Select the Tools menu by pressing Alt+T.
  • Select Internet Options by pressing O.

Document the primary input method, and provide the alternative instructions in parentheses or separate sentences after the main instructions.
Examples
To pan, slide one finger in any direction (or drag the mouse pointer, or use the arrow keys).
To copy the selection, click Copy on the toolbar. You can also press Ctrl+C.

If there are multiple ways to perform an entire procedure and you must describe each one, use a table to detail the alternatives. This approach helps the customer decide when to use which method.
Example
This table describes two ways to save a file.

To Do this
Save changes to the file and continue working. On the File menu, click Save.
Save changes to the file and close the program. On the File menu, click Exit. If a dialog box asks whether you want to save changes, click Yes.

If one step has an alternative, make that alternative a separate paragraph in the step. In a single-step procedure, an alternative can be separated by the word or to make it clear that an alternative is available.
Examples
Press the key for the underlined letter in the menu name. You can also use the Left arrow key or the Right arrow key to move to another menu.

  • Press Alt+the key for the underlined letter in the menu name.

or

  • Use the Left arrow key or the Right arrow key to move to another menu.

For several choices within one procedure step, use a bulleted list.
Example
1. Select the text that you want to move or copy. Do one of the following:

  • To remove the selection, click Cut on the Quick Access Toolbar.
  • To copy the selection, click Copy on the Quick Access Toolbar.

2. Right-click where you want to insert the text, and then click Paste on the Quick Access Toolbar.