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Gale 11Dec12: This page is not exported to the Manual so please do not translate it.


Wording and punctuation

These are our suggested guidelines for consistency in wording. Please add to them, or comment if a change is thought desirable.

  • US English ... examples:
    • "behavior" not "behaviour"
    • "check/uncheck the box" not "tick/untick the box"
    • "color" not "colour"
    • "dialog" not "dialogue"
    • "gray/grayed" not "grey/greyed"
    • "labeling" not "labelling"
    • "normalize" not "normalise"
  • Abbreviations should not be used for commonly used phrases - "for example", not "e.g."; "and similar", not "etc."
  • Audacity when used as the proper name of our editor must be capitalized - "Audacity", not "audacity".
  • Click versus Press versus Hit versus Choose: "Click" on a button UI element, not "press"; "Choose" an item from a menu or a list, not "click" ; "Press" a keyboard key, not "hit" it.
  • "Command-line", not "Command line"
  • Commas (multiple): when used in a sentence or phrase should not include the final comma, so should not be used at all to divide two concepts, for example, "use the amplify or normalize effect" not "use the amplify, or normalize effect" and "the advantages are in accessibility, portability and cheapness" not "the advantages are in accessibility, portability, and cheapness"
  • Crossfade, not "cross fade" or "cross-fade" EXCEPT when discussing Audacity's "Cross Fade In" and "Cross Fade Out" effects (which do not perform crossfades).
  • File formats should be fully capitalized without preceding period (full stop), so:
    • "MP3", not "Mp3", "mp3" or ".mp3"
    This seems closest to general usage and makes it the most distinct from surrounding text without confusing due to the period (though strictly, that is more correct).
  • File name (two words) not "filename".
  • Fractions are usually written out as text for clarity, and hyphenated: "two-thirds" not "2/3 or "two thirds".
  • Frequencies: Use values in Hz, not kHz in almost all cases. This matches with the Audacity interface almost everywhere, and prevents confusion in novices if mixing units. For example, "the frequency can vary between 200 Hz and 2 kHz" is very strongly discouraged. If it is necessary to refer to a UI element where kHz is actually displayed (for example, in the Graphic EQ slider tooltips), then kHz should be used with the corresponding Hz value in brackets for comparison.
  • Hyphens: "right-click" and "double-click" not "right click" and "double click" ; "downward-pointing" not "downward pointing"; "drop-down" not dropdown. Note that there are no spaces between the hyphen. If separating clauses in a sentence, use a single hyphen with a single space either side. Always use hyphens; dashes (longer) in text are not allowed.
  • Internet: "e-mail" not "email"; "web site" not "website" (although modern usage often favours "email" and "website", it isn't logical)
  • Keyboard or mouse shortcuts should be referred to as "shortcuts", not "hotkeys". Use upper case, and "+" not "-" to separate key presses (generally, this should make them more readily understood), so "CTRL + 1" not "CTRL-1" or "ctrl-1". The actual shortcut should be included inside <span class="key"></span> tags as described at Spans and Divs.
  • Menu paths are formatted inside <span class="menu"></span> tags ( or {{menu|...}} ) and navigation arrows should be indicated by " > ", not "->".
  • Numbers have no spaces or commas ("44100 Hz", not "44,100 Hz " or "44 100 Hz"). Any numbers over a million (probably none) we'll consider if they arise. Generally, numbers less than 10 are written out as text ("five tracks" not "5 tracks", "this happens two times" not "this happens 2 times").
    An exception to this is where the number is a unit of measurement - hence "0.5 seconds" is preferred to "half a second", and "4 bits" to "four bits".
  • Quotes are inside double quotes, not single, so " ", not ' '
  • Software/hardware terminology: opinions vary but we choose the most common pro usage or the most common in US English if there is no consensus:
"cut-off" (noun), not "cutoff" or "cut off"
"resampling", not "re-sampling"
"rolloff" (noun), not "roll-off" "or roll off"
"sound card", not "soundcard"
  • "in synchronization" , not "in sync"; "synchronized" not "synced" unless explicitly referring to an Audacity GUI element that says "Sync"*
  • Units: "dB" not "db", "seconds" and "milliseconds" not "s" and "ms". "inch" or "inches", not '' or ". "mm" is acceptable for millimetres. There must always be a space between the value and the unit (for example, "10 dB" not "10dB").

GUI Elements

  • "mouse pointer", not "mouse cursor"
  • "plug-ins", not "plugins" or "Plug-Ins"
  • "selection region", not "selection area" because menus refer to "regions"
  • "Timeline", not "ruler" or "horizontal ruler" or "time ruler"
  • "Time Shift Tool", not "Move Tool"
  • "Track Drop-Down Menu", not "Track Pop-Down Menu" (items "drop" down or "pop" up)
  • "Toolbar", not "Tool Bar"


Technical words or phrases should be linked to in the glossary rather than explained in situ as a one-off. Glossary links are surrounded by five (5) sets of single-quotes, which makes them bold italic. Please keep them non-capitalised (unless at the start of a sentence). They are probably best avoided in summary "quick text" (which should avoid the need for them where possible) but should be used the first time the word or phrase is used in detailed text.


This is a '''''[[Glossary#log|logarithmic]]''''' scale.

Which gives:

This is a logarithmic scale.


Glossary link information:

'''''[[Glossary#link|DISPLAY TEXT]]'''''

"Glossary" designates the Glossary page, and is also used as the hover text. #link must not contain spaces and is case sensitive. Currently all links are in lower case and do not contain colons. Use underscores for spaces. Thus the link for Hz is #hz, AIFF is #aiff, MP3 is #mp3, and Dynamic range is #dynamic_range.

Note that some link names are not straight forward. Notably, logarithmic is #log, dB is #decibel, Ogg Vorbis is #ogg, and Audio CDs is #audio_cd. If you have any question, view the source of the Glossary page and search for '<td id="xyz'.



The page title will render as a first order heading, so place the primary headers in your text inside second order tags (two equals signs) thus:

== Primary heading ==

Use incremental headings in the structure, so that second level headings in your text are third order headers:

=== Secondary heading ===

then third level headings are inside fourth order headers and so on.

Capitalization of headers: If the header describes an interface item, be sure to respect the capitalization of that item as it appears in the interface. Otherwise, capitalize only the first word (except that any proper names should be capitalized wherever they occur).

Note: Stick to one line of space before each of the different order headings. On the main Wiki we find two empty lines before h2 works well, but the best solution is to change the css to give a little more space above h2.

Non-headered headings

These are not enclosed in == headers and may or may not be preceded by a bullet. These headings must be in bold, must end with a colon (:), and the first word of the following text should be capitalized viz:

Device: Selects the Device for playback.

Again, always capitalize the first word of the heading, and respect the capitalization of a menu item as is.

If the text after the headered or non-headered heading describes an interface item: Do not start the text with "This" or "<name of the item>" as it becomes wearisome. "This parameter amplifies the audio" or ""Copy in" chooses how uncompressed audio is handled" are wrong. It should be "Amplifies the audio" or "Chooses how..." even though this is not a complete sentence.

Page families

Pages may fall into families according to their purpose and pages within a family should share the same style of layout. Layout to use for some families is still being discussed.

Decisions made:

  • individual Preferences tabs:
    • enclose the name of each static box or panel section inside second order headers (==)
    • then use a bulleted list for items within the static box or panel section. The first text in each list item should be the name of the item within the box or section, followed by a colon, both in bold. The first word of the succeeding text should be capitalized. For example:
  • Axis: Determines if a linear or logarithmic scale is used.
  • individual Menu pages:
    • Each menu item is enclosed in second order tags e.g.
      ==Remove Audio==
    • Submenus are enclosed in third order tags e.g.
      ===Split Delete===
    • The Edit Menu is a special case requiring a custom index due to its length and complexity.
Historical note:
  • The idea of starting each menu page with an image of the menu and "quick text" decribing each menu item beside the menu image (using a table) has been abandoned. It proved very difficult to write text that explains enough, without becoming merely a summary duplication of the main text, and without becoming too long in the long menus like File Menu. The wasted white space to left of the quick text was another problem.

Templates, Spans and Divs

Note on use of templates versus spans and divs

Before May 2012 all text highlighting and "info boxes" were created using spans and divs respectively.

Since then templates are required for the advice and alert boxes. Intro, note and ednote boxes can be created with divs or templates at the editor's discretion.

Editors can continue to use either a template or a span for text highlighting. However, templates are required for the "on-screen button" highlighting that includes an image of the button element (checkbox, radio button or dropdown menu triangle).

Templates require less typing. Editors are encouraged to use templates in new text.

If the text in a box exceeds a few lines, start a new paragraph (not just a new line) at a logical break in the text.

Warning icon See Help:Editing for a "gotcha" when using spans and styles inside a shortcut. It is easier to use templates inside of templates

The intro box

 <div class="intro">...</div> or {{intro|...}}
For use at the top of many pages to highlight an introductory paragraph that summarizes the following contents. Generally the intro should not exceed five or six lines, and would not be needed unless the main text was several paragraphs long.
Use the <note> div below if what you are highlighting is not at the top of the page.
This is an intro div / template

The note box

<div class="note">...</div>  or {{note|...}}
    • The main use is as a "tip" or "hint" - extra non-essential pieces of information which may be of particular interest only to a subset of users, or to someone who already knows 90% of what has been written and is just skimming.
    • Another valid use (but only with considerable discretion and say, only once per three or four scrolls) is to highlight information, merely to break up the text a bit. Consider an image in preference to break the text up, as that may actually save some text.
Note: There is also a {{hint|...}} template that has identical formatting to the note div and template. This template exists to facilitate transfer of text from the main wiki to the manual.

The advice box

Use in exceptional circumstances to highlight some text with yellow background and a warning icon that describes something that requires care or attention. It is more important than a note but less dire than an alert. For example, use it in a case like this:
Warning icon
  • For overdubbing the headphones must be plugged into the USB device not the computer. Your live sound will be delayed (off rhythm) and you can't easily change it.
  • If the USB device does not appear in the Device Toolbar check that the USB device is connected correctly then try Transport > Rescan Audio Devices.

The alert box

Use in exceptional circumstances to highlight some text with pink background that describes something that is dangerous or should never be done. For example, use it in a case like this:
Warning icon This is an alert template.

Never press this button when you are recording!

The editornote box

<div class="editornote">...</div> or {{ednote|...}}
  • The only use is as a means of conversing between editors. It is only visible to logged in editors. Editors are encouraged to include their name and the date in bold for any such note:

Editor'sName 31Jan12: a note

  • Another Editor's name 1Feb12: reply indented to display to which message the reply correlates.
    • Editor'sName 31Jan12: a reply to the previous reply

Name 1Feb12: a new note topic

The menu highlight

 <span class="menu">...</span> or {{menu|...}}

For use to highlight a sequence of menus, buttons or similar with orange background. For example, use it in a case like this:

{{menu|Edit > Select > All}} to produce Edit > Select > All.

This is only for use for a navigation sequence. A single button, menu or GUI element (e.g. a Preview button when you reach the intended dialogue) should not be formatted with this span.

  • Any menu selection is considered a "sequence" as it requires two clicks to make the menu selection.
  • An instruction to check the state of a menu item should not be formatted with this highlight. For example:
    • Choose the "Transport" menu and make sure that "Sound Activated Recording (on/off)" is not checked.
  • On screen buttons that have text should be formatted with the button template and its variants (see below).

Normally (at least in first use in a page), a menu sequence will link to the appropriate endpoint anchor in the Manual. In this case, we only make the anchor take a link, so that the user only has one link to click on to reach the anchor, but still realises that two clicks are needed in the menus. Example:

File > Check Dependencies... which is written as:
<span class="menu">File > [[File Menu#Check Dependencies...|Check Dependencies...]]</span>
or alternatively as:
{{menu|File > [[File Menu#Check Dependencies...|Check Dependencies...]]}}

Special menu highlight for use in advice boxes: menuadvice

{{advice|Use {{menuadvice|Edit > Remove Audio > Split Delete}}}}
Warning icon Use Edit > Remove Audio > Split Delete

Special menu highlight for use in alert boxes: menualert

{{alert|Use {{menualert|Edit > Remove Audio > Split Delete}}}}
Warning icon Use Edit > Remove Audio > Split Delete
  • Bill 12May12: I have a query about navigating to, for example, a preference pane and then a selection therein. For example, do we write:
Choose Edit > Preferences > Recording ...
or do we write
Choose Edit > Preferences, then select the Recording tab ...

I do not like the former as it suggests that "Recording" is a sub-menu of "Preferences".

  • Similarly for:
    Choose  > System Preferences > Sound ...
    Choose  > System Preferences then the Sound Panel ...
    • Gale 13May12: I think "Edit > Preferences" is probably out because of Mac. If we were to use it and accept it' s wrong for Mac, then Edit > Preferences: Recording is my choice. On the whole I think the better answer could be "Go to the Preferences then choose the Recording section". I have become a bit disenchanted with using "tab" for the section of Preferences, though I think it's better than "pane" or "page".

      We need to change the editorote div colour so we can see menu spans.

  • Bill 13May12:
    • I agree that "Go to the Preferences then choose the Recording section" is preferable. I usually write "section" instead of "tab", since they are not, strictly speaking, tabs.
    • We can change the editornote colour, or we can use menuadvice just for visibility in editornotes.

The shortcut highlight

 <span class="shortcut">...</span> or {{shortcut|...}}
For use to highlight a keyboard or mouse shortcut with purple-gray background and bold italicized text. For example, use it in a case like this:

<span class="shortcut">CTRL + A</span> or {{shortcut|CTRL + A}} to produce CTRL + A.
    • Use shortcut spans or templates also for the SHIFT component of a SHIFT-modified click or arrow press, for example:
      • hold SHIFT and click in the track
      • hold SHIFT while using LEFT or RIGHT.
    • Use shortcut spans for unmodified keys when they quality as a shortcut
      • press the C key to hear the audio 2 second before and 1 second after the selection
      • press SPACE to start playback
    • In general, any shortcut listed on Keyboard Shortcut Reference should be highlighted with this span or template, as should a modifier used with the mouse in Mouse Preferences.
    • Do not use shortcut spans or templates for pressing a key on its own when it is not part of a shortcut. In these cases, use the kbrd span or template (see below). See the examples at Metadata Editor.
Note: There is also a {{key|...}} template and a key span that have identical formatting to the shortcut template and span. This template and span were previously used to highlight shortcut keys. They may still be found throughout the manual, but the shortcut template or span is preferred for new pages, and when editing existing pages.

The kbrd highlight

 <span class="kbrd">...</span> or {{kbrd|...}}
For use to highlight a key press which is not part of a shortcut. For example, use it in a case like this:

<span class="kbrd">Return</span> or {{kbrd|Return}} to produce Return.

See the above shortcut span and template description for instances where that span/template should be used instead of the kbrd span/template

The button templates

  <span class="button">...</span> or {{button|...}}}
For use to highlight an on-screen rectangular dialog button with plain text on a light gray background with a medium gray border.

Only use the button span for buttons that actually have text on the button. Therefore usage with toolbars that have their own unique button images is not appropriate - use an image of the button instead.

For example, use the button span in a case like this:

Click the <span class="button">Export...</span> button or Click the {{button|Export...}} button to produce Click the Export... button.

  • Use of other button templates
The following button templates can be used to highlight on-screen radio buttons, checkboxes and drop-down menus:
{{RadioSelected|Ask User}}
Image of selected radio button Ask User

{{RadioNotSelected|Do not copy any audio}}
RadioNotSelected.png Do not copy any audio

{{CheckboxChecked|Ergonomic order of transport toolbar buttons}}
CheckboxChecked.png Ergonomic order of transport toolbar buttons

{{CheckboxNotChecked|Show 'How to Get Help' dialog box at program startup}}
CheckboxNotChecked.png Show 'How to Get Help' dialog box at program startup

From the File Type drop-down menu, choose {{DropdownMenu|MP3 files}}
From the File Type drop-down menu, choose MP3 files  MenuDownArrow.png
Note the usage of the DropdownMenu template: the actual selection made in the drop-down menu is highlighted, not the title of the menu.

Tables of Contents

In view of the disruption these cause to layout on reference pages, and given they don't really aid accessibility, we now force hide them on all such pages by adding __NOTOC__ .

Other Tables


User a superscript in a table underneath (to stop the text wrapping underneath the superscript). Example:

|The long and short jump times can be set in [[Playback Preferences]].
(1) The long and short jump times can be set in Playback Preferences.

This can also be written using the footnote template:

{{footnote|1|The long and short jump times can be set in [[Playback Preferences]].}}
(1) The long and short jump times can be set in Playback Preferences.


Settings content

Images of an Audacity window or dialog should contain Audacity default settings which can be obtained by initializing Preferences.


If images are nearly full screen width, they should be centered by piping "center" in the image link. Less wide images should be left indented by preceding the image link with a single colon (:). Their left edge should then line up with the first word of bulleted text.


All images should fit without scrolling in a maximized web browser window at 1024x768, unless it is impossible to otherwise display them satisfactorily. Ideally, smaller images should fit without scrolling at 800x600 too. While images can be scaled by adding a pipe, for example [[File:Options.png|600px|mixing options]], this will significantly degrade the image quality. If the image won't fit the Manual without scrolling at 1024x768, consider capturing it at a different screen resolution, or scaling it in an image editor rather than browser scaling.

Hover/ALT Text

All images should carry alternative (ALT) text to facilitate readability by non-sighted or sight-impaired users employing screen readers. This text is also visible when hovering over the image with the mouse or if the image fails to load.

To include ALT text, add a pipe symbol " | " then the ALT text after the pipe, for example [[File:Amplify dialog.png|Amplify effect dialog]]

Note: The general received wisdom is: don't start the ALT text with "Image of".


Most images are of Windows 7 with basic theme unless noted otherwise, so it is preferable if new images of Windows 7 also have that theme. If a Windows 7 image is added with an "Aero" or non-default theme, point this out in the image text or hover text so that user does not think this image appears like this with Windows basic theme. Consider a Px to replace the image with basic theme when possible.

Drop Shadows

Bill 13Apr11: I think we need to have a discussion on the use of drop shadows on images. I have been adding subtle drop shadows to track images (since they are not full windows, and I think they look better). I have not been putting drop shadows on full window images, nor on toolbars, comboboxes and other interface elements. Ed has started putting drop shadows on everything, and his drop shadow effect is very dark.
So my take is that, for consistency, and before more images are updated, we need a policy on this.

Steve the Fiddle +1 for the lighter gray shadows. I also notice that the angle of the shadow appears to be different. I think that the shadow mostly below the image and a little to the sides looks OK and is similar to what I actually see on dialogue screens. I'm not sure exactly which elements should have drop shadow effects, but not combo boxes and similar interface elements.

Gale: Peter said on the Manual list that he does not like Ed's drop shadows. If we had them as Ed's Preferences dialogues were, we would have to do that for every real window like an effect dialog and the effect is I think far too gross. I think a policy of subtle drop shadow only for images that do not naturally have a sharply defined edge (with some latitude given to the image provider on what he does) worked OK and we should stick with it. Also see my comment in Talk:Warnings Preferences.

Bill: Ed doesn't like Ed's drop shadows either! When I started putting drop shadows on images I was working on the Edit Menu page. The track images on that page already had drop shadows on them and I tried to replicate the effect so that my new images would fit in. I liked the look and started doing it whenever I felt it worked. So +1 to "only for images that do not naturally have a sharply defined edge (with some latitude given to the image provider on what he does)".

Image Frames

We now don't use image frames in the Manual. They suggest (sometimes wrongly) that you can get at the essential page content by just reading the frames, often merely repeat the text, and can be too long for the ALT text they generate (ALT text should be about 12 words maximum).


This applies to both ordered and unordered lists:

  • The introductory text to a list has a colon at the end of it. We don't use a period, even if it's a complete sentence.
  • The first letter of each list item is in upper case.
  • We do not add punctuation at the end of list items, except we add a period if the item is a sentence, or if it is followed by a sentence.
  • In general, try to avoid mixing sentences and non-sentences in list items.

Reference section

  • The reference section should avoid tutorial exposition; it's kept brief, and links to tutorial sections as needed. (Should be viewed intelligently, so as to avoid shunting users around too much and avoiding creation of half-page "tutorials" for the sake of it which is a significant reason for our duplication problem).
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