October 19th, 2006


I'm working on some computer documentation at the moment, aimed at novice users, and I'm wondering about terminology. More specifically, I'm thinking about mouse buttons, since they are (or can be) reversed for someone who's left handed, meaning that the instruction "right-click on that folder" may not be accurate. The more generic phrasing that I've come across in the past refers to primary and secondary buttons, and then these logical concepts get assigned to physical buttons by the individual user. The problem is that most people won't know what they mean, and the terms get a bit more unwieldy. Since I'm writing for people who aren't very good with computers, I want to keep my instructions as simple as possible. The alternative would be to refer to standard button assignments ("left-click"/"right-click"), on the basis that this will be applicable to the majority of readers and the minority will probably be used to taking an extra step on their own.

So, a poll:

Poll #848791 Mouse buttons

What's the best way to refer to mouse buttons?

"Left click"/"right click"
"Primary click"/"secondary click"
"If you're right handed, click the left button. If you're left handed, click the right button."
Just tell people to RTFM and figure it out for themselves
Other (specified in comment)

Which way round is your mouse configured?

Right handed
Left handed