5 Ways to Write Better Error Messages

When you write error messages for software development projects, follow these guidelines: Avoid vague wording. Give specific names and locations of the objects involved. Avoid “please.” It can be interpreted to mean that a required action is optional. Do not refer to implementation details that are invisible to the user. For example, do not refer […]

Error Messages: Do’s and Don’ts

Looking for guidelines to write better error messages? Do’s and Don’ts when writing error messages: Don’t Avoid the word “bad”. Use more descriptive terms to tell the user what is wrong. For example, avoid messages such as “Bad size”. Instead, tell the user what criteria to use when specifying a size. Avoid the word “please”. […]

How to Write Error Messages

Here’s a suggested approach to writing error messages: Create a spreadsheet. Give each error a number so you can track them. Add columns for the error message and the root cause. Establish an error message quality-control team. Create simple to follow writing guidelines for the error messages. Find best practices. Share with the team. Include […]

Error Messages: Mistakes to Avoid

Try to avoid the following: Anthropomorphize. Don’t suggest the software has feelings or thoughts, for example, the PC died. Instead, say, it stopped responding or is not available. Blame. Maybe the user was at fault, for example, entered text into a field meant for numbers. However, instead of saying this was wrong, bad, or illegal, […]

The Definitive Guide to Writing Error Messages

These guidelines will help you write error messages that are easy to update and useful for customers. Error messages are the first line of customer support. Poorly written error messages increase technical support costs. A well-written error message tells you, the user, the following: What has happened Why has it occurred How it impacts you, […]

User Guide Checklist

Use this checklist to write your User Guide. The checklist will help reviewers determine if the specifications meet the quality criteria and comply with development methodology requirements. Download 4 MS Word User Guide Templates General Information System Overview – introduce the system at a high-level and its relationship to others, if necessary. References – list […]

Sample Microsoft Windows Error Messages

The following is an example of error messages for Microsoft Windows XP: When you try to install a program that uses the Windows Installer in Microsoft Windows XP, the program does not install, and you may receive an error message that is similar to one of the following error messages: The Windows Installer service could […]

Oracle Error Message Guidelines

The following is an example of how Oracle writes error messages. Notice the format of the error message: · ORA-00058 – error number for tracking · DB_BLOCK_SIZE must be string to mount this database (not string) – description of error message · Cause: what caused the error to occur · Potential reasons: note the use […]

What is an Error Message?

Q: What is an error message? An error message describes a problem that stop a user or system from completing a task. An error message must include enough information for the user to solve the problem. What types of error messages are there? In general, there are three types of error messages: · Confirmations · […]

Error Message Writing Guidelines

Error messages should: Be helpful: explain how to fix the problem, avoid repeating it again, and saving any data you’ve entered, if possible Be specific: focus on one issue. Avoid general statements. Be precise: describe the issue in words I, the user, can understand. Educate: most users only read Help and tech docs when all […]