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Microsoft Manual of Style (4th Edition)

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Innovations in technology require great minds. Yet how many of those innovations would be lost on those they were created for without the dedication of writers and editors who are committed to ensuring their success? At Microsoft we are privileged to work every day with brilliant engineers who build amazing products for our customers. We are equally privileged to work with teams of creative writers and editors who, as the shepherds of language and quality, build the important bridges between the promise of technology and the ability to understand its use.

If you’ve spent any time at all as a writer or editor at Microsoft you’ve most likely had the experience of attending a session in one of our usability labs watching customers attempting to use early prototypes of a product. It’s often with mixed emotions that we watch customers who are unable, or only partially able, to use a new feature simply because the words on the user interface aren’t easy to follow or descriptive enough. We know the words in these early prototypes were probably created hastily by an overworked engineer using nerdy language that was not intended for primetime. We experience the frustration of both the engineer and the customer. And we know that, through language, we can make the customer experience much better.

The Microsoft Manual of Style is the reference tool that all teams at Microsoft use to help ensure language quality. This guide lays the foundation for the language in our products and services, which, at the time of this publication, reach more than 1.7 billion people worldwide in more than 100 languages. As the sponsor of this publication I am honored to have had the experience of working with Elizabeth Whitmire during the last year as she readied this reference for public use. Elizabeth, along with Microsoft Press, other members of my team and the talented team of editors who are members of the Microsoft Editorial Board, have worked diligently to create this reference. We hope that you will find the Microsoft Manual of Style useful, that it will save you a lot of time, and that your own endeavors with language quality and editorial excellence are innovative and fruitful!
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