#305 – Guidelines for Defining Access Keys

Microsoft defines the following guidelines for defining access keys, in the Windows User Experience Interaction Guidelines.

  • Use wider characters for the access key  (e.g. avoid ‘i’, ‘I’)
  • Use a distinctive consonant or vowel  (e.g. _Sort rather than So_rt)
  • Avoid using characters that make it hard to see the underline  (e.g. characters with descenders, like ‘y’)
  • Assign an access key to every menu item
  • For dynamically created menu items (e.g. list of recent files), use numeric access keys
  • Assign unique keys within a particular menu
  • First choice is to use first character of first or second word in label
  • Assign an access key to every control in a window that takes input, or to a nearby label
  • Assign unique keys within a particular window or dialog
  • Don’t assign access keys for OK and Cancel buttons
  • Don’t assign an access key to a control that has no associated caption or label
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About Sean
Software developer in the Twin Cities area, passionate about .NET technologies. Equally passionate about my own personal projects related to family history and preservation of family stories and photos.

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