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Watch Your Buttons: An Online Editing Step

We just ordered the new version of a prestigious style manual. The last step in placing the online order had these instructions:

Please confirm your order and click "Complete this order" to submit your order.

We looked for the "Complete this order" button. EDIT ORDER appeared on one button. CANCEL ORDER appeared on another. SUBMIT ORDER appeared on two buttons. 

It may seem like a small thing, but it slows down and frustrates Web visitors when you send them to a button they cannot find–because it doesn't have the name you used in your instructions.  

After a short pause, we clicked SUBMIT ORDER. The style manual is on its way. 

Writing tip: When you write for the Web, be sure your instructions match the name of your links and buttons–especially BUY buttons. Add "Check links and buttons" to your editing checklist. And be sure that step includes (1) clicking each link and button to see that it takes the reader where it should, and (2) confirming that its name is consistent with other content. 

What slows you down or frustrates you on the websites you visit? How can we improve business writing on the Web? 

Syntax Training

Posted by Lynn Gaertner Johnson
By Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston has helped thousands of employees and managers improve their business writing skills and confidence through her company, Syntax Training. In her corporate training career of more than 20 years, she has worked with executives, engineers, scientists, sales staff, and many other professionals, helping them get their messages across with clarity and tact.

A gifted teacher, Lynn has led writing classes at more than 100 companies and organizations such as MasterCard, Microsoft, Boeing, Nintendo, REI, AARP, Ledcor, and Kaiser Permanente. Near her home in Seattle, Washington, she has taught managerial communications in the MBA programs of the University of Washington and UW Bothell. She has created a communications course, Business Writing That Builds Relationships, and provides the curriculum at no cost to college instructors.

A recognized expert in business writing etiquette, Lynn has been quoted in "The Wall Street Journal," "The Atlantic," "Vanity Fair," and other media.

Lynn sharpened her business writing skills at the University of Notre Dame, where she earned a master's degree in communication, and at Bradley University, with a bachelor's degree in English. She grew up in suburban Chicago, Illinois.

4 comments on “Watch Your Buttons: An Online Editing Step”

  • It could take days to answer the question, “What slows you down or frustrates you on the websites you visit?”


  • I use my keyboard as much as possible instead of the mouse, and it frustrates me when the “tab” order of fields is not intuitive. Normally when logging in to a website, I can enter my user id, press tab once, and enter my password. There is one site I go to frequently where the link for “forgot your user id?” is in between the login and password fields, so I often end up on the “forgot” page when all I want to do is enter my password. It’s a minor complaint, but it’s still exasperating.

  • Thanks for your comments, Amy, Bill, and Arjay.

    Bill, your comment gave me a good laugh. Why not write a book on the subject?

    Arjay, your frustration is a good tip for webmasters. Perhaps someone will read your comment and make a change. We can hope!


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