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I wish to describe just what gets saved when the user clicks the 'Save' button on a web page. Should I write "Clicking the Save button saves all changes" or "Clicking the the Save button will save all changes."

I don't want to use "Click the save button to save all changes", as I prefer my hints to have a less active form. The user knows they must click the Save button, but it is not obvious whether all changes are saved or only currently visible changes?

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"Clicking the Save button saves all changes" ordinarily is a false statement, as the button click is merely the step that starts a process that saves stuff, and does not itself save anything. Also, if you don't want to say "Click the save button to save all changes" you could instead say "To save all changes, click the save button," placing the emphasis where you want it, on save all changes. –  jwpat7 Feb 19 '12 at 15:20
    
@jwpat7 I find with your arrangement, the hypothetical user tends to ask, "What do I do to only save some changes?". My arrangement seems to me to better avoid that question, and I do wish to avoid it. –  ProfK Feb 19 '12 at 19:55
    
How does your user only save some changes? Or, if that is not an option, say "To save changes, click the save button". If there are no other Save buttons, the user will correctly suppose that "To save changes" refers to changes they have made. –  jwpat7 Feb 19 '12 at 20:04
    
@jwpat7 I thought I would spare the user the complex and extremely lengthy description of the set of physical changes, in terms of electron manipulation, that actually occur when they click the Save button. –  ProfK Feb 19 '12 at 20:05
    
@jwpat7 The interface is mainly tabstrip based, so the user can easily make changes on one tab, then switch tabs, make changes on the new tab, and assume that clicking the save button will only save the changes on the new tab. This is the main reason I am including any help text at all. I'd rather keep this discussion on the topic of my language to describe the UI as is, without getting into the question of perhaps having a save button on each tab. I'll ask that elsewhere. –  ProfK Feb 20 '12 at 8:26

4 Answers 4

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In this context, present and future tense are pretty much equivalent and interchangeable. Either one will work.

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Neither form is better than the other for removing the ambiguity, but both are otherwise valid. If you want to make it clear that changes that are not currently visible will also be saved, I suggest you mention this explicitly, e.g.

Clicking the Save button saves all changes, including changes that are not currently visible.

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Yes, thank you @user34900. My actual sentence is 'Clicking the 'Save' button will save the information in all four of the above tabs, not just the active tab.' I just used an abridged version for the question. –  ProfK Feb 19 '12 at 19:46

As the other replies indicate, both variants are correct and usual. An alternative would be to have the text of the button say: Save all changes and provide full details via a tooltip or label.

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I think "Clicking the Save button saves all changes" will sound better.

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