For a large software package we are providing a small program giving small reference examples of [how to use] the capability of the main product. My mental image I have of this is akin to a needlework sampler (typically showing the alphabet font and some reference patterns).

For a modern technical audience the word sampler is unsuitable because of:

  • ambiguity with an audio sampler and other hi-tech derivatives of sample
  • the antiquity of the application of sampler I'm trying to convey - even for most Western colleagues it is meaningless
  • The audience is likely to be Asian, so needs to be something a non-native speaker of English would at least recognise for what it is

Immediate suggestions were:

  • Demonstrator but that has connotations of showing off the most exciting elements, not providing a reference set. It's a story not an alphabet. We will be separately providing a set of demos.
  • Examples, Illustrations, Specimens all suggest a complete unit (again a 'story' using my analogy, and not necessarily using all the letters of the alphabet). In any case I need a single name for a collective package. I want to provide one sampler to show many minimalist examples.

Other collective words such as compendium or collection again fall foul of the implication that each entry is complete and not just a sample fragment. Library also suffers from this, in addition to being ambiguous in the software world.

In summary, I'm looking for a word that suggests a single package of multiple minimal examples. Any suggestions?

Edit: For the avoidance of doubt I want a word for the collective, not the contents, therefore any plural word is not going to be suitable for my needs. We've considered (and rejected) anthology and digest but something along those lines would be good.

Edit 2: Apologies, I'd assumed it would be taken as read that the software will have user manuals, data samples, training material, demos and example applications. My problem is that this "sampler" needs a name that makes it distinct that it isn't one of the others.

  • 2
    Would just the word samples work for your purpose?
    – JLG
    Commented Jul 4, 2014 at 16:25
  • @JLG Thanks but no. It's a plural and I'm specifically looking for a singular name for the collection-of-samples. Think more along the lines of anthology, digest, etc. (which have already been rejected here.) Commented Jul 4, 2014 at 16:41
  • 1
    How about taster? Commented Jul 4, 2014 at 16:45
  • Then it’s a samples collection. These futile hunts for single words defeats the entire purpose of language, which is about using grammar to combine multiple words in infinitely many semantically significant ways.
    – tchrist
    Commented Jul 4, 2014 at 17:05
  • 1
    I'm not sure what this thing is but can it be a pilot version? For example, you can read an example here. Other than that, why not simply call it a "reference"? or a "handbook" (there are interesting synonyms such as "vade mecum" and "enchiridion" also). I can give as an answer if any of them fits to your idea.
    – ermanen
    Commented Jul 4, 2014 at 20:04

2 Answers 2


Consider recipe book or cook book.

They show you how to do various tasks, but not all tasks, and not all variations of a task..

  • Oh, I do like cook book. Your reasoning is spot on. Commented Jul 6, 2014 at 14:49
  • + Answer. No-one has provided better, and it exactly meets the criteria. Many thanks. Commented Jul 7, 2014 at 13:31

Consider the term primer

a small introductory book on a subject

While this term has been traditionally applied to a physical book, there is no reason it could not be used with digital materials.

You also could consider cheat sheet (sometimes written cheat-sheet)

A document containing summarized information used for quick reference

Note that this latter term is often applied to a forbidden aid used to cheat on exams.

  • These are good candidates, thanks +1. That I effectively have a 'primer' section to the User Manual already is something I could work around. Cheat sheet is rather more the function of the item - a set of small reference items to copy from, but primer sounds more professional. Commented Jul 4, 2014 at 19:49

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