I'm building a user interface for a program which connects to some external device. Among other things, the UI displays certain values being reported by the device, which in English I've grouped under the category of "parameters" (as opposed to "settings" since the user cannot change their values). You can think of these as temperature, how many hours the device has been running, etc.

The word I'm looking for is one in a list of other words, which logically group the functionality and are listed in a navigation pane; these are things like Logs, Settings, Firmware, etc.

The UI will be used by technicians (end-users) and engineers (superusers), and will be offered in Germany and localized to both English and German, where I'm told that German users using the English interface will interpret 'parameter' as "setting", meaning a value that the user can change, since this is the most common meaning of the German word 'Parameter'. I argued (unsuccessfully) that 1) the usage of the word in English is correct, and 2) that the term 'Parameter' in German also seems to mean "a value which is held constant"1.

Alternatives like 'properties' and 'characteristics' were suggested, but I'm not convinced by either as they could be misinterpreted as referring to physical properties or characteristics of the device itself (i.e. the hardware and not the values being reported by it). I'm not partial to 'status' either as it could be confused with the status of the connection to the device, and, because of design, having a category labeled 'Status' simply doesn't gel with the rest of the labels. If I can't find a better alternative, though, this would probably be the closest I'll be able to get.

Can you think of another word to group and label these values in a user interface, which stresses the fact that they are read-only values and therefore not editable?

  • 1
    Wow! One of those questions that demonstrates the OP's superb clarity of thought. Having said that, you yourself have listed the meanings, alternatives and why they are unsuitable for your UI design. Therefore, I'm afraid Parameters is your best bet. For what it's worth, I offer you specifications or specs in short.
    – BiscuitBoy
    Commented Jan 13, 2016 at 14:03
  • Could "External values" "Device values" "Device output values" "Read values" be clear enough ?
    – P. O.
    Commented Jan 13, 2016 at 14:21
  • 1
    You might consider measurements, measured values, or reported values
    – Jim Mack
    Commented Jan 13, 2016 at 15:00

3 Answers 3


Sounds like your information display is a "readout." If so, the information as a whole is also called "the readout" and the individual items are "readings."

readout -- computers : a small screen that shows information; also : the information shown on such a screen -- http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/readout

reading -- noun 5. [countable] a number or amount shown on a piece of measuring equipment -- http://www.macmillandictionary.com/dictionary/american/reading#reading__7

state -- (might fit better than "status") -- noun 1. the condition of something at a particular time -- http://www.macmillandictionary.com/dictionary/american/state_1


I would recommend 'signal'. It was traditionally used exactly for these scenarios (I'm old) in the early days of programming.


There's nothing in English that would indicate that a property is physical within this context; properties are commonly used as jargon when discussing the parts of classes/interfaces. However, it seems like there may be something from the German-end that makes this less desireable, such as your predicament with using parameter. That puts us in an awkward position, as this is an English-centric part of StackExchange, and we shouldn't be accountable for things lost in translation unless they are explicitly mentioned up-front, such as parameters.

I would have chosen diagnostics, or diagnostic info/information.

Alternatively, I support what lauir chose, readout or state, both of which serve well.

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