I'm writing a game that will be deployed on both web (mouse-based environment) and Android (touch-based environment).

I would like to say, "click here" (but that doesn't make sense in a touch environment) or "tap/touch here" (which doesn't make sense in a mouse-based environment).

So is there a word that can mean both, essentially a "click or tap"? Or am I stuck with "cilck or tap"?

Edit: The exact sentence is "Click/tap anywhere to return to the main menu."

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    Can you give more context to the phrase, and provide a full sentence where you plan to use it? – Craig Sefton Oct 21 '11 at 7:12
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    This seems more suited for English.SE. – justkt Oct 21 '11 at 11:59
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    Also see ux.SE - this is interface design, they handle that over there and have more expertise as to what the user will understand. – Yamikuronue Oct 21 '11 at 13:04
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    @ashes999 - feel free to open a meta discussion, but word choice is listed as on-topic at English.SE and while it is a case-by-case basis here at the moment, we have historically moved many word choice questions to English. – justkt Oct 21 '11 at 20:27
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    Can't understand the DVs myself, thought it was a reasonable enough question, even if it was in the wrong place. – Craig Sefton Oct 22 '11 at 6:50

From a non-technical stand point, "click" is fine. Though using the word "tap" will give the user a feeling that it is designed with them in mind, they won't notice if it isn't there.

However, from a design stand point, you should never say "click here". For instance, you would never say "To search for a topic on Google, click here" A best practice in making buttons or links in applications or webpages is to omit needless words. You would rather say, "Use Google to search for a topic." You wouldn't have a button that says "Click Here" and next it say "to submit." You would rather have a button that says "Submit." The user will know that they need to click or tap a link or button without you having to explicitly tell them.

PS - From a completely technical stand point, the programmer can use an if/else statement to test for whether the user is coming from a device with a mouse or a phone with a touch screen.

EDIT: In your edit, you give the exact sentence in question. I would suggest using as little wording as possible. Perhaps a button that simply says "Main Menu."

Though it appears we are straying from the topic of writing, I think this actually still applies. UI design, like writing, has a definitive stream of consciousness. First this, then that. Using a concept the user/reader is not used to can bring them out of the flow of the app/prose. Also, avoid being passive in your sentence. It is the difference between "The meeting will be held at 7" and "The meeting's at 7."

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    If I understand you right, you're saying that mobile/handheld device users understand "click" to mean tap? I find it to be a bit odd personally. – ashes999 Oct 21 '11 at 15:32
  • Seeing your ETA, I have to second PortableWorld's suggestion. If your sentence in context is "hit any key," then give the user an Any key. Set up a "return" button, and if the user misses it, s/he won't notice or care. – Lauren Ipsum Oct 21 '11 at 16:23
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    If you are making a web app, you should use the word "click" since it has been associated with web actions since Berners-Lee thought up the idea of hyper-links. If you are designing a web app and a native Android app, you should use "click" on one and "tap" on the other. However, like I said, you shouldn't have to tell the user "Tap here". If they see a button, they know to tap it. You should say what it does instead. "Submit", "Attack", "Cook Bacon", "Release the Hounds", etc. – PortableWorld Oct 21 '11 at 17:36

I worked with a software documentation team that decided to used the word press to mean both click and tap in a GUI that supported both platforms.

eg: "Press the red button to save your data"

I thought they found just the right amount of ambiguity.

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I'm actually okay with "click" for a touch-based environment. The GUI started as mouse-based, so everyone knows that the action to activate a function is a "click." When it was ported to touchscreens, it was explained as "to click on an icon, tap the screen." It's like the idea of "dialing" a phone with buttons. There is no dial, but that is the right word to use.

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    People don't say dial anymore. We say "call" or "phone" <person X>. – ashes999 Oct 21 '11 at 15:32
  • Maybe it's a generational thing? – Lauren Ipsum Oct 21 '11 at 15:45
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    I'm not old enough for that lol, nice try though – ashes999 Oct 21 '11 at 15:53
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    "Call Sally." "Okay, I'll call her right now." "Are you calling her yet?" "Yes, I'm dialing the number as we speak." (People still do use the word 'dial' when it comes to entering a number into a phone. No one says, "I'm tapping the number as we speak") – PortableWorld Oct 21 '11 at 18:07

"Touch" might work in some cases. "Push" works for buttons.

As others have said, consider making the choice of word depend on the runtime environment, akin to the way programmers internationalize software. Instead of writing "Click" or "Tap" directly into your text, you refer to a variable whose value is specified in a configuration file. In the Android configuration file, the value would be "touch" or "tap". In the web configuration file, it would be "click". I don't know whether Android's Java uses Properties files, but if so, that might be a good mechanism.

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  • I've never heard the term "push" used to describe an element in the UI (on-screen), in the desktop context. The mouse button is pushed, because it can be physically move and thus be 'pushed' somewhere. Click, Tap and touch are words that all lack the metaphor of movement, while retaining action+expectation – New Alexandria Apr 11 '13 at 18:34
  • @nothingisnecessary though you're generally on target, please don't muddle the use of terms (affordance) any further by reinforcing ambiguity in this way. Affordance is for 'true' (functional) affordances, whereas perceived affordance is for those things which effect the intended responses and visual-conceptual identity. The matter will be very important as virtual mechanics and aesthetics further separate from physical constraints. Thanks, Another OldTimer – New Alexandria Nov 3 '15 at 22:07

Can't you simply make a condition depending on environment of usage? If environment is web then word is click, if environment is mobile then word is tap or touch.

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  • I might be able to; but if there's a word that conveys both meanings, I would rather use that. – ashes999 Oct 21 '11 at 15:31

It doesn't fit in every case, but where possible I prefer "select". This works especially well when describing navigational actions, for example:

Login to the AWS EC2 Management Console and in the images section of the left-side navigation, select AMIs.

Unfortunately, one can't really "select" a button; where select doesn't work, I agree with SimplGy and generally use "press".

I agree that technical solutions may be superior, but in my case I'm writing technical documentation published separately to the software interfaces in question, so there's no opportunity to switch terms based on context.

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