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I'm currently participating on the design of a software application (not to be run on a browser) and after talking with the team that is handling the documentation about the software, a question arised.

To give context, the application has the following structure: enter image description here

The Header section will have icons so the user can navigate through all the sections of the application The Footer will have buttons with actions related with the section the user is currently seeing.

Now the question is: what to call to the middle section, with the "?"

The selection of term Header and Footer was based on the anatomy of a slide of a PowerPoint presentation but also to other examples like the areas of a letterhead. But the middle section is a mystery right now.

We thought of calling it "body" as a reference to websites but when mentioning it on the documentation, the common user might be confused of having a "body" on the application. We also thought of calling it "window" but according its definition here it doesn't overlap with the area of other windows and the user cannot move it around has a behavior he is used when interacting with windows on a desktop.

Does anyone have any suggestion or know any example that can help solve the name of the "?" section, or, if in your opinion, it is ok to use any of the terms I mentioned and why.

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    Another option could be Content. – Alvaro Feb 28 '17 at 10:20
  • But isn't "content" everything that is related with the application himself as a whole, like: "The content of this application are three sections X, Y and Z" or if we use the examples of books, content are all the sections of that same book. – Joao Carvalho Feb 28 '17 at 10:24
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    You are right, but I think this depends very much on the specific context of the app. Depending on the kind of app, I have seen the words: canvas, viewport, content... I would try to check what other software applications are using. But this is just a comment, in case it can help. – Alvaro Feb 28 '17 at 10:30
  • I don't think body would be that weird. as @Alvaro said 'content' also makes sense. in microsoft word you say commonly like page header, page footer and page content. – prazor9 Feb 28 '17 at 10:39
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    @JoaoCarvalho yes empty space between header and footer can be called as content area or content canvas. from here – prazor9 Feb 28 '17 at 11:11
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If that section was the sister in Arctic Monkeys' Cornerstone, it would tell you: "You can call me anything you want". Since it isn't, you may just as well call it...

The main area

Main (Oxford online):

Chief in size or importance.

If you look at various layout diagrams, or the standard HTML5 page layout tags, you'll often see that area titled main.

A layout diagram showing a main area section

"But HTML is web, I'm not talking about the web!" I hear you say. To which I reply: "It's HTML5". Allow me to explain:

Mind your terms

There's a mess, there's chaos, and there's terminology.

I suspect that part of your difficulty finding the right term is not using the right terms to begin with. You have primed yourself bad. Let's delve into this.

Print

Two pages in a book

A page in a book may have a header and a footer. It is perfectly common to call the area between these two the page content, or the content area.

Note that we are in 1841. Nobody heard of a computer, the web, or deodorant. Pages, headers and footers, were, nearly exclusively, all text. If fact, European readers will have to wait another year to see illustrations in their newspapers.

The early web

The world-wide-web was devised as a content sharing platform. And by content we mean text.

So it seems rather fitting to call these things on the web with text content webpages, and equally fitting for them to have headers and footers.

So far it's all text, text, text.

The late, well alive web

Since necessity is the mother of invention, interaction soon started to appear on the web, and has spread like bacteria since.

Suddenly, it's not all text, and in some cases, very little of it. Suddenly, we have terms like a webapp, to distinguish its interactive nature from a website (the old contenty one). Suddenly, coal is the best thing ever.

With text demoted, the whole page-header-footer parallel becomes rather flaky.

If what you have is a desktop app, and it isn't content-centred, you probably want to talk in terms of top-toolbar, bottom-toolbar, and main area.

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