By convention, what is the best practice for the text that goes into the "caption" field of a text box?

The "caption" field is the text that shows up in the title bar:

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I have experimented with various things such as the application name, "Error", "Invalid Operation" and the like, but have never come up with anything that is wholly satisfying that I could use consistently.

Is there a "best practice" for this?


I'd say follow the User Experience Guidelines for your platform. In this case: Windows, see http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/windows/desktop/aa511267.aspx, under the section named "Title".


Use the title to identify the command or feature from which the error originated. Exceptions:

  • If an error is displayed by many different commands, consider using the program name instead.
  • If that title would be redundant or confusing with the main instruction, use the program name instead.

Don't use the title to explain or summarize the problem—that's the purpose of the main instruction.

  • 4
    Very good answer.
    – JohnGB
    Nov 9 '11 at 11:29
  • Your answer assumes that a message box is displayed because of an error. What would you show in the title for questions and the like?
    – Uwe Keim
    Jun 24 '13 at 5:43
  • 1
    @UweKeim I agree with Bart Gijssens that we need to follow MSDN recommendation. I also feel its always safe to use the product name as the title of the message box. The content of the message box can then explain the message or question in detail. Oct 21 '14 at 11:37

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