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I have a software whose main purpose is commanding a Cut machine. I already have an Option on the menus named "Cut" which causes the machine to do its function of Cutting parts.

Now, I want to add another option that makes a Cut clipboard operation, in the same way we are used in Desktop applications.

Given the already existing option is in menu Machine Control > Cut and the new will be under the Edit menu, what should I do? Name it Cut, or anything else, what would it be?

UPDATE: Meanwhile, the application menus have been updated. The Machine Control > Cut command is now Cut > Start Cut. However, there are "Cut" buttons on some places that do what the Start Cut does.

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  • Can you clarify more of what cut/copy/paste looks like in this kind of software? would that refer to copying/pasting elements in the drawing/plan?
    – J. Dimeo
    Mar 9, 2017 at 3:31
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    You can add icons to clarify the difference. Other than that, changing the name of one of the two functions is your only option.
    – Martyn
    Mar 13, 2017 at 10:25

2 Answers 2

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I think that there are two options here:

  • renaming the main function and purpose of the machine to something else,
  • renaming the standard "cut" in edit menu that would operate on clipboard.

Now, I suppose that the first way is not possible as "cutting" is probably something that is natural for the User that the machine does.

Renaming the other one would, on the other hand, be against a popular convention. But I think it may be a lesser sin in this case. You could rename this option to for example:

  • move to clipboard,
  • cut (to clipboard),
  • copy and remove.

I know neither of these is perfect but sometimes using something imperfect is a direction to consider.

You should be aware of one thing, though. Remember that mistaking the clipboard meaning of "cut" for the physical meaning of it would trigger little to no consequences. In other words, if a User copies something to clipboard he will get confused but nothing bad will happen. It does not work like this the other way around — if they want to cut something to clipboard and trigger the machine operation then the consequences may be very frustrating.

Therefore, I would avoid using "cut" in general, replacing them with two options deriving from the same word:

  • for cutting to clipboard: one of the mentioned above, pointing directly the clipboard as a target of this action: "cut to clipboard",

  • for the main machine purpose I would use something that would convey the serious consequence of this action, for example "Perform cutting". I would support it with a confirmation popup that would explain User in simple words what is going to happen and ask User for confirmation with two buttons: Cancel and Perform cutting. You could add a checkbox [ ] never ask again in this popup, so that once Users learn which option does what, they will not need to confirm. However, this depends on if you are able to detect which Users are new and which are experienced using the machine.

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Rename the "Cut" operation of the device to "Slice" or something similarly effective but not confusingly part of cut/copy/paste lexicon.

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  • First, what it does is not slice. And even it was it, how would I translate that? For example, some languages have not a word for the slice verb; instead, they use "cut in slices"!
    – sergiol
    May 12, 2016 at 21:47
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    Can I suggest thesaurus.com? Jun 11, 2016 at 12:24

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