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We are having a small debate between QA and programmers on the best consistency for labels.

On a form with about 40 data entry controls we have around 6 date fields. A small example of these fields is:

  1. Invoice Date - the date on the physical invoice
  2. Invoice Received - the date the invoice was received
  3. Invoice Approved - the date the invoice was paid .. and so on

The opinion of QA is that either all or none of these fields should be suffixed with the word "Date".

The opinion of programmers is that the most clear and consise version of a label should be used. "Invoice Date" is clearer than "Invoice", whereas "Invoice Received" is equally clear to "Invoice Received Date". Take note that the user interface is already extremely tight on space, such that every pixel matters. I believe this reveals my opinion and point of view on the subject.

I looked at the Microsoft UI guidelines to identify if they outline a preferred usage, and I found nothing. What does everyone here think?

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  • Uhhh... "Invoice sent"? That's what the invoice date is for, right? – PixelSnader Jun 22 '16 at 14:27
  • @PixelSnader It is actually closer in meaning to "Invoice Effective Date". I think I may suggest updating it to clarify. – user112799 Jun 22 '16 at 15:37
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The task of a label is to unambiguously identify the meaning of the value associated. The task of a label is not to be consistently worded with all other labels on the screens (and this probably reveals my preference :-).

But apart from anyone's preferences (be it UXD, QA, or DEV), the ultimate benchmark is the user. Ask 10 potential users of the software to describe what they understand to be the meaning of "Invoice Received", and if all 10 say it's a date, there's no gain in adding "Date".

Actually, adding unneccessary clutter with the intent to clarify may result in a degradation of the UI, since the user has more words to read.

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  • For me it falls under eliminating redundancies, and avoiding overcommunicating. Thanks for your input. – user112799 Jun 22 '16 at 15:34
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It's common for developers to use past tense for implying dates (created, printed, deleted, etc.) because it's semantically correct and short. But there's no need to shorten the form labels as long as the form layout allows it. That's why I would recommend to prepend the "date" suffix.

But in the end, this question might not be relevant anymore if you decide to use a DatePicker control. There would be no more debate between devs and QA !

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  • Each of these labels has a datepicker control attached, so there really shouldn't be any confusion. Thanks for your point of view – user112799 Jun 22 '16 at 15:33

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