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Typical Edit Menu

The Edit menu contains items with which users can modify an application's objects. Some of the menu's items, such as the Find item, work on the current window. Others, such as the Delete item, work on currently selected objects. Figure 29 shows an example of an Edit menu.

Figure 29 Example Edit Menu

Updating Labels of Menu Items

In the Edit menu, you can continuously update the labels of some items to reflect your application's state or the object type on which the menu item operates. For example, you could continuously update an Undo CommandName item—where CommandName changes to the name of the most recent command, such as Undo Paste. Continuous updating is useful for labeling Delete menu items, where the label can reflect the type of object that will be deleted—for example, Delete Group or Delete Alias.

Paste Special Item

The Edit menu can include a Paste Special item that enables users to control the format of pasted data. Optionally, this menu item can display a submenu or dialog box from which users can choose one of the formats in which data can be pasted. For example, text might be pasted as formatted text or as unformatted text.

Properties Item

Many applications include a Properties item in the Edit menu. The Properties item always works on the current selection. If no objects are selected, the Properties item should be unavailable and dimmed. Putting a Properties item in the Edit menu is appropriate if the application has no Object menu or when the application has more than one Object menu. (For more information about Object menus, see "Additional Menus" on page 45.)

A Properties item in the Edit menu differs from a File Properties item in the File menu. A File Properties item sets properties of a window's top-level object (for example, a word-processing document open in that window). In contrast, a Properties item in the Edit menu sets the properties of an object that can be selected in a window (for example, a table in an open word-processing document).


  • If your application has an Edit menu, place it second on the menu bar, directly to the right of the File menu.

  • Continuously update the labels of items in the Edit menu so that the labels indicate the object type on which the items act.

  • If you include an Undo item in the Edit menu, also include a Redo item in that menu. Never use an Undo item to enable users to redo a command.

  • If users can paste data from the clipboard in different formats, include a Paste Special item in the Edit menu. The Paste Special item should perform an operation, display a submenu, or display a dialog box listing paste options. If the item performs an operation, label the item Paste Format instead of Paste Special. Replace Format with a word that suggests the format in which data will be pasted—for example, Paste Unformatted or Paste Formula.

  • If the Edit menu includes a Properties item, place that item last in the menu and precede it with a separator.

  • When adding application-specific items to the Edit menu, place them after the group of more typical items to which they relate most closely. (For example, if your application has a Paste Special item, place it after the Paste item, as in Figure 29.) Alternatively, place the application-specific items at the end of the Edit menu, but before the Properties item (if there is one).

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