Microsoft Manual of Style for Technical Publications
The Fourth Edition, ISBN 0-7356-4871-9, was published on January 27, 2012.
The Third Edition, ISBN 0-7356-1746-5, was published on November 12, 2003. The print version of this edition was published in June 2004. Microsoft employees and partners can also access a Microsoft Compressed HTML Help (CHM) version of the MSTP. While the Third Edition was in preparation, the CHM version was available for free public download from Microsoft: this is no longer the case.
Fourth Edition: Published in January 2012 (ISBN 0-7356-4871-9)
Third Edition: Published in June 2004 (ISBN 0-7356-1746-5)
Second Edition: Published in June 1998 (ISBN 1-57231-890-2)
First Edition: Published in 1995 (ISBN 1-55615-939-0)
Like any style guide, the MSTP establishes standards and serves as a reference for writers. The MSTP has the specific purpose of guiding technical writers, editors, and content managers working with Microsoft products. While the manual in some parts focuses on usage particular to these products, the guide also serves as a general tool for the technical writers. Content ranges from specific instructions for naming particular elements of specific programs to general rules of grammar.
(Based upon Version 4.5 of the Help version)
The MSTP is divided into the following 13 sections:
Introduction: Provides acknowledgements and a brief guide to using the manual
Documenting the User Interface: Provides standardized names for elements of the Microsoft user interface. For example, it differentiates between a combo-box and a list-box and delineates how to refer to file names.
Content Formatting and Layout: Deals with several formatting and layout issues, including pictures with captions and tables.
Global Content: Provides instructions for ensuring that documents will be understood throughout the world by avoiding local references and making texts easy to translate.
Content for Software Developers: Gives conventions for code formatting and other issues that affect developers.
Web Content: Defines parameters for titles and descriptions of web pages, as well as ways of referring to tags, elements, and attributes in other documents.
Legal Content and Front Matter: Provides information about copyrights, trademarks, and other legal issues.
Indexing and Attributing: Contains guidelines for indexes and keywords.
Tone and Rhetoric: Urges the writer to avoid problems with tone. Specifically, it calls on technical writers to have a formal tone that is nevertheless interesting. It suggests writing should contain the following values: empathy, responsibility, passion, and inspiration.
Common Style Problems: Points out common problems ranging from capitalization to style used when describing a procedure.
Grammatical Elements: Contains sections on the general usage of verbs and nouns.
Punctuation: Contains not only information about using punctuation in general, but also some elements specific to the technical writing industry, such as formatting concerns.
Usage Dictionary: An alphabetized list of terms commonly used in technical writing. It also contains a list of acronyms and abbreviations.