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I'm working on translating English language content of a website into German, and I was curious which form do you use in German commands for labels in software.

Think of messages like "Click Here" or "Add More Info"

Do you use the formal (Sie) commands for these?

"Klicken Sie hier", "Ergänzen Sie mehr Informationen"

Or do you take an informal approach?

"Klick hier", "Ergänz mehr Informationen"
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    You would use neither, but rather infinitive or passive style. If no-one beats me, I'll write up an answer tomorrow™ – Jan Jun 18 '15 at 20:36
  • I Googled around for which form to use, but couldn't find anything specific to software messages. Ich kann noch ein bisschen Deutsch, but I'm a little rusty. – RJ Cuthbertson Jun 18 '15 at 20:39
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    So unless the program is specifically targeted at very young people (14 or less) I would stay away from the informal imperative, because if not offended people might definitely feel treated like children. Also: it should be "Klicke hier" and especially "Ergänze mehr..." I can't give you a rule, though. – Emanuel Jun 18 '15 at 21:29
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    @clinch... don't know. My fb has always been in English. – Emanuel Jun 19 '15 at 8:32
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    @Emanuel actually today’s orthography allows omitting the e in both klick and ergänz imperatives — it is clear what is meant, no apostrophe required. – Jan Jun 19 '15 at 15:02
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Most commonly used is an object/destination and infinitive structure and it sounds good. You could use either an object/destination or infinitive if it is still clear what the button does.

Examples

  • "(Liste) Löschen" <> "Delete (List)"
  • "Neue Liste (Hinzufügen)" <> "(Add) New List"
  • "Im Browser (Öffnen)" <> "(Open) In Browser
  • "Browser Öffnen" <> "Open Browser
  • "(Datei) Speichern" <> "Save (File)"
  • "(Datei) Speichern Unter" <> "Save (File) As"

Whether you should capitalize the whole label text or not, I do not know. I just try to be consistent in my programs.


Think of messages like "Click Here" or "Add More Info"


"Click Here"

simply shift it to

"Hier Klicken"


"Add More Info"

is a little different

"Details Hinzufügen" literally "Add Details"

"Infos hinzufügen" would be informal and "Informationen hinzufügen" seems to be long as a button label text at least in my experience.


"(Bitte) Klicken Sie hier" "(Bitte) Ergänzen Sie mehr Informationen"

These translations do not fit the purpose of button labels. This would - more politely written with "Bitte" - appear in a message box or pop up text, if the user has to click somewhere specific (when you, the programmer, want him to do so) or in the other case, he has to add more information, e.g. the data requires it. I understood your request "Add More Info" as "If you want to add more info click here!"

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    "Ergänzen Sie mehr Informationen" doesn't work, though. It should be "Ergänzen Sie (das Akkusativobjekt) mit weiteren Informationen" or "Ergänzen Sie die Informationen". Also, different from English standards, verbs are not capitalised in German screen interfaces, unless they are the first word. – TehMacDawg Jun 19 '15 at 4:25
  • Thank you for the thorough explanation. Seems simple enough. – RJ Cuthbertson Jun 19 '15 at 13:42
  • @RJCuthbertson It was a pleasure. – Daniel Jun 19 '15 at 13:53

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