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Preface > Conventions Used in This Book

P.3. Conventions Used in This Book

The following typographical conventions are used in this book:

Constant width

is used to indicate anything typed, as well as command-line computer output and code examples.

Constant-width bold

is used to indicate user input in code.

Constant-width italic

is used to indicate variables in examples and so-called “replaceable” text. For instance, to open a document in Notepad from the command line, you’d type notepad filename, where filename is the full path and name of the document you wish to open.

[Square Brackets]

are used to show around an option (usually a command-line parameter) that the parameter is optional. Include or omit the option, as needed. Parameters not shown in square brackets are typically mandatory. See “Path Notation”, which follows, for another use of square brackets in this book.


is used to introduce new terms and to indicate URLs, variables in text, user-defined files and directories, commands, file extensions, filenames, directory or folder names, and UNC pathnames.

The following symbols are used in this book:

This symbol indicates a tip.

This symbol indicates a warning.

P.3.1. Path Notation

Rather than using procedural steps to tell you how to reach a given Windows XP user interface element or application, we use a shorthand path notation.

For example, we don’t say, “Click on the Start menu, then click on Search, then For Files or Folders, and then type a filename in the Named: field.” We simply say: Start Find Files or Folders Named. We generally don’t distinguish between menus, dialog boxes, buttons, checkboxes, etc., unless it’s not clear from the context. Just look for a GUI element whose label matches an element in the path.

The path notation is relative to the Desktop or some other well-known location. For example, the following path:

Start Programs Accessories Calculator

means “Open the Start menu (on the Desktop), then choose Programs, then choose Accessories, and then click Calculator.” But rather than saying:

Start Settings Control Panel Add or Remove Programs

we just say:

Control Panel Add or Remove Programs

since Control Panel is a “well-known location” and the path can therefore be made less cumbersome. As stated earlier in this preface, the elements of the Control Panel may or may not be divided into categories, depending on context and a setting on your computer. Thus, rather than a cumbersome explanation of this unfortunate design every time the Control Panel comes up, the following notation is used:

Control Panel [Performance and Maintenance] Scheduled Tasks

where the category, “Performance and Maintenance,” in this case, is shown in square brackets, implying that you may or may not encounter this step.

Paths will typically consist of clickable user interface elements, but they sometimes include text typed in from the keyboard (shown in constant-width text):

Start Run telnet


Ctrl-Alt-Del Shut Down

There is often more than one way to reach a given location in the user interface. We often list multiple paths to reach the same location, even though some are longer than others, because it can be helpful to see how multiple paths lead to the same destination.

The following well-known locations are used as starting points for user interface paths:

Control Panel

Start Control Panel (if you’re using the new Windows XP Start menu)

Start Settings Control Panel (if you’re using the classic Start menu)


The two-pane folder view, commonly referred to as “Explorer”: Start Programs Accessories System Tools Windows Explorer

My Computer

The My Computer icon on the Desktop (which may or may not be visible)

My Network Places

The My Network Places icon on the Desktop (which may or may not be visible)

Recycle Bin

The Recycle Bin icon on the Desktop


The Start button on the Taskbar

xxxx menu

Menu xxxx in the application currently being discussed (e.g., File or Edit)

P.3.2. Command-Line Syntax

Further conventions used for representing command-line options and arguments are described in the introduction to Chapter 7.

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