From IndieWeb

microcopy is small bits of text, a word, phrase, maybe a sentence, typically in a UI, designed to very quickly and simply communicate something about the UI without going into a lengthy glaze-over explanation or use obtuse terminology. Due to its brevity, microcopy is often harder to write, and is considered a specific writing skill.

Good Examples


When misbehaving apps die, MacOS provides a succinct, and reasonably understandable (and actionable) error message alert:

DVD Player quit unexpected.

United Wifi

United Airlines has onboard wifi which sometimes encounters errors, in this case, the error message displayed provided a good general summary, followed with an apologetic description, and possible mitigations.


Bad Examples

MacOS DVD Player

For what should be an amazingly simple task (playing DVDs), the Apple MacOS DVD Player app has some very bad microcopy in its error messages. e.g.

DVD Player encountered a system error
Error: -69889

  • Why is it claiming a passive victim role? "DVD Player encountered"
  • Why is it blaming the mythical "system"? "system error"
  • Why is it providing a completely meaningless error number? -69889

See Also