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I'm writing documentation for a behavior of a device which has a button. When the user presses the button, the machine transitions from the state A into state B.

After the user releases the pressure on the button, that is to say, the button is no longer in the state of being pressed, the device will transition from state B into state C.

Since English uses "depress" to describe both the action of pressing the button, and the opposite action, I'm not sure how can I clearly and succinctly describe the action of releasing the pressure on the button.

Note: If possible, I'd prefer to use a single word, instead of a longer phrase.

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  • 3
    What's wrong with release?
    – user3395
    May 22 '18 at 11:33
  • @userr2684291 Feels a bit too generic. Due to complicated reasons, it's preferable if each section of the document is stand-alone. Therefore, I'd like to use a word which implies that the button has been pressed and then released. However, I'm open to using release, if there's no better option, or if you (or someone else) convinces me that it's intuitively understandable what happened and that there's little room for confusion.
    – AndrejaKo
    May 22 '18 at 11:36
  • That is one crazy button. By depressing it and releasing it TWO things happen? May 22 '18 at 12:30
  • @Tᴚoɯɐuo No, it's not. Take a look at any of the buttons on touchscreens (or even regular mouse-clicked buttons). They all provide feedback to what happened. :)
    – AndrejaKo
    May 22 '18 at 12:44
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    OK. State "C" in your example doesn't really initiate a second action; it is merely a way for the programmer to know when to return the button to its unpressed visual state, if the button had been shaded to simulate its being depressed. Press and Release are standard ways of describing that finger or pointer interaction with the button. May 22 '18 at 12:59
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Down and Up are common technical naming conventions for this.


A common naming convention in technical writing, for describing the two states a button can be in (pressed down and released) are down and up.

For Keyboard Presses, this is commonly:

KeyUp when the key is not being pressed, and KeyDown when it is pushed in.

For your case, it could be appropriate to use the terms

ButtonUp and ButtonDown

An example sentence may be:

On a ButtonUp event, the following actions occur...


That said, in technical writing - the important thing is that you declare the meaning of the terms you use, and then stick to those exact meanings throughout the paper.

It could be appropriate to use the terms press (4) and release (6) for example. So long as you make it clear before their first use - that these are the meanings you are using, it will be fine.

It's worth also noting that in technical writing, some terms may not always appear to "fit" perfectly - using words that fit a coding style, more than an english essay. This is perfectly normal, and the only condition on doing this is that you define all these terms clearly before using them.

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