How To Use “Your” and “My” in User Interfaces

By Dragan Simonovic

Documents, photos, orders – how to list them? Is it better to use My Documents or Your Documents? Are My Orders more understandable than Your Orders?

The easiest answer would be: don’t use my/your at all – if it’s possible. Unless there are both my and your content (e.g. user’s and company’s documents), it’s better to use the class of content: Documents, Photos, Orders.

If there’s a need to differentiate between the user’s content and some other’s, the best practice we suggest is to follow MS Windows User Experience Interaction Guidelines:

  • Use the second person (you, your) to tell users what to do. This means you should use second person for error messages, help, window or page labels, on-page documentation, and similar.
  • Use the first person (I, me, my) to let users tell the program what to do. This means: use first person for buttons, menu items, and other controls where the user commands the app.