Glossary of IT Terms


A computer program such as Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, Apple Safari (and others) that allows you to see pages on the World Wide Web.


A part of the RAM (memory) which acts as a ‘holding’ station into which you can place selected data to transfer it to another location. The selected data is placed there with the ‘Copy’ or ‘Cut’ commands and stays on the clip-board until either the clip board it filled or computer is shut down.
A new set of data placed on the clip-board will fill the top slot, but data placed earlier can be accessed until it “falls off the end” when the clipboard is full.


Standard program settings to which the Computer reverts automatically, unless changed. e.g. the language the computer uses can be set as a ‘default’ and the computer will use that language’s spelling until the default is changed.

Dialog box

A box that appears after making a command by clicking on menu items or tool buttons. A dialog box has places for you to enter information which enables the computer to carry out the command to your specification. These devices give you wonderful control over different aspects of your computer work.

Drop-down menu

A list of commands that drops onto the screen on selection of a choice on a Ribbon, a Menu bar or attached to some Tool Buttons.


An assembly of information/data stored as a single block; e.g., a letter written and saved in “My Documents” becomes a file, with a given name and location. For the average computer user, a file is the smallest unit of computer data that can be accessed and edited. Files are stored in Folders.


The shape the mouse pointer assumes when placed over text; the pointer arrow changes into an I-beam. Clicking the left mouse button will establish an “Insertion Point” (also called a “Cursor”) in the text. At that point you can begin typing. (See “Insertion Point”)


A small picture that designates graphically some function in a computer program. For example, the icon for the command “Cut” is a pair of scissors.

Mouse pointer

The arrow (or other icon)on the screen that shows the movement of the mouse. It is used to select and execute commands, to highlight text and images, to designate places in a document for inserting text, images or other elements.

Insertion point or cursor

A blinking line that tells you where text will be inserted if you were to start typing. When the Mouse arrow is positioned over text, the arrow changes into an I-beam. The Insertion Point can be moved by changing the position of the Mouse I-beam and clicking.  First position the I-beam where you want to start typing and then click, the insertion point position will become fixed and text will insert to the left. The IP always stays to the right of the text being typed.

Title bar

The bar at the top of a window that displays the Program name and File name in most programs. It also contains the system icons for Minimise, Restore Down/Maximise and Close, and indicates whether the window is active.


Toolbars carry collections of icons each attached to one or more commands, thus forming a tool button. Toolbars can be fixed or floating.
The Status Toolbar at the bottom of the screen & the Title bar at the top provide information on the work in hand.

The Ribbon

The horizontal strip across the top of an application’s window under the Title bar which contains a two dimensional display of tool buttons for features and actions that are available for that application.
There are several Ribbons with their own tabs; for MS Office 2007 (and later) programs, the tabs are
Home, Insert, Page layout, References, Mailings, Review, and others.

The Menu bar

The horizontal strip across the top of an application’s window under the Title bar. Each word on the strip has a context sensitive drop-down menu containing features and actions that are available for that application. The usual list for most programs until 2007 is
File, Edit, View, Insert, Format, Tools, Window, Help

Select or Highlight

To mark or highlight an item so that a subsequent action can be carried out on that item. Selection is usually achieved by clicking the item with a mouse, swiping with a mouse or with techniques on the keyboard. After selecting an item, you choose the action that you want to affect the item. Before a computer can carry out any action, it must know what it is to carry out that action on. Selection is a vital part of computing.


A standard format of a frequently used document to save time in preparation. Templates can be provided by the program or set up by the user.