Login/Logout? Logon/Logoff?
June 27, 2005 7:06 AM   Subscribe

What's the preferred terminology for entering and leaving the part of a website where you have to enter a username and password? Is it log in/log out or log on/log off? One word (login) or two (log in)?
posted by Joleta to Computers & Internet (9 answers total)
The terms I prefer to use are "authenticate" and "end session," but I am not a copywriter.
posted by majick at 7:17 AM on June 27, 2005

Log in/out/off/on are all more or less interchangable. On/off has a stronger connotation of a network connection, like dialing into an ISP with a modem, whereas in/out is more of site specific type thing, like accessing a bank or message board, but I wouldn't be phased by hearing those switched around.

I'd use two words if referring to the process. 'Login' is sort of a unix-y way of describing the credentials used when accessing a system. As such, a login may be a user name, or a username/password pair.
posted by mmcg at 7:18 AM on June 27, 2005

The latest edition of Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary (the standard copy-editing reference) has log on as the main entry and log in defined as "log on," so if you want a choice nobody can argue with, the former is it. But both are OK.

The verb is always two words; "to logon" makes the user look illiterate. (Note: as a cast-iron descriptivist, I don't think there's anything wrong with misspellings, I'm just describing the automatic reaction of most people who know the correct form.) As for the noun, M-W has log-on and log-in (hyphenated), but they'll probably evolve to one word (logon, login) before the next edition comes out; again, if you want to be unimpeachably "correct," use the hyphen.
posted by languagehat at 7:25 AM on June 27, 2005

Both Google and Yahoo use "Sign in" and "Sign out" which I think is friendlier and less technical somehow. And there's no question that it's not signin and signout.
posted by grouse at 7:32 AM on June 27, 2005

Heh. Unless you work for my company, in which "signup" becomes one word when IT is in charge.

Seconding languagehat. No matter what the tech people tell you, the verb or command is two words: Log in; Sign in; Log on. If you then want to talk about the Login page, or the login name, you can smoosh it into one word (or hyphenate).

Note that if you are talking about those things, you pretty much always use "login"; I haven't heard anyone talk about a "signin name." That would be one reason to use "log in" as the command, since it keeps all your terminology simple.
posted by occhiblu at 8:48 AM on June 27, 2005

This came up because I noticed that our company web site asks users to "Log In" but then "Log Off," a mixed metaphor that cries out for change. I'm running "Sign in/Sign out" past the powers-that-be this morning.
posted by Joleta at 9:16 AM on June 27, 2005

FYI, Unix uses login / logout. Windows uses log on / log off.

I think sites have started using "sign in" for authentication because many people erroneously believe the act of typing "www.example.com" in their web browser's location field constitutes "logging on" to the site. Ugh.
posted by jmcmurry at 10:03 AM on June 27, 2005

I, too, like Sign In and Sign Out. No chance of mistaking the meaning of those!
posted by LadyBonita at 11:10 AM on June 27, 2005

Ouch, jmcmurry! I'm probably guilty of writing stuff like "Log on to www.whatever.com to find out more..." I'll watch that in the future.
posted by Joleta at 2:36 PM on June 27, 2005

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