Organization of the Win32 Programmer's Reference

The Microsoft Win32 Programmer's Reference fully describes the elements of the Win32 API set, including functions and related data types, macros, structures, and messages. The Win32 Programmer's Reference is the primary source for specific information about writing Win32-based applications.

As you can see from the Contents pane, the Win32 Programmer's Reference is organized as follows:

  • Overviews

  • Reference

  • Appendix

  • Glossary


The overviews describe the purpose of the elements of the Win32 API, and explain the concepts and principles behind the functions. These overviews are intended for programmers who are new to Win32 programming or who are learning parts of it for the first time. The overviews provide the basic information needed for an understanding of 32-bit Windows programming.

An overview generally consists of three parts: a brief description (About), a task-oriented section that provides examples and describes how to use the element (Using), and a reference section that lists related programming elements. For example, the Clipboard overview consists of the following sections:

  • About the Clipboard

  • Using the Clipboard

  • Clipboard Reference


The reference portion of this guide consists of an alphabetic listing of the Win32 programming elements, grouped by components such as functions, messages, or structures. The reference pages provide the details of the syntax, parameters, and return values for each programming element.

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