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I am currently building a web application with associates various questions and answers to a specific page in a book. Without going into too much detail, a question can be associated to multiple pages in multiple books; likewise with answers.

When viewing both questions and answers from one portion of a book, all of the questions and answers are listed which apply to that portion.

Example:

PAGE 34
Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Nam eget libero in mauris suscipit semper a ullamcorper purus. Integer rutrum tempor semper. Nam scelerisque, libero a adipiscing auctor, dolor tellus dignissim ante, ut lobortis sem erat vitae massa. Maecenas ligula augue, dignissim vitae adipiscing non, auctor consectetur dui.

(Question) tellus dignissim ante, ut lobortis?
(Answer 1) mcorper purus integer.
(Answer 2) mcorper purus integer.

(Question 2) tellus dignissim ante, ut lobortis?
(Answer 3) mcorper purus integer.
(Answer 4) mcorper purus integer.

So the question is:
I would like to indicate that each of the questions and answers, when clicked, navigate to a page which allows the user to see all of the places in the book where that question or answer applies.

What method can I use for showing "more of a similar" item?

It seems that a plus would hint at adding a new item, and a magnifying glass would hint at searching for something.

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3 Answers 3

Some ideas..

  1. Magnifying glass not such a bad idea in my eyes, especially if the magnifying glass appears over something like a book or square with "..." in it. Consider this link (Xref icon) - http://www.bricsys.com/bricscad/help/en_US/V9/UsrGui/source/00_What's_New/ART/04_SettingsXrefs.png If you think about it, this is actually searching for something.. you are searching for more similar items.

  2. An icon of a book, maybe even an open book. This will suggest that you see parts of a book which have something to do with this question/answer.

  3. Icon of a highlight / highlight marker. To show all the relevant places in a book one can mark them with a highlighting marker. Maybe show a page with some lines highlighted instead.

  4. Paper clip. Usually marks an attachment, but if you show a page with a paper clip on it, it could suggest an attached page from another book.

  5. Single word icon. Maybe with the word "more" on it. Doesn't look to cluttered. Examples: http://www.hanyang.ac.kr/user/hanyangeng/mycodyimages/main/btn_more.gif http://www.planetvideo.com.au/images/headings/more_dvd.gif

  6. Three dots. This is what Apple uses as an icon in iphone tab bar when you have more than 5 tabs (the fifth tab automatically becomes "more" with an icon of 3 dots).

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Steve, how are the usage patterns?
I see the word books and it conveys an idea of returning users that stay for rather long time spans.
If it's so, then I'd separate the first time user from the others.
For this first time user there should be a means to learn about the available options, and for the recurring user just a hint of the affordabilities of the minimalistic artifacts, like for example a slight background color difference and a tooltip to reassure the user.
The tooltip can say things like go and see 42 additional questions.

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I am going to recommend just using a simple text link like "Related answers" or "Related questions" instead of trying to find an universal icon.This clearly informs the user what he can expect when he clicks on the link.

The issue with using icons which are not universal in nature (there are universal icons for only some specific actions such as magnify,search,email,trash etc) is that most users might get confused about what the icon might stand for.

You could also go with an approach for using an icon if you do need it due to space constraints but ensure it has a tool tip which explains what it stands for.

Here is the only icon i could find which was used to highlight related items

enter image description here

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My main concern with using text is clutter. The site, over-all, is fairly minimalistic. Good call with the link image. –  Steve Konves Sep 26 '12 at 20:57
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