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In discussing balloon-ish UI elements, I've described the pointy part as 'points', 'arrows' or 'spikes', and that seems to get the idea across to many people alright... but I find myself falling back on hand gestures to clarify my err... point.

What's the best (or proper?) term/phrase to use to describe this anatomical part?


It appears the consensus is that they are generally referred to as tails.

What I find challenging now is that in contemporary UI's, these 'tails' tend to be much stubbier (and the balloons more rectangular) than their comic-book inspiration (more bunny-tail than cat-tail?). I feel like my days of hand gestures and blithering may not yet be over!

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The reason why they are more rigid in UIs is that this makes text layout and drawing easier. In your above screenshot, text can be left-aligned and wrapped inside a rectangle. With traditional ellipsoid balloons, you need to center the text, wrap to an ellipsis and draw using bezier paths. Your shape above only needs circle segments and straight lines. – uliwitness Nov 7 '13 at 13:35
up vote 10 down vote accepted

I believe the balloon is technically referred to as a "callout." Most websites I've seen call the pointy part a "tail."

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Yeah, Wikipedia calls them tails too:

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Ooh, great history. (Kind of embarrassed I hadn't been there yet!) – peteorpeter Apr 19 '11 at 13:31

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