This GUI design pattern goes right back to the Apple Lisa in the early 80s:

enter image description here

Is there any research covering:

  1. Whether people actually notice the three dots (...) at the end of a menu item or button?

  2. Whether people understand what they are supposed to signify?

  • A question has been asked which covers some of this: ux.stackexchange.com/questions/9544/…
    – JonW
    Commented Aug 15, 2011 at 7:54
  • 2
    The previous answers seem to cover: 'why are they there ? ' - and the answer seems to be 'its in the interface design guidelines'. Here I'm focussing on whether users actually see and understand them.
    – PhillipW
    Commented Aug 15, 2011 at 8:40
  • Think you mean "ellipsis" - the three dots...?
    – sfinnie
    Commented Aug 15, 2011 at 9:15
  • 4
    It's ellipses, because it's plural.
    – Rahul
    Commented Aug 15, 2011 at 9:19
  • 1
    Comparing the content of the accepted answer from the linked question with the example screenshot here, it seems that they had a different purpose here, or different usage guidelines. I am not a Mac guy at all, but the two items that each use an ellipsis probably don't require further information to be performed (especially, the menu item "Attributes of <paper> ..." item). I think if anything, you are probably better to omit them, instead of implying something that may not be well understood.
    – JustinC
    Commented Aug 15, 2011 at 16:30

1 Answer 1


Personally I notice and use it.

If a command does not have the elipsis, I think twice before I click it to be sure I know what it does (because no elipsis indicates that some actual action is performed if I click on it).

If the elipsis is there, I can click on it if I don't know exactly what it does to at least find out more in the next step.

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