In the application i am looking at, you can create objects of different types by a corresponding context menu. Which entry (or which of these keywords) will be used is depending on the context of the action. There is always a maximum of one keyword possible at a time, so the user will never be in a situation whether he should use "new" or "insert" as there will be only the corresponding action displayed. Currently possible actions any user can perform are:


  • New foo
  • Add bar
  • Insert foobar

What they do:

  • "New" creates an object new from scratch, like a new text file.
  • "Add" creates an object from a template that can be configured after; it can often be used without further actions right after the add.
  • "Insert" creates an object that is quite primitive, such as a clean canvas, that can be configured after. The object created usually behaves like a dummy or a template right after creation, it has no use unless it gets "filled with life" by the user.

Is it problematic to give similar actions like these different names like I do? Does any of the naming conflict with general conventions?

I checked the "new vs create" and "add vs new" Questions here on ux.stackexchange.com, as far as I can see, it does not.

  • Those single terms don't seem to carry enough meaning all by themselves. You would probably want to expand them a little. For example, I don't really understand even from your description what the key difference is between things created by "new" and "insert".
    – MMacD
    Commented Nov 4, 2016 at 19:54
  • @MMacD i will try to edit the post to elaborate it a bit more, but the difference is not large at all - so you might be right. Commented Nov 4, 2016 at 20:40
  • What's the motivation behind offering all three choices? What circumstances would cause the person to prefer each choice over either of the others? My suspicion at the moment is that you might want to use the same verb for all three, but qualified. E.g. New (empty) ; New (framework only) ; New (basic functionality). But that still leaves me wondering why anyone would ever choose anything but the one that has some functionality already in place.
    – MMacD
    Commented Nov 13, 2016 at 22:12
  • @MMacD the operations are not visibile next to each other, the operations will be performed at different "locations" in the program. I am trying to enforce consistence for which keyword to use. Commented Nov 14, 2016 at 12:09
  • Okay, that clears things up a bit. I'll put the rest of my response in as an answer.
    – MMacD
    Commented Nov 15, 2016 at 11:48

2 Answers 2


The three actions seem quite similar. All of them create an object.

  • New: creates an object
  • Add: creates an object, from a choosen template
  • Insert: creates an object, that can be configured after (without a context I cant understand this one).

My point is why not use the same action which could be Create:

  • Create object empty
  • Create object from template
  • Create object dummy(?)

In the same way programs usually present the New file dialog. A first action (Create new) which leads to a secondary view where the user chooses what and how to create.


There is no fixed preference for one term over another. Which you choose should depend entirely on the immediate context:

  • "New" is a context-independent term, usable anywhere

  • "Add" implies that other, similar things already exist

  • "Insert" implies that, not only do other things already exist, but that their ordering is important.

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