This is regarding a form on a website, but could relate to virtually anything that has a number of steps.

In my situation, when I start the process, I will have a series of 10 records. They are shown in a webform, one after the other. So the first appears on the screen, you edit, then click save and the next one is shown. and so on.

There is a counter, to show how many records are remaining. Should it:

a) Start at 10 on the first, counting down each time a record is saved, ending at 1 on the last.


b) Start at 9 on the first, counting down, ending at 0 for the last.

If the counter currently says "5":

(a) would indicate that there are 5 remaining. (b) would indicate that after the one you are on there are 5 more.

Does either make more sense? Will anyone realise that's what it means, whichever I go for? Am I overthinking it and as long as the number gets lover - you know you're nearly done?

  • I think you probably need to test this with your particular users. We can make guesses and assumptions here but this really sounds like it might be a problem specific to your users. Dec 18 '17 at 8:24
  • Oddly while looking into the best solution, I was surprised not to fine more people with this same question. Unless it's just a difficult one to sum up for a web search. Dec 20 '17 at 17:15

In general, users more comfortable with 1-based counting. I don't have a source for that (only found blog posts and articles that didn't cite anything themselves). Why not just be overly clear? like:

On step 5 out of 10


5 out of 10 records completed

In this one, you might actually show all numbers from 0 to 10 - i.e. when you just begin you have completed 0 out of 10 records, and when you're completely finished you have completed 10 out of 10.

In other words, what is most clear to a user is how you might say it if you were talking to them.

  • Thanks for this. I think this would make it as clear as possible. Dec 20 '17 at 17:10

I don't think you are asking for 0 or 1-based counters, but rather whether the "items remaining" counter should include the current one or not.

Look at it this way: As long as the user can still cancel the work on the current item, it is a "remaining one" and should be included in the count. In case you don't do it that way, you would have to re-increment the remaining counter in case the user cancels work on the current item - Which is not what I would expect.

  • I totally see what you mean, but @J.Dimeo's answer, putting it the opposite way around seems to make it the most clear for users at a glance. Dec 20 '17 at 17:13

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