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I have a web page with a checkbox on it. The checkbox controls whether the list shown on the page is refreshed automatically: if checked, the list is refreshed every second; if unchecked, the list does not refresh.

I was wondering how best to label this checkbox.

Refresh automatically

vs

Automatically refresh

Either form is valid English, but I'm wondering whether the first is more idiomatic for buttons/checkboxes as it has the verb first. A quick straw poll in the office also showed a slight preference for this form.

I also toyed with

Refresh every second

but the problem with that is that the refresh period may change.

So, my question: should checkboxes generally be labelled verb-adverb or adverb-verb?

  • This is probably a tech writing question, rather than a User Experience question. The grammar rules for writing are quite complex dictionary.cambridge.org/grammar/british-grammar/… – SteveD Aug 3 '18 at 13:20
  • My recommendation is that when allowing a user to alter a state or functionality off an application in a binary way you might be better off using a switch/toggle UI pattern. I dedicate checkboxes to form inputs but this is up to you and your design system. As per wording, I recommend using, "Keep List Updated". However my questions to you: Would your users want automatic reloads? Why would a user want a one time refresh button? Would your users not want automatic refresh option? Would your users not want a single time refresh button? – Bromox Aug 3 '18 at 15:39
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I would lean toward "refresh automatically" as the most informative word for scanning is "refresh," unless the context includes several options about refreshing such as "refresh all." In the case of a cluster or chunk of options about refreshing, I would more likely front load the "automatically." I would also use "automatically refresh" if that is already a pattern throughout the interface, of course.

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