material design

While reading about lists in material design, I could not understand what Primary and Secondary actions refer to for checkboxes. I could not find any information about it. What is the difference between them, especially for check boxes? Please suggest a few examples.

Image 1 is about secondary actions and 2 is about primary actions.

  • 1
    Could you give us the link to the page where these images are from and where it is said that these are primary/secondary actions. Nov 10, 2018 at 13:21
  • 1
    WIthout a source, I can ONLY SPECULATE: Place the checkbox in front of the item if selection of items (=checking the checkbox) is the main (=primary) action. Place the checkbox after the item if the list of items is mainly for something else, and the checkbox supports a secondary function. Nov 10, 2018 at 18:15

1 Answer 1


The text of that section is short but pretty straight-forward:

  1. Secondary action
    This checkbox is the list item’s secondary action.
  2. Primary action
    This checkbox is both the list item’s primary action and state indicator.

In the case of a secondary section, the checkbox is a simple selection while the list item can present other information as well (e.g. the images in your example). In a primary case, the main purpose of the list item is to be selected.

Basically it's about wether to place the selection element in a dominant or a less obtrusive position.

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