Just wondering if there is any logic defined to use a certain arrow position (left|right or front|back or before|after or whatever ...) in a navigation item or if it's merely a matter of choice and look 'n feel.

This question came to me when someone decided for me to put arrows after navigation items in the design. I'm used to have them in front when dealing with lists or summaries.

live example: a list of interuptions for waterworks:

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2 Answers 2


Arrows (or chevrons) can be indicators of how an item may reveal the next level of content. There is no hard and fast rules, but there are some common patterns.

Chevron before the label: expansion in place

This pattern is similar to a directory tree, and can show various details in place, allowing users to expand multiple rows at once, possibly to compare details across more than one item.

Here's an example for transport line, where the departure time is emphasized, but I can expand to see the stops after I get on, and the final destination. Allowing expansion in place gives me a chance to compare destinations and stops without drilling into only one line.

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Chevron after the label: drilldown to separate view

This is common in iOS apps, where space can be limited, and you want the user to focus only on the details (and settings) of one selected item.

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An arrow indicates:

  • a direction,
  • and a sequence (something goes into the item vs. something goes out of the item).

So, depending on what you need, the arrow can reflect that precisely. However, if you are only using it as a bullet point - I would suggest to use a dash or a dot instead. Why? Because that is the bare minimum necessary to convey the information, without sending unnecessary signals.

Ask yourself the question "what message am I conveying to the user?", and based on that, choose the widget that fits better.

  • Let's say it's not an arrow, but a chevron. Does that change your answer or the logic behind the position? Anyway, I've added some images so it's more clear what we're talking about. Commented Dec 10, 2018 at 11:42

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