I've confused myself with a bunch of different Cancel buttons.

In this scenario, the user initiates the "Document Packer", and starts to add items to their new pack. Before saving their new pack, they can change their mind and dispose of their current work-in-progress by clicking the 'Cancel' button [Step 1 in the diagram below]. Validation appears to confirm their premature exit.

However, what words should I use for cancelling/confirming this validation? [Step 2 in the diagram below]

I now have two opposite meanings for the word 'cancel'.

Rather than 'cancel', I've reworded the validation confirmation to 'Exit Now', but even that seems a bit convoluted.


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6 Answers 6


I've just come across this article and it's reminded me of your situation, enjoy.


  • 1
    This is great, thank you! I think the core of this issue was actually the Step1 Cancel rather than the validation. With this in mind, I think I'm going to change the Step1 button to "Exit". Then have the validation confirmation be "Exit Now", and the validation dismissal be "Cancel". Jul 23, 2019 at 10:48

Is there any possibility of using a "close" icon in the modal window?

Maybe you've answered your own question when you say the user can "dispose" of the packing work, use that. Or something like "stop" might be helpful too.


Looking at the wording you have used in the dialog, I would consider using "Leave" and "Return to Document Packer" to replace Cancel. But the latter feels too long for a button label.

Looking at the process, the button clicked is labeled "Cancel" and the dialog asks "Are you sure?", so we need button labels to give the correct response to this question, which could be "yes, no"...But yes, no to what...we are now asking the user to think, stop and actually fully read the dialog to understand what yes and no are. So we need to give a further prompt to the meaning behind the buttons.

We could change the title to ask "Leave Document Packer Mode?", giving a better clue to the user what is going on and they don't need to fully read the smaller body text.

Adding more detail to the buttons we can change to say "Yes, leave" and "No, return", now giving an understanding of the dialog to the user just from the buttons.

If we were to read the title and body text now, we can see the buttons give the correct response choices to the question asked.

Something else I spotted. The #1 button on the main window titled Cancel, if that was changed to Leave it would match up completely to my answer.

  • Regarding your final point, I think you found it. The core of the issue is the Step1 Cancel button; this can easily be changed to something else, like 'Exit' 'Leave' or 'Finish', freeing up the language stalemate. I feel like 'Yes, leave' and 'No, return' read like oxymorons unfortunately. There's a confusing mental gymnastics you have to perform for the grammatical mathematics. Jul 23, 2019 at 10:51

"Continue Packing"

I am a big believer in button copy being able to stand alone even if users do not read the dialog. Dialogs are usually a nuisance, so even if the user only reads the buttons, the choice between "Exit Now" and "Continue Packing" is clear and simple.

Alternatively, a better approach may be to skip the confirmation dialog and allow the user to retrieve their work if they accidentally cancel packing. Both approaches help prevent mistakes, but an undo option means fewer clicks when they really mean to cancel, and less dialog fatigue so they are more likely to pay attention when an important one appears.


"Confirm Cancel" and "Return to Document Packer" would be my suggestion.

  • 1
    "Confirm Cancel" definitely reads like a bit of an oxymoron though. Jul 23, 2019 at 10:47
  • "Yes, please cancel" and "No, return to document picker" Jul 23, 2019 at 11:09

You have "...if you LEAVE Document Packer Mode..." in the dialog message. [Yes, Leave Packer] [No, Return to Document Packer]

Keep the copy in your dialog message consistent with the button copy --> This reinforces the message. Also, provide an answer to your question, 'Yes' and 'No' at the beginning of your button copy might be enough to guide the user in the intended direction.

  • This definitely solves the issue by method of being explicitly lengthy, but it isn't too ideal. I'd hope we could find established verbs which communicate the same message in a smaller package. Jul 23, 2019 at 10:45

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