Currently working on the 'tagging' functionality for a page of results.

  • User needs the ability to tag and untag results
  • Page may have active filers that exclude results based on tags

What pattern can I employ that will allow the user to manipulate a group of selected items that have a mix of tags (out of 5 items, maybe only 3 have "Tag 2" for example).

Ideas I have explored:

Simple dropdown A simple dropdown that lists all the available tags, if the items are marked with a tag, the dropdown listing would reveal as "untag" when hovered. This idea break as soon as you have a selection of items that don't all have the same tags.

Checkbox and indeterminate state A list of checkboxes in a dropdown showing all the available tags, if a tag has mixed selections it would show as an indeterminate state. User can check or uncheck desired tags and apply as a single function.

Dropdowns Two separate drop-down buttons, one for "Tag" and another for "Untag". User can make selections and add or remove tags as they wish. The dropdown menu items are not affected in any way by the items that are selected. This option breaks down once you consider the 'exclude' filters. If the first action I was to take causes the copies to be removed from view, I am unable to take the second action.

Dropdown with indeterminate state This would be a simple dropdown but with indetermintate states. If a dropdown menu item has mixed states it doesn't show "untag" on hover, the user only has access to "untag" hover if all selections have that tag.

My preference is for the checkbox option but looking for addition opinions or thoughts on my approach.


default opened Edit: Any more info that could help get some feedback on this?

  • What type of manipulation do you intend to allow the user to do in the group of selected items? Add and remove tags? What else? Sep 10, 2019 at 8:03
  • Only add remove tags, that it all at this stage.
    – Corey
    Sep 10, 2019 at 16:50
  • 1
    Do you want to remove/add tags from all selected (marked with checkbox) items in the list? Isn't it similar to Gmail labels UI In this case first click removes the tag from all selected entries and second adds the tag to all selected entries? Sep 16, 2019 at 22:41
  • What is the reason why you prefer the checkbox option? Are there any constraints or requirements that we should know about?
    – Michael Lai
    Apr 12, 2021 at 23:32

1 Answer 1


There are some applications designed specifically for the application and management of tags which are supposed to be running over existing applications like TagSpaces which provides some ideas of how to do this in a scalable and flexible way.

Fundamental challenges with using tags and designing for them include having a really solid information architecture or understanding of the attributes of the objects/entities that you need to tag, managing the list of tags (for complex objects) and also ensuring that it is not too complex for the user to understand and work with.

I think that the final solution might end up being a combination of the above, depending on the types of tags you are proposing and what the hierarchy looks like. Ultimately the input type needs to fit the data represented and displayed, so perhaps more details will help point to a more suitable answer.

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