This is an enterprise web application. It has a workspace in which a file can have multiple tabs. The user opens the file, then creates as many tabs as they want (up to some reasonable limit) to explore different dimensions of the file. Which of these locations for a file title is better?

  • One option is to have the title on the same bar as the file related options.
  • The other is to have it on the same bar as the tabs.

I have a clear preference, but I won't say which it is.

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  • 1
    I also have a clear preference, and won’t say what it is ;) it is kind of unfair to ask for answers (presumably A or B + why), but not share your own thoughts.
    – wintvelt
    Commented Jan 31, 2020 at 10:54
  • 2
    The whole point of asking here is to get unbiased answers, not confirmation of what I want to hear.
    – JClaussFTW
    Commented Jan 31, 2020 at 11:03
  • I think in the tab and try to make it more clear for color highlight with suitable contrast background-color
    – 7usien
    Commented Feb 1, 2020 at 20:08

4 Answers 4


Both versions have their pros and cons. The best solution would depend somewhat of the context:

  • How often users would switch between files versus switch between tabs
  • If the title of the file is needed for identifying the content of a tab (e.g. if all files have the same tab-titles, then it may be better to have the file title closer to the tab titles)
  • The screen size

PRO version 1: file title in the top

  • Distinction between the file title and the tabs is more clear. Less chance that users will confuse the title of the file with the title of a tab.
  • If users spend a long time in the same file, the file title in the top is more "out of the way". Users may not need to be reminded about the file title when switching tabs. The file title does not take up unnecessary screen real estate in the tab navigation section.
  • The file title on the top of the screen may be more familiar to users since it is a common way to organize this info in other apps (although excel show tabs at the bottom)

PRO version 2: file title left of tabs

  • Top left of the screen is a more logical place to show the main identification of the content of the screen. Not on phone screen size, but especially if the screen size is large.
  • The file title may be part of the navigation structure: if users need the file title + tab title to know what content they will see, it is better to have doc title closer to tab titles
  • The file title to the left of the tabs could/ should be made visually different from the tab titles, so the user understands the hierarchy (all tab titles are 'children' of the doc title).

Filename centered on title bar area feels more like an application

This pattern has been used by major applications that deal with file reading/writing. For example, Microsoft Excel does this with the "Book" title, which contains multiple "Sheets" which are rendered as tabs. Assuming it's appropriate for your use case, leveraging this familiarity can be very powerful.

Filename to the left of tabs feels more like a website

I'm not sure if I've seen the "current tab's filename on the left of the tabs" pattern before in the context of dealing with files. However, I have seen the...

{TITLE OF MAIN OBJECT}  {Section 1 tab} {Section 2 tab} {Section 3 tab}...

...pattern before. A common web layout (such as the out-of-the-box Bootstrap design framework) uses this information architecture, where the logo is in the top left and navigation tabs to the right that explore subsections of the site.

But since you mentioned your application is web-based...

Either would work

Option 1 may have more of an "application" feel, while Option 2 may have more of a "web" feel based only on where these organizational patterns have been commonly used. (I might personally go with the first option, just to have breathing room for longer filenames.) Unfortunately, there are many of these kinds of awkward decisions when developing software that kind of straddles two design paradigms...


I think the version where the title is on the left of the tabs reads easier, shows the relationship better and makes more sense.

  • Thanks for your contribution to UXSE. Can you expand on why you think that version is more readable/legible, and how it address the particular scenario in the question asked?
    – Michael Lai
    Commented Feb 3, 2020 at 23:08

Title at the Top (first screen shown)
Why? It's familiar. Many popular applications use a similar layout and straying from that could result in confusion. That said, I would hope that the title of the workspace would be mutually exclusive of the tab where work is done. It would be my hope that when a new workspace is opened, one tab would always show by default.

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