Suppose one has a list of 5 to 40 items on a web page, and suppose further that one wants to enable the user to delete one or several of the items by checking a checkbox and then clicking a delete button at the bottom (or top). What should the button be labeled with?

  • Delete
  • Delete checked
  • Delete checked items

(Of course, "items" might be replaced with the specific kind of thing, e.g. emails or files.)

And, as a follow-up--would the same logic be applicable to other bulk tasks (e.g. send checked items, print checked items, mark checked items for follow-up)?

  • Instead of "items", could you use the name of the item type? For example "Delete Addresses"
    – Erics
    Nov 3 '11 at 5:58
  • Yep, I thought '"items" might be replaced with the specific kind of thing, e.g. emails or files.' Nov 8 '11 at 18:39

I'd go with "Delete N items", where N is the number of checked items, and just "Delete" when only one item is checked. This way you're giving more precise information on what the user is about to do, so they can be sure that's really what they wanted.

  • 3
    I like your idea of including "n items," but following from my response, I think you need to say "Delete 1 item" when only one is selected.
    – msanford
    Nov 2 '11 at 19:31
  • Furthermore, if no items are checked then the button should be disabled.
    – Erics
    Nov 3 '11 at 5:57

While "Delete" may seem obvious enough, you'd be surprised how often something that seems obvious, when scaled or re-implemented/re-purposed for another tool, becomes indecipherable.

I would strongly suggest you go with "Delete checked items" to ensure maximum clarity.

Furthermore, as an accessibility (a11y) consideration, you want to ensure that visitors who use technologies like screen readers, will correctly interpret exactly what action the button accomplishes.


Definately "Delete Checked" or "Delete Checked Items" or similar, which indicates that items need to be checked and these will be deleted. If it is just Delete, this is not clear exactly what is to be deleted - at least, there is a potential for confusion.

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