I have a dialog that comes up when someone cancels creating a new piece of data.

They click cancel and the dialog says:

I’m worried this is confusing. What do you think?

Incase you can't see the image it shows:

TITLE: Exist & Cancel New DataItem?

TEXT: You’ll lose any unsaved work.

2 BUTTONS: No, Keep Editing | Yes, Exit This

  • 3
    Yeah, i think it's confusing. This is an age-old issue w/ this specific type of prompt where the yes/no actions often cause confusion based on the verbiage used. Over the last several years i've adopted the same design patterns that big tech cos like Google use, which are to be as straight-forward and explicit as possible with your text and options. In your particular case, i think if you ditch the "NO" & "YES" in your button text it would help a lot. They're adding negative value by making it confusing and the options are clearer without them. (I'd also change, "exit this" to just "exit")
    – ke11en
    Commented Nov 18, 2021 at 16:32
  • Maybe you can give a little bit more context because there is too much unclear. Like what is being canceled exactly and what happens after you cancel it? Same counts for exit: Do you mean exit the dialog or what lies behind it? You can for example call it abandon, abort, undo and close without saving but it all depends on the context.
    – jazZRo
    Commented Nov 18, 2021 at 17:52
  • A user is create a new item. They click on Cancel and this dialog comes up, which is their way of exiting the creation screen. If they keep editing, then they stay on the creation screen, if they click "exit this" then it takes them back to the list view of items. Commented Nov 18, 2021 at 20:42

2 Answers 2


Avoid yes/no when the action is essentially negative (cancel a cancellation). Instead, just use the simplest positive version of the consequence:

Are you sure you wish to exit without creating this item? You will lose your progress.


Continue editing

Also, consider implementing the three-way close dialogue that has become fairly standard:

Save before exiting?



Cancel (do not exit)

One reason is that the two-option modal doesn't have a clear behaviour on exit. If I find a way to close it, will my work be saved or lost?

This would assume that there is a savable state during the item creation phase, of course.


A big issue with the wording of the dialog is how cancel is used. Cancel should only be used as a button that refers to the dialog. It's sort of a reserved word like save.

Here is a discussion about this: What to call "Cancel" when "Cancel" is already the default action?

Also, if it lists multiple events, keep things in order, exiting is the last thing that will happen. It should be a single action if possible.

Here's an example with some different wording:

enter image description here

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