Imagine layed out in front of you is a large board with little white pieces of paper representing the cover pages of system files on them. You are shown a title, and a modification date. How might one indicate that said file contains not only text, but drawings. Specifically, annotations and highlighted sections?

In my current implementation, I show the same white page, but with it's upper right corner colored yellow, which I'm starting to feel doesn't accurately represent that the document contains annotations.

My initial thought would be to put a bookmark image in place of the yellow corner, but I felt that would be overly-confusing and the wrong symbol for a document containing annotations.

  • 4
    Can you provide an example of what the current interface looks like? Mar 12, 2012 at 5:54
  • A good question, but as always, a picture tells more than a thousand words. Please upload a screenshot of your current solution. This will give us a more correct idea of what the problem is. Mar 12, 2012 at 7:56
  • How many different categories/variations are you trying to capture? Do you imagine that there might be more in the future? The size and spacing also can help determine what type of symbol/icon/graphic you can/should use. If you want more specific help then a screenshot is best.
    – Michael Lai
    Mar 20, 2013 at 0:03

3 Answers 3

  1. If the resolution allows it, you could add a sticky note to the document as a small icon. This way the user can understand that there's some kind of note for the document. (If the user touches/clicks document you could enlarge it to show more information about it e.g. that there are annotations.)

  2. Rather than "only" coloring, you could just fold the corner to indicate some sort of change to the document.

Which ever resolution you choose, you should think about who uses your application. It's a difference, if they use it occasionally or daily. For occasional users it's more important that the icons or metaphors are self-evident and easy to understand in contrast to "power users" who use this application daily.


How about using something as simple as this to denote an annotation enter image description here

  • Where is that icon from?
    – Svish
    Mar 13, 2012 at 9:30
  • A google search
    – Mervin
    Mar 25, 2012 at 8:55

How about using a paper clip representing an attachment? Maybe there could be other attachments as well in the document such as an excel table or a video and not only a drawing?

Paper Clip Icon

  • Where is that paper clip from?
    – Svish
    Mar 13, 2012 at 9:29
  • I made an image search on paper clip icon, and the second image is this on google.se/… Mar 13, 2012 at 9:44
  • Ah ok. Just asked in case it was part of a nice free set you knew about or something :)
    – Svish
    Mar 13, 2012 at 11:02

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