Use case: User wants to find employees from a list based on some criteria. To simplify things let's say it is spoken language attribute only. Case 1: user wants to find person speaking multilingual - every selected language. Case 2: user wants to find person speaking any of selected languages.

What is best way to select languages covering both cases? For common user knowledge of boolean algebra is not expected.


download bmml source – Wireframes created with Balsamiq Mockups

  • See suggestions at ux.stackexchange.com/questions/1737/…. A variation on Hisham's answer seems apt for your design, where the user explicitly selects if "Any" or "All" apply to each employee. May 3, 2012 at 11:46
  • Thanks for reference. I wanted to avoid this kind of dialog - too many clicks. May 3, 2012 at 13:07

2 Answers 2


I would expect most (if not all) users to understand "and" and "or" operators even if they don't know it's Boolean logic. The conditions translate to natural language:

I want to find all users that speak French and German.

I want to find all users that speak English or Norwegian.

So you can simply display the words "and" and "or" in your UI when the user selects the "add a new condition" option.

Given your mockup this could be implemented by having a radio button (or perhaps a combo) in the languages section that has the values "any" and "all" rather than "or" and "and":


download bmml source – Wireframes created with Balsamiq Mockups

and a similar one for skills.

  • See my mockup: current "query" allows to select one or more attributes. It is uncertain, whether filtered employees have any (or) or all (and) attributes. In other words, I can cover (and document + educate users) either case 1, or case 2. I want users to choose which case to use for every attribute. Your suggestion, if I undesrtand correctly, is to add another radio button with and/or options. Isn't it right? May 3, 2012 at 10:37
  • @FrantisekKossuth - I'll update the answer given your mockup.
    – ChrisF
    May 3, 2012 at 10:54
  • I think this suggestion is good, though I'd probably not use a dropdown here but exclusive buttons to select Any or All. That saves a click, and makes it easier to spot the available options.
    – André
    May 3, 2012 at 14:38
  • @André Possibly a segmented control? This would allow the buttons/actions to be grouped nicely, will still allowing visibility into both distinct options unlike with a dropdown.
    – GotDibbs
    May 3, 2012 at 17:51
  • @GotDibbs - the problem with segmented control (or state buttons) AND one/two options is to identify, which control/highlight means active value. For three+ values it is the "different" one, but for one or two values it is uncertain, what value is selected. Therefore I don't like that control :-) May 4, 2012 at 7:20

You can allow users to specify "all" or "any" and then select the languages. I've seen technical neophytes get that wtihout trouble, though my evidence is anecdotal (relatives), not formal (studies).

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