One modal-box asks the user wether they want to really cancel the request. Now there are two buttons (submit) and (cancel), but how to best name them? All other modals use text like "proceed" (submit) and "cancel" (cancel) - but wouldn't it be confusing to use "cancel request" and "cancel"?

What would be better options?

  • 2
    is this not pretty much the same as ux.stackexchange.com/questions/35753/…? Try to get rid of the modal dialog. Label the button with what it does: Cancel Request or Send Request
    – Lothar
    Commented Mar 5, 2013 at 14:37
  • 3
    @Lothar_K, to be fair, this was asked months ago, whereas the linked one was asked yesterday.
    – zzzzBov
    Commented Mar 5, 2013 at 19:20

3 Answers 3


So if I'm not mistaken, if I'm really reading this correctly, the Cancel button Cancels the Cancel button? It sounds like it could easily confuse folk.

What is the tone of voice like in your system? I like to use real English as it allows for more precise descriptions, so I'd have something like "Are you sure you want to cancel?" with "Yes, please cancel" and "No, thank you"

Maybe something can be done with the question wording leaving you with a closed question and therefore a boolean. "You are about to cancel this record, are you sure you wish to proceed?" would leave the users with Yes/No options avoiding the word 'Cancel'

  • Oh, thank you TJH, nice idea! I like what you suggested about: are you sure you want to proceed? -> Proceed/Cancel. The problem is that the dialogs are really small in size, so the text on the buttons should not be sooo long..
    – Chris
    Commented Jul 27, 2012 at 9:41

Never use the word "cancel"

Why is the word "cancel" so problematic? "Cancel" can be understood differently at different conceptual levels:

  1. Cancel the dialogue and close it
  2. Cancel the service

What happens when the two levels have to contradict, exactly opposite meanings? For example:

  • For a dialogue to cancel downloads OK means cancelling the download and Cancel continuing the download!
  • For a dialogue to reset to factory settings OK means cancelling any changes you've made in the settings and Cancel means not cancelling them!
  • And finally, as you asked: For a dialogue to cancel a request OK means cancelling the request and Cancel does not!

Solution: Don't use the word "Cancel".

Instead, say:

  • Stop downloading and Continue downloading
  • Reset and Leave as is
  • Withdraw the request (as proposed by @Pesikar) and Submit the request

You could name your Cancel Request into something else like Withdraw Request to prevent confusion with the Cancel of the action in your application.

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