Any suggestions besides the obvious pencil or highlighting with colours? I am stumped, this was trickier than I thought. It is for a search function/filter if that helps but a universal symbol would be prefered.

  • i really like Skype's "Pencil with ellipses" icon. But since you don't want a pencil...
    – Ian Boyd
    Commented Aug 8, 2011 at 20:05
  • 4
    Came here looking for this specific question, sad to see it was closed.
    – Greg
    Commented Dec 12, 2012 at 16:34
  • And I, too, eight years later!
    – Robert P
    Commented Aug 27, 2021 at 5:59
  • Ditto, a year and a half after Robert P. Commented Jan 21, 2023 at 17:21

4 Answers 4


Does it need to be an icon? A number of the editors I use show an asterisk next to the file name in the title bar to indicate that the file has been changed.

  • I think the asterisk is as close as we will get for now.
    – fluxd
    Commented Nov 19, 2010 at 7:15
  • Also italicizing the name can indicate pending unsaved changes
    – J. Dimeo
    Commented Jan 24, 2015 at 19:10

What are the things you need to show that have changed? I might make something related to that. Something truly universal can be difficult; I've seen people use a triangle to symbolize a "delta" but that is too mathematical for most people to get.

  • A variety of filters on a search. As the filters are not always in view I need a way to indicate that adjustments have been made.
    – fluxd
    Commented Nov 17, 2010 at 23:42
  • Good point, I was going to suggest a floppy disk icon, which is what Magento uses to remind you that you have unsaved changes, but that wouldn't be appropriate here. However, an attention sign or just a naked exclamation mark might work. Commented Nov 18, 2010 at 10:39
  • yeah, an exclamation point in a yellow triangle or alone might be nice - that's pretty universal. it doesn't really say change but it calls attention.
    – Becky
    Commented Nov 18, 2010 at 21:10

Whatever icon you select is likely to be specific to a given culture, so consistency is likely to be more important than the actual icon.

Things I've seen used ...

  • A tiny (8x8 pixel) disk shown next to the top right of the field

  • Colour and Style change - modified fields changed to Bold and Blue

As a side thought: I think highlighting modified fields is a good idea.

  • Thanks for the tips. I agree on highlighting. It would be prefered but the changed properties are not always in view in this case so Im looking for something general.
    – fluxd
    Commented Nov 17, 2010 at 23:37
  • 1
    When I'm unsure about an icon for conveying a particular concept, what I usually do is go to Google Image Search and do an advanced search for the concept in icon-sized images. In this case, you may want to specify the size, like 16x16, as the larger icons don't seem to produce relevant results. You could also try searching for "edited ico" or "changed icon" in addition to specifying a size. This is an easy way to survey what's out there. Commented Nov 18, 2010 at 10:36

Maybe a pencil erasing a sheet of paper?

  • That sounds like a good one for a reset icon.
    – fluxd
    Commented Nov 18, 2010 at 9:00

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