I'm developing an Android application that presents the user with a search form, then presents a list of matching results after the query has been submitted. The results will be displayed on a separate screen.

The preferred design pattern in Android is to place "Submit" and other important actions into the Action Bar, which is a dedicated menu area typically displayed at the top of the screen:

Action Bar example

Which type of icon should I use to represent "Submit" in this menu? I found a few possibile candidates (the three shown here are Android system icons from the Iconography guide), but I'm not sure about any of them. Is there a generally accepted icon for this or is nearly anything a reasonable choice because of the context?

  • I strongly prefer the arrow, but don't have a good argument for it right now :P Commented Sep 14, 2012 at 16:09
  • 1
    I hate when I get comments like this on my own questions, but... Is the icon really necessary here?
    – dennislees
    Commented Sep 14, 2012 at 20:06
  • @dennislees Hmmmmm, that is probably the correct answer for my situation. I'm still interested in finding out if there's any well-known visual indication for a "submit" action.
    – quietmint
    Commented Sep 15, 2012 at 2:25
  • I'm afraid that as per our FAQ icon request questions are off topic for this site. There is no such thing as a correct answer to these type of questions, as has been mentioned on our meta site on several occasions.
    – JonW
    Commented Sep 27, 2012 at 20:08

2 Answers 2


Note: this answer mainly applies to LTR languages, but seems to cover this situation.

I don't think there is one icon to rule them all per say in this situation. This is due in part to the fact that the icon is not always necessary in these situations. Often the text is enough. I do consider the arrow to be the most generally used icon in this situation though.

in your screenshot, either of the arrows should work fine. The thing to think about here is that arrows denote movement, in this case forward progression to a result page. This is in contrast to the checkmark which generally denotes completion of an activity. Completing something generally returns you to a previous location.

Another thing to note is that since the arrows are denoting forward progression here in a multi-step process (enter search term, browse search results) they should be on the right of the text as they move you *past the action.

As far as beyond those points, I would say that stylistically I prefer the second icon as it takes up less real estate and indicates the same thing.

  • Thanks for your thoughts. I think you're right on with the movement thing. Regarding the position, Android always places the menu icon (if any) to the left of the text (if any, and if screen space allows the text to fit).
    – quietmint
    Commented Sep 15, 2012 at 2:28

In most Android applications, the search function presents a list of pre-populated search queries, much like google, and what it appears you have in the screen shot. So clicking on one of those would automatically submit as it's the most intuitive. However the return key on the keyboard, in most apps, submits the search. (ie. spotify for 4.1) I'd say you don't need a submit button, just stick with old faithful.

  • 1
    This is not appropriate for my application. Due to the nature of the information, it's not possible to prepopulate any of these fields and the user must supply information for mutliple fields before querying. Determining when the user is "done" is also non-trivial with optional fields, required field dependencies, etc. Moreover, I don't think this is a good idea in general. See also: ux.stackexchange.com/q/23440/15990 and ux.stackexchange.com/q/8876/15990
    – quietmint
    Commented Sep 14, 2012 at 19:37

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.