I have a table with some columns showing Boolean values of Yes/No. What do you think is the best way to show it?

Several alternatives I can think of are:

  • Leave the Yes/No labels
  • Utilize a Check-box control
  • Use icons (V and X for instance)
  • Use plus and minus signs

What would work best?

  • Some of the examples could lead to confusion, such as the plus and minus. Plus and minus what? Can we add or subtract by clicking? Plus and minus don't really say "boolean" to me. The other examples are better though.
    – daydalis
    Commented Jan 7, 2013 at 12:39
  • This looks like a request for the proper icon for a certain feature, which the FAQs say is not a suitable question: "I'm having trouble coming up with a good icon for feature X. Should I ask here for ideas? No." Commented Jan 9, 2013 at 17:00
  • 2
    Yes, icon requests are off topic, but I don't think that's the case here; it's about usage of boolean indicators such as radio buttons and the like. That's OK to ask here. Provided the answers aren't just icon suggestions which wouldn't be appropriate.
    – JonW
    Commented Jan 9, 2013 at 19:31

4 Answers 4


I would implement something that stands out very clear, and also shows the third option (no data available). Like the following where you have both colors and unmistakable signs to show each value:

enter image description here

  • 1
    This is very nice. The only comment I have is that the question mark seems a little ambiguous, and some people might think it means that there is a problem, or the system doesn't know the data for that box. I would just have a blank check box.
    – daydalis
    Commented Jan 7, 2013 at 12:33
  • 1
    @daydalis A blank checkbox could be mistaken for "No" instead of "No value" in the case where no other "No" are available. And yes, the questionmark represents no value as in "the system doesn't know the data for that box". Commented Jan 7, 2013 at 12:37
  • 1
    If there is no input, I would just put the check marks/cross without the box. And for absolute clarity, put a title on the question mark displaying 'no data available' or words to that effect.
    – Inca
    Commented Jan 7, 2013 at 12:41
  • @Inca Good point! That might be even better. A question mark could be mistaken for "there should be no value" as well. Thanks for that tip! Commented Jan 7, 2013 at 12:44
  • +1 Only gripe I have with this is that the "No's" attract more attention than the "Yes'". I'd probably use a grey scale cross to tone it down. Commented Jan 7, 2013 at 20:04

I think that some ckeckbox-like control with distinct states will be clear enough:

enter image description here


If you would like to show read only data, green check and red cross are the best alternatives I guess. Yes/No labels are hard to perceive but may be augemented with color coding... I also recommend larger check icons compared to the cross icon size. Of course this depends on context as well... If No does not have a very negative meaning (i.e. Warning, error etc.) then unchecked checkboxes would be a better alternative.

If there is a state where the data is neither yes nor no then a "-" or "na" would be ok. Again how user will interpret this depends on the context...

If user is able to manipulate the data then checkboxes of various types would be conventional to use...


I would stick with radio buttons for this one as they are perfect for choosing only 1 value in 2 or more options and also to avoid the confusion of no value that might occur with a checkbox you can especify the labels on the table headers (yes, no) and each row can show the radio button checked to especify the value

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

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