Up to now we use the following ascii art to show the difference in our mail/ticket system:

--> means "incoming"
<-- means "outgoing"

But some users complain, that it is not immediately clear what this means.

But some how I don't like this. "i" like incoming ....


The icon (or ascii art) is used if there are several tickets/mails displayed in a table.

How could you display this short and easy to understand?

Update1: It is an intranet web frontend.

Update2: One place where we display incoming and outgoing mails in one place: mail threads. It should be clear which mails were sent and which were received.

3 Answers 3





Or this:


If the system is UNICODE enabled there are many graphical symbols accessible:



The above variants are easy to be expressed graphically: some arrow + some box

  • Not only that, but these are pretty standard icons. Every icon set I've ever used has had symbols similar to this for purposes such as this.
    – John S
    Commented Feb 11, 2013 at 16:51
  • The top ones are defiantly better, they are more recognizable and easier to "learn"
    – Andrey
    Commented Feb 12, 2013 at 14:44




Same/fewer characters, instant understanding (assuming your users are native English speakers...if they're not then adding "i" and "o" won't help anyway).


Is this a GUI, or a command-line interface, or...? It would be nice to have more than ASCII at your disposal :) If it's impossible, these are some images I would consider for incoming/outgoing icons.

enter image description here enter image description here

more icons... consider color coding them to add further clarity.

Finally, I'd consider creating two totally different places for managing incoming and outgoing tickets (ie, a regularly-monitored inbox for things that need your attention and a rarely-visited outbox to review your history). Clearly differentiating between the two is important--perhaps they are different enough to warrant their own views?

  • Thank you for your answer, I updated the question (intranet web frontend, mail threads)
    – guettli
    Commented Feb 12, 2013 at 7:53

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