We're debating inside our team on whether to use a question mark icon, or an "i" icon for prompting a tooltip that reveals more info.

Which do you say conveys the message better? Or, how do they differ in the message they convey?

  • 2
    Is it more information of more help. On this page they have ?. I like ? but you I think you should call it help over information.
    – paparazzo
    Commented Sep 29, 2014 at 14:33

3 Answers 3


The convention is that the question mark indicates extensive help is available, provides an interface for someone having a problem to click, and implies that a more sophisticated means of resolving the problem is being offered. The (i) indicates only that some additional explanatory information is available, but not an extensive help system.

Think of an (i) icon as being analogous to no more than the instruction plate mounted next to an operating control on a machine, and the (?) icon as being analogous to a link to the to the entire system's operating manual, already opened to the relevant page.

For your described use case it sounds like the (i) icon is appropriate.

  • +1 but if you look at this site the ? icon is use for specific help.
    – paparazzo
    Commented Sep 29, 2014 at 14:44
  • Indeed, (i) and (?) have different semantics. Commented Sep 29, 2014 at 17:55
  • 12
    The Windows Design Guidelines agree with this answer: msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/windows/desktop/…
    – David
    Commented Sep 29, 2014 at 19:58
  • 2
    Agree with the answer, but not sure I'd call it a convention though noting how many sites do not follow it. Commented Sep 29, 2014 at 22:14
  • 5
    A convention isn't defined by the exceptions, but by its acceptance. And this is what people expect today. Commented Sep 30, 2014 at 1:10

The difference between the symbols as UI element is that, from the perspective of the system, "?" is passive, and "i" is active:

With the "?", the system offers the information to the user, that he needs when he has a question.

With the "i", the system offers the additional information to the user, that may be useful even when he does not have a question.

So "i" is the right one to use if you have information that

  • the user would not ask for, because he's not missing it
  • is useful for a user who is interested in the details.
  • You didn't mention an i Commented Sep 30, 2014 at 12:09
  • Oops, need coffee, thanks ;) Edited "!" to "i". Commented Sep 30, 2014 at 12:14

"i" when information is already present and known to the user, but is not visible directly. Indicates general guides to help the user.

"?" when information is already present/ being used and might know it or is uncertain about it, also the information is not visible. Indicates the complete understanding of the basic info available.

  • 1
    Can you provide more detail here? Is this an established standard or just your opinion? How do you know that everyone looking at 'i' or '?' shares your opinion?
    – JonW
    Commented Feb 25, 2020 at 13:52

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