I am currently working on a system that involves removing sections of an application and rows in a table. Do you think it acceptable to have one remove button and one cancel button (x icon) which do similar things in different areas of the system?

My other alternative would be to have one type of button with single functionality in the form of a bin.

  • 2
    It might be appropriate in different parts of the system if the context if different. The diction makes a big difference in how the user perceives the action. A user directed me to this uxbooth.com/articles/the-grammar-of-interactivity . I suggest looking at each section and its context and see if the functionality consistently makes sense in those context throughout the whole system.
    – Chromarush
    Commented Oct 27, 2014 at 12:52
  • Can you eloborate on what exactly the cancel button does in the table
    – Mervin
    Commented Oct 27, 2014 at 17:45
  • I believe explaining your question with an example for each case would help us to give you the right feedback. Commented Oct 28, 2014 at 22:33

2 Answers 2


In my experience, Remove and Cancel are two different actions and should be treated differently.

Remove implies a destructive edit (removing data that has already been created).

Cancel implies a non-destructive function (such as closing out of a save modal) or exiting a data creation flow prior to saving the data to the database (such as at the end of a sign up form).

The one suggestion I'd make is to NOT use a Cancel button when dealing with destructive edits. That said, the choice to treat the two buttons for section removal and table row removal differently requires more context as @Chromarush stated in his comment.


The answer, as in many UX situations, is "It depends."

But seriously, it sounds like:

  1. there are some areas of the system in which the Cancel button and the Remove button do different things, and need to be differentiated from each other.
  2. there are some areas of the system in which they do pretty much the same thing.

First, we'd need to find out whether it is necessary to have both buttons present in all situations.

If not, then having the right buttons there in the right circumstances will be helpful.

Second, if the difference isn't clear, we can often look to copy or visual placement to clarify the differing roles of these buttons. Some approaches may be:

  • renaming the buttons - it may be that "Cancel" and "Remove" aren't the right names for these buttons. You can look at other names that would clarify their difference, or look at providing help copy that clarifies their difference. But in choosing this approach, remember that, as a general rule, if you're writing too much copy to explain how something works, there's probably something wrong with the design that should be remedied first.

  • placing the buttons close to the things they act on. If the buttons tend to work on things close to them, the placement can help clarify the difference between them.

There are other approaches that can be helpful, too. These are general approaches that can help frame the problem for you. If this doesn't help, just come back and provide some screen shots and examples so we can give you more specific feedback.

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