Edit: one of the answers shows an set of icons, and 85% of them are right handed. Wiki data and other studies tend to agree with those numbers. But maybe this is only coincidence?

Edit 2: Since there is no universal standard as pointed out in answers below, it might also be possible it has to do with mouse pointer being right handed and left to right writing.

A similar question has been asked on LinkedIn.


I don't think your assumption "handle is always pointing right" is quite true. ;-)

An icon is simply a representation of an action, and there's no "universal standard" regarding the visual appearance they should have...

Bing search icon:
enter image description here

Google search icon:
enter image description here

Search result for "magnifying glass icon":
enter image description here

  • 1
    Statistically, just from your image, approx. 9 of 60 (15%) of the magnifiers were 'right handed.' OP's "always" may have been technically wrong, but not too far oof Dec 21 '14 at 18:53
  • 1
    Yea. I didn't try to convince OP anything regarding the distribution. I just wanted to point out that there are lots of varieties in the visual appearance of such icons. Also when it comes to the direction of the handle. Dec 21 '14 at 19:05

I think it's mainly practical- when working with the smallest icons (say 16 x 16) it would take up too much space/too many pixels to orient the glass vertically, so by tilting it you can show more detail (bigger lens and bigger handle).

As to the bias towards right handed, I do think that reflects the bias in the population.


I wonder if the writer literally means right handed or positioned on the right. I think positioning on the right is indeed because more people are right handed. The left or right handed of icon itself is irrellevant I think.

  • I meant right handed, but that's a good point as well Dec 21 '14 at 23:58

As bigger players use symbols to mean certain things then it starts to become a standard.

Find/search is not yet a standard from what I can tell.

In the Microsoft standard to the right is magnify and to the left is search.
Guidelines for Segoe UI Symbol icons

  • Hard to tell from that why Bing has changed the orientation of the search icon from 🔎 to 🔍.
    – Wolf
    Sep 6 at 11:50

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