I understand that using a localized word for "remove" or "delete" item would be the most clear way to communicate the action, however, we are looking for a universal icon to communicate this without the need to translate it into different languages.

We are considering the following and I would like to hear the pros and cons of each. Thanks

1. Trash icon


2. Cross icon


  • 3
    A minus character, Θ, as a button also conveys Remove, rather than Delete or Exit. Commented Mar 4, 2015 at 14:48
  • 3
    We considered a minus icon but that sometimes means expand / collapse and may look like an underscore or something else.
    – DaveAlger
    Commented Mar 4, 2015 at 14:56
  • Either one. Add the word Delete as a column header. If that really is for IP RANGES then a techie is going to get it either way.
    – paparazzo
    Commented Mar 4, 2015 at 15:41
  • I'm still searching for data on Option 2 which seems the most universal to me but not sure if something else tests better.
    – DaveAlger
    Commented Mar 4, 2015 at 15:48

2 Answers 2


Short answer: No.

Slightly longer answer: It depends where you are removing items to. A trash-can may imply that items are recoverable just as an 'X' may imply hiding rather than removing.

My suggestion would be to re-examine the processes around the 'removal' to find something that works contextually and is consistent with the way icons are used in the rest of the system.

  • yeah the real answer truly is No but I do think IT nerds have been conditioned to realize that clicking an X will make something go away - the trash can raises more questions than it answers
    – DaveAlger
    Commented Mar 5, 2015 at 11:50

Both icons are:

  • Ubiquitous enough that they're as close to "universal" as it gets with icons.
  • Used broadly enough that users -- particularly technical users who understand concepts like IP addresses -- are quite resilient/tolerant when it comes to figuring out intent for the button.

That said, here are some suggestions for your particular wireframe:

  1. I prefer the x to the trash icon:

    • First, because you are using the + symbol for adding an icon, so the x provides better control mapping because it's also a symbol.
    • Second, from a visual perspective the x is a simpler shape to scan relative to the other text in the table (no interior space, the other 'outlined' objects are text boxes, etc) so presenting a row of them is easier on the brain. If you end up using the trash can, I'd suggest removing the interior lines to ease scanning, maybe something like this.
  2. It would be good to make clearer what the user is deleting. The x appears at the end of the row, but there is no border or shading for the row itself, so it'd be good to visually relate the x to the row. Add lines, or use shading to do this.

  3. The + and x are related functions, but the icons are very different (the + is encircled, thinner, etc). When you rev the design you may want to normalize the two icons to communicate the relationship better.

Hope that helps.

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