I am working on an iPad app that helps to improve physician's workflows. There's this form that the coach will fill out when he is working with the physician. Coach can save the form as a draft (In Progress status), go back to the main page, and then come back later to continue filling out the form. With this functionality, we display this modal asking the user whether or not they are really done with the survey. Once it's done, the data cannot be modified. We are trying to come up with consistent messaging and button labels across our app. In this scenario, we have the alert view as following complete survey

Apple's design guideline states that "Yes/No" are not recommended to use as button labels. Also we should avoid using "You" and "Your" in the message text. We should use a descriptive verb as button label with primary action on the right and secondary on the left. There is another scenario that the user accidentally started filling out a new form, but it was for a wrong physician, so the user wanted to back out of the form to go back to the main screen. We have a Cancel button on the top left of the form screen. Originally we had the "Yes/No" type of answer for alert view after user tapping on "Cancel", but we are trying to follow the Apple design guideline. Here comes the problem, we now have "Cancel" and "Remove" in the alert view when canceling out of a form. Would cancel from a cancel be too confusing? What button labels should I use in this scenario? cancel survey

  • Instead of an overlay over the the form, show the user what they have created and ask them to edit or submit. Using an overlay feels like an alert or interruption. When the user completes the form, go to a review and submit screen. Just keep everything in the same order as the form but easy to read. Then ask for submittal or go back to the form to edit.
    – moot
    Commented Mar 25, 2015 at 21:49
  • Thank you for the response @moot! An Alert view is normally used in iOS apps when saving or discarding changes. We want to draw attention to the user that they need to take the action of either finalize the form or continue to edit the form upon tapping on Done. For the Cancel scenario, we want to let the user know that they are either discarding the form or stay on the form. A review and submit screen would be perfect if this is a form on the web, but it's not common to do this in iOS. We are just trying to figure out the best button labels to use on these alert modals.
    – Lai Xu
    Commented Mar 26, 2015 at 17:11
  • Alerts are universal in their function. Alerts should be used for communications or interactions with the OS (anything outside of the app). In your example, the alerts will communicate interruption and error to the user. They talk about it in iOS Human Interface Guidelines under "avoid creating unnecessary alerts."
    – moot
    Commented Mar 26, 2015 at 22:11
  • "There is another scenario that the user accidentally started filling out a new form, but it was for a wrong physician" - my advice would be to look how this happens and work to prevent it as much as possible. Commented Feb 17, 2017 at 12:00

2 Answers 2


I always feel it's confusing to have 'Cancel' button to cancel a 'Cancel' action. "Continue editing" might sound better.

BTW, Apple's guideline also recommends to use red color for destructive actions such as deleting or removing data.


The question and response options need to be as simple as possible. Both of your options don't really relay that. They actually complicate what the user is supposed to do.

That said, "Done" is the wrong term. It should be "Save" if it's a draft option. That way, when new data is input, users have two options: Save or Cancel. If Cancel, alert that displays "Are you sure you want to delete this survey?" with options "Cancel" and "Delete".

Then at the bottom of the survey there should be a "Submit" or "Complete" button, that way you have a clear separation of terms. One to save, one to cancel, and one to complete. That also means once you save, the "Cancel" function should change to "Back" because it's no longer a cancel function.

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