I have had a quick look on this site but haven't found anything to help me (unless my search terms were poor). Anyway I came across a post a while back saying that for the cursor on zoom, a magnifying glass with the plus sign inside is the best way to go. However from what I've seen in the past and what I personally find to be the most visually appealing, is with the plus sign to the right of the glass. I was just wondering what your thoughts on this are? Which is better? Or is there an alternative way I'm missing that just dwarfs the first two examples?

  • Whoever voted to close this question: I understand why you might have considered this opinion-based (and I thought about closing it too!), but upon reflection I think there is an objective, usability-based approach to answering this question which I have outlined below.
    – tohster
    Commented Apr 14, 2015 at 17:19

1 Answer 1


Think about what your users need

The magnifying glass is a very well understood idiom for zoom, so it's probably the right cursor to use.

The use of inset (plus on the inside) vs offset (plus to the right) will depend on the size and use of the cursor. For example:

  • For large cursors the inset cursor is visually simpler than the offset cursor, so option B below is better than A. For small cursors, the plus sign is hard to discern for the inset version, so the offset cursor is typically used in this situation (i.e. C is better than D):

    enter image description here

  • The inset cursor provides better affordance of precision for users because it's reasonably clear that the focus of the icon is inside the magnifying glass. For the offset icon, it's unclear where the 'tip' of the icon is. So for detailed work, the inset icon is more suitable:

    enter image description here

...so by focusing on user needs rather than what is most visually pleasing, you're more likely to arrive at a more usable choice for your app.


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