I have some panels that are sometimes oriented vertically and sometimes horizontally. When they're vertical, the title's on top with two square buttons [ - ] windowshade and [ x ] close. The title bar is also a handle for dragging to relocate it. When its horizontal, the whole title bar is rotated 90 degrees, but the content remains upside right and sometimes has to rearrange. This includes the text. The [ x ] button looks the same rotated 90, but I don't know what to do with the windowshade button. Do I flip it or not?

To avoid discussion type answers, I need justifications grounded in examples or precedent. For example, "The minus sign was originally intended to be a depiction of what the titlebar looks like when its shaded, so flip it" or "A button like [ | ] has a different meaning so its best to keep it horizontal" or "insert program name does it this way, so you should too"

  • I'd say, it very much depends on how it is displayed if minimized. If clicking the "-" turns it into a vertical bar, than it makes sense to use it vertically as "|", but as that is not the convention, it could confuse more than it actually explains. If it minimizes towards the windows taskbar, a "-" or "_" makes the most sense, + it's a convention and widely used as a "go away" state. In the early days of windows (<= win95 RC), there was no minimize like you know it, it simply was being displayed on the desktop menu; so I'd really stick to the known convention of "minus" as "minizize" icon.
    – Xabre
    Sep 17, 2015 at 8:48
  • When it minimizes only the title bar remains visible, the contents are hidden. You say minus, as in the written symbol. Since the text is getting flipped, would it be logical to flip the minus too, since its a single ASCII char?
    – gunfulker
    Sep 18, 2015 at 4:44
  • 1
    I can only offer my intuition which is to keep it as the horizontal line. Sure logically it makes more sense to have it be vertical but most users aren't going to think through the logic behind the button they're going to go for recognizability.
    – DasBeasto
    Sep 19, 2015 at 0:39

1 Answer 1


Well, I'm going to try to answer that with an analogy found in windows, as there the minimize button "_" is representing where it will be placed: in the taskbar, this makes sense in a horizontal depiction, but the taskbar can just as well be on the left, right or top. However, in such a case, the minimize button doesn't change direction. Why? Because they kept consistency over everything (although you could always argue that it should be rotated).

So don't "rotate" the "minus" but keep it horizontal at all times (rightmost image). In such a case, doing that will make it much easier to understand.

enter image description here

The alternative

You could also try and see if other icons like triangles aren't better suit for your needs. In such a case, rotating would make sense as it depicts the direction of the content. In photoshop, for instance, they have this effect with their double arrows to minimize toolwindows to the side.

enter image description here


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