When working with a UI that relies more on text than on icons it's common to find + to mean Add, - to mean Delete/Remove and X for Close (or also Delete/Remove). But is there a common character meaning Edit?

If using icons, a pencil seems to be the generally accepted symbol, but we're trying to minimize icon use.

  • 5
    For close, don't use a letter x. Use a times symbol × (× as an escaped entity). It looks better. Oct 10, 2011 at 23:07
  • This is an implementation problem NOT a UX problem. Jun 19, 2013 at 15:19

5 Answers 5


Not really.

As Tommy says, * often means it has been changed.

r and w are common technical characters in context of being readable and writable.

> can be used in context of a menu, or moving forward, or perhaps to 'move on' to an action but that action could be anything , so it's meaning would really not be clear other than by experimentation. In which case you might as well use e.

But - dare I say it, edit is itself not a long word...and commonly used where icons are not. eg here on SE, Wikipedia, and a brazilian other places.

  • 4
    I like the idea of just using edit. Dont be afraid of good old fashion, but clear, words.
    – jonshariat
    Jul 6, 2011 at 20:41
  • 3
    Not so short in other languages, such as bearbeiten in German. Sep 30, 2014 at 6:52
  • If you're German and you don't understand "edit" to be short for "editieren" you do not deserve to be taken into consideration when designing a user interface. Jul 12, 2018 at 14:23

There are some Unicode characters you could use. "Lower Right Pencil" (✎ in HTML) or "Writing Hand" (✍). They look like this:

✎ ✍

You could try using different Unicode fonts or font sizes to make them look nicer.


In order to indicate further detail (normally allowing edition), ellipsis ... is used.

So I think it could work if edition is not in-place (a new window/callout tooltip is used for editing), and the ellipsis button opens the editable detail view.

Note that, although it is not a single character in ASCII, it is an Unicode character (U+2026) and an HTML entity (…).


I don't think there's a standard character for it. Maybe you could use an asterisk. It's already kind of used in this context: when you open a document in a lot of Windows applications, they put an asterisk after the file name, if it has unsaved changes.


This is a bit dated but here it goes.

EDIT is sort of a broad use item that has different application

  • ie a graphic (cut and paste)
  • a list (insert, change, and move)
  • some text data (find replace, spell check, font properties)

That's just to name a few. My experience comes a little bit from hardware as in the audio recording/editing industry where buttons have symbols

  • play ascii(62) '>'
  • stop ascii(254) '■'
  • Rec ascii(250) '·' but in a much larger size
  • edit ascii(94) '^'

but if your developing for windows and you just want to use single characters you might experiment with Symbol and wingding fonts

good luck

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