Given the three below text blocks, how should I label the first one "Continent", the second "Country", and the third "City"? The three text blocks are meant to be read as one continuous narrative in the order shown, however, the user must understand they are three unique text blocks. Several possible options are:

  1. Labels on top of each? While easy to read and strongly enunciates that they are three different blocks, it distracts from seeing the three as one continuous narrative.
  2. Labels on bottom of each?
  3. Horizontal labels on the left side of each? Easy to read, but uses excessive screen real estate.
  4. Horizontal labels on the right side of each?
  5. Rotated clockwise or counter clockwise vertical text or vertical non-rotated text on the left side of each? Uses less real estate but more difficult to read. Pros and cons of the three options are discussed in other existing question/answers such as Is clockwise or counter-clockwise rotated text easier to read?.
  6. Rotated clockwise or counter clockwise vertical text or vertical non-rotated text on the right side of each?
  7. Something else altogether?

If the labels were longer (i.e. instead of "Continent" it was "Description portion for the continent"), how would this change your answer?


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  • Why must they be viewed as unique text blocks? And why must they also be read as one continuous narrative? Is this going to be a pattern that is repeated for other cities? At this stage I'm thinking option 7, as in you might find a different solution altogether.
    – Brett East
    Commented Mar 28, 2016 at 16:23
  • @BrettEast General public will view the three sections as one continuous narrative. The author ideally also views as one continuous narrative so they see what the general public sees, however, must know that they are three unique sections, and changing each section has different affect. Yes, it is a pattern for other cities. As described by my other question ux.stackexchange.com/questions/91941/…, changing the "continent" for the San Francisco record will also change the Mexico City record. Recommendations for option 7? Thanks Commented Mar 28, 2016 at 17:21
  • What about removing the boxes around each section and placing the text labels at the top left of each section, with whitespace between the text blocks? Then consider using a single box around the entire set of three blocks. Commented Mar 28, 2016 at 19:34
  • @KarenDonoghue That might work! Thanks. I have a related text about editing the content at ux.stackexchange.com/questions/91941/…. What do you think of doing as you say, but also have either "edit" next to the label? If there is currently no text, maybe I use "add" instead of "edit"? Thanks! Commented Mar 28, 2016 at 20:28
  • Yes, I looked at your other question you mention here: ux.stackexchange.com/questions/91941/… and I would recommend placing "Edit" as a clickable link next to the text label if it exists. You could also place it flush right if that looks cleaner. "Add text" and "Edit text" if there is no text, would be a bit easier to understand. Commented Mar 28, 2016 at 21:32

3 Answers 3


I'd suggest option #5. Vertically rotated text isn't hard to read if it's just one word.

You might also want to consider the option to use three tabs. This would require only one third of the space used for the text, as only one block is visible at a time.

If the labels were longer (i.e. instead of "Continent" it was "Description portion for the continent")

Don't do this. The long label takes more screen estate and is unnecessary -- and hence annoying to the user.


Perhaps #7: Have icons or small images on the left of each block (aligned to the top of each block of text) that represent continent/world, country, city. You could tailor the icons to the specific continent country, and even city, but possibly three icons that just illustrate the level of "focus" is sufficient.

(I'm not sure of the etiquette of including/linking-to potentially copyrighted images -- it could be breach of copyright or seen as advertising -- so I won't, but a search engine will find many).


8: No labels. Our instinct is sometimes to label everything, even things that don't need them. The first paragraph is about a continent, the second is about a country, and the third is about a city. We don't need labels to tell us what we're reading.

(Type-in fields are more likely to need labels, of course.)

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