I was recently request to change all our action button labels from 'Add' to 'Select', simply because the action happens after clicking “Done” on the screen footer.

So, I was wondering… while “Select” is very clear, how should we label the button after selection was made?

I have 3 options:

Negate the label, so the label still calling for action:

  1. Select/Unselect or,
  2. Select/Deselect

Change the label to indicate the selected items:

  1. Select/Selected

While between option 1 and 2, 2 is clearly the better one (according dictionary, Ngram viewer comparing the usage, or Google trends), what is the better option between 2 &3?

Use label for call to action (I find ‘Deselect’ awkward), or use the check-box Equivalence, which is ‘Selected’?

  • Could you elaborate on the context a bit? What does the button actually do? What does the Done button has to do with it? Could you describe the interaction flow?
    – Izhaki
    Jul 1, 2016 at 11:28
  • I'd argue against "select" being clear, as I have no idea what that does. What happens to something if it's selected? what happens if it's not? Are all these selections relative to the properties of a single object? or are we selecting items in a cart of sorts?
    – invot
    Feb 1, 2018 at 21:52

3 Answers 3


(Select/Deselect) is the well established standard. You'll see it both in many interfaces and the Microsoft Manual of Style, which is the style guide used by technical writers in many companies, and many interfaces.


"Remove" and "Clear" are generally discouraged. "Unselect" has undo history connotations that you may not intend, and I've never seen it used.

That said, you may want to talk to the people who are documenting your product. It's rather tortuous and redundant-sounding to write well when the button labels break sentences:

"Select an option, then click Select..." groan

When you consider the whole product UX -- the people who have to describe it in support calls, the documentation people read, etc. -- you may want to come up with some different verbiage like:

Add to Bucket/Empty Bucket

"Select an option, then click Add to Bucket..."


Without some more information on the design around the select button, it's hard to say. I assume you have a set of items from which your users can select a few. But is it in list form (i.e., rows of items) or in a grid (with cards for items)?

I think in general one has to separate the two functions you mention: Some design aspect indicates the selection status, and some other design aspect allows to toggle it.

E.g., in a table, there is usually a selection control in the first column (with some select-all function in the header). This serves the toggle function. The indication function is served by the presence or absence of the checkmark, and background color on the entire row.

Your question sounds like your concerned only with how to toggle status, and if that's true, I would go for (2), because the indication function of (3) is probably cared for elsewhere already. If not, this combination of toogle and indicator is why you can't decide. Maybe the design decision should then be to separate the two functions into different aspects of the design, so your button can be labelled as (2) for toggling, and status is indicated differently (e.g., as a checkmark on the top right of cards in a grid).

  • First, thanks for the quick an detailed response. Usually its a list, with multi selection. We do not use Check-box on the left side, rather a right button replicated on each item (I assume we will have to switch to check-box model when things get cluttered). my main concern was the Mini-copy. Deselect just sounds bad. But that is correct that the visual design does not include any visual cue for items selected (highlight, V shape or such), due strict style-guide. combining V into the button is something we have, so it will be used in case I will go for Option 3.
    – Iris Green
    Jun 1, 2016 at 7:56
  • You say that the style guide does not include a visual cue for items selected, so could these items be separated into different bins? Could unselected items be styled instead of the selected ones? Is there any way to create a visual distinction?
    – invot
    Feb 1, 2018 at 21:57

If its a list of items then SELECT would fit the case. Use CLEAR or REMOVE would make more sense than DESELECT. Now it would still depend how you layout or design the interactivity. A simple arrow icons would also do if the idea is to move items between columns.

  • 1
    Welcome to the site, @jonT. Do you have any evidence (either your own studies or other research you've read) to support this wording? At the moment, your post just reads as opinion. Jul 31, 2016 at 19:57
  • Your welcome to down vote or remove my post. Subjective or objective is always challenged on design even when its driven by numbers. One design may fit your need but not for others. Hence we have iteration that would solve our use cases.
    – jonT
    Jul 31, 2016 at 21:08

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