Would you consider checkboxes using crosses instead of the standard ticks OK to be used in UIs?

There are several CONs (being easily confused with close or delete crosses and wrongly implying there is a "no" and a "yes" option seem to be the most severe), yet sometimes designers opt for them.

The only reason to use those I can think of is "this is sometimes the way you do it on paper", which might be a reason to opt for crosses in a UI where you are trying to replicate the look of a paper form, as a visual gimmick.

  • 2
    It's in the name...
    – user68158
    Jan 17, 2019 at 11:42

8 Answers 8


I would't risk using check boxes with crosses. You've analyzed pretty well why.

It's best to stick with standard web components and avoid breaking consistency because for me this is one of the most valid usability heuristics!


Whenever I have seen crosses used, they never look like close or delete crosses - they are typically stylised crosses.

However, you rarely see crosses being used - it is almost always ticks being used these days, so don't deviate from convention by doing something different.

Also, keep it simple - every time you customise or deviate from convention you risk adding more development work for yourself, e.g. to ensure your solution will work across all browsers, which has the potential to make it more expensive to code and test.


Crosses for checkboxes are confusing. Instead to let the user see the action of check the field was completed, the "x" seems to indicate an error. I didn't see this before and I really hope this will not be a trend.


When I am filling form by pen then I certainly use crosses to fill checkboxes. And seeing checkmarks in checkboxes has always felt odd to me. So there certainly is cultural variation on checkmark vs cross vs somehing else issue.

I presume due to inconsistencies in cultural background, some UIs have went into "filled rectangle" path for checkboxes.


I would stick with the platform standard because that is what users of the platform will have come to expect, plus accessibility tools for various disabilities (blind users, keyboard-only users etc) are much more likely to work with the standard controls than with alternate controls somebody wrote from scratch. If I had to design a platform from scratch all by myself I would probably use a tick because on a display it's unambiguous.

Many paper forms ask for X because of people's handwriting. Imagine someone writes their mark so big that it accidentally protrudes into 2 or even 3 different boxes. Obviously it's better if they write small enough to fit in one box, but if the worst comes to the worst, if their mark is an overly-large X then we can ask which box contains the intersection of the X (the cross-point). But if their mark is an overly-large tick then do we look at which box contains the very bottom of the tick (the point at which it changes direction), or do we look at which box contains the top of the smaller of the two lines? (Cue arguments in hotly-contested elections.) So it makes sense to require an X, even in cultures where the default mark would be something else (tick in China, O in Japan, etc). But this is only because they are going to write it by hand and we are going to read their handwriting; none of this is relevant when the mark is displayed by a UI after a single click or tap, so we might as well use a mark that few people are likely to misread as "wrong" instead of "X marks the spot".


The tick means "yes I am" while the cross is more like "no" or "deleted" or "dead".
I would't fiddle with a convention that's so established.


In a nut shell "Please don't use cross instead of check mark, If it's a requirement ask for a rationale behind the same, communicate, debate and bring one to us checks"


A few thoughts on this:

Most checkboxes on paper forms are left blanc and it's up to the reader/user to fill it with something, may it be a cross, a check mark or just a fill.

Check boxes that indicate differences in product types for example use both check marks and crosses, one meaning present, one meaning absent.

Replicating a paper feel could be a good reason for not using native elements. But these new elements could use check marks as easily as crosses.

enter image description here Oh, and one more thing. There is one state everybody always forgets: the indeterminate state. Say you have a tree structure with elements that all have checkboxes. If siblings within the tree are both checked and unchecked, their parent is indeterminate.

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