Projects/Usability/HIG/Toggle Buttons


A toggle button is a button which stays down when clicked once and goes up when clicked a second time.

When to Use

Use a toggle button to indicate a state.

Example: A word processor should use toggle buttons to indicate the state of "Bold", "Italic" or "Underline" formatting.

When not to Use

Do not use a toggle button to indicate an action.

Example: A music player should not use a toggle button to implement a combined Play/Pause button. It should use a normal button and adjust the icon and label to represent the action which would be performed when clicked.

Icon and Label

There are two ways to label a toggle button:

1. Describe the state which is reached when the button is down:

In this case the icon and label should not change when the button is down.

For example a button to toggle the visibility of a sidebar could say "Show Sidebar". It should still say "Show Sidebar" when the button is down: it should not be changed to "Hide Sidebar".

If you want to change the button text to "Hide Sidebar" when the sidebar is shown then you should use a normal button, not a toggle button.

An alternative is to reduce the button to a noun if it is not ambiguous. In this example the button label could be reduced to "Sidebar".


2. Describe the current state:

In this case the label will often include a passive verb. For example a button to lock or unlock an element would say "Unlocked" when it is up and "Locked" when it is down. The icon should match the label.

This page was last edited on 4 August 2016, at 12:09. Content is available under Creative Commons License SA 4.0 unless otherwise noted.