5 Rules for Choosing the Right Words on Button Labels

UX Movement
5 min readMay 21, 2019

What your buttons say is as important as how they look. Using the wrong words on your button labels cause users confusion, more work, and slower task times. If you want to make it easy for users to take action on your app, you need to choose the right words on your button labels.

Here are five rules to help you choose the right words to make your buttons actionable. Follow these five rules, and your users will have no trouble taking the right action on your app whenever they see a button.

Rule 1: Use Action Verbs

Your button labels should inspire users to act with action verbs. When users read an action verb, they know what the button will do. They can take action without reading any supporting text such as confirmation dialog.

Compare that with generic “yes/no” button labels often used on confirmation screens. Users have to read the dialog before they can take action. If they skip or misread the dialog, they’ll press the wrong button. Passive labels not only make it riskier to take action, but it forces users to do more work.

To illustrate, the example below blocks out the dialog so that only the buttons are visible. The button labels with action verbs allow users to take action, but the buttons that use “Yes/No” labels don’t. Action verb button labels are more task-efficient.

Rule 2: Use Precise Diction

Each action verb you use has a specific connotation. If your diction isn’t precise, users can misinterpret what the button will do.

For example, the words “delete” and “remove” are similar in meaning, but different in connotation. “Delete” implies that the button will erase the item from the system. “Remove” implies that the button will separate the item from a group. Using these words in the wrong context can cause users concern when they press the button.

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