KDE Visual Design Group/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.

Toggle-button-formatting.png (Toggle buttons used in a rich text editor)

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:

First possibility: 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". Think of the button as a check box: when you click a check box you do not expect its label to change.

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.

It is worth noting the label of a toggle button does not need to contain a verb, as long as there is no ambiguity. In this example the label can be reduced to "Sidebar".


Second possibility: 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 also change to match the label.


This page was last edited on 5 February 2019, at 19:46. Content is available under Creative Commons License SA 4.0 unless otherwise noted.