Icon Button

Icon buttons are buttons without visible text labels by default.

Also known as:
Breadcrumb buttonButtonIcon

AnchorNeed to know

  • Default icon buttons perform actions using action icons without labels.
  • Use a Primary icon button when it's the most important action to take.
  • Use a Destructive icon button when the action will result in data loss, cannot be undone, or otherwise have significant consequences.
  • Breadcrumb icon buttons use link elements to navigate and must show a destination as text on hover/focus.


UI Kit


To keep in mind

A default icon button indicates to a user that they can perform an inline action on this page, such as:

  • Apply an action to an object, e.g. save, delete, add an item, undo, create a new item.
  • Trigger a new element to appear on the page e.g. toggle additional information, open a modal or reveal an overflow menu.

Other considerations:

  • Icon buttons use a button element (not a link element and no role="button").
  • All icon buttons have an aria-label to describe the action to people using assistive technologies, such as screen readers:
    • No more than 2 to 3 words long.
    • Use verbs first; use only verbs where possible e.g. “Save”.
    • Avoid unnecessary words and articles, such as “the” or “a”.
    • Use sentence case.
  • New icons used as icon buttons need to be user tested to test comprehension—can the user identify the action indicated by the icon?
  • Icons used in icon buttons are, by default, 20px in size (minimum) and can be scaled to larger sizes if it contextually makes sense.
  • Icon buttons have a minimum touch zone of 48px.
  • RTL: flip the direction of arrow icons when the user is using a right-to-left language.
  • Interaction states, such as disabled and working buttons:

Icon buttons with Tooltips

If there's any doubt about comprehension for an Icon Button with no text label, a Tooltip must be used on hover and focus of the Icon Button. Buttons natively receive keyboard focus so there's no need to add a tabindex attribute.

In a Tooltip used to describe the Icon Button's action (the "tool's tip"), use 1 noun or noun phrase to label the action that will occur by activating the button.

Breadcrumb icon button

A breadcrumb icon button is an exceptional case that uses a link element instead of a button because it navigates to another page.

Interaction guidelines

Disabled Icon Buttons use 30% opacity on the component itself (not, for example, the inner icon) as described in the Interaction states guidelines.

When to use and when not to use

When to use
  • Use an icon button when a user can perform an inline action on this page and there's no room for a default button. Icon buttons are often used when there are 2 or 3 adjacent icons buttons that perform actions on a single item presented in a row.
When not to use
  • To display icons that do not have actions associated with them, use the Icon component.
  • To show a Tooltip or Popover on focus and hover without any button action, use an Icon component instead.
  • Avoid using more than 1 icon button in a table row.
  • When there's enough space, use a button instead.

See also

External links

Here are some examples of existing design systems or references: