Viewing vs. Editing

In most cases, information should be presented by default for viewing, not editing. Presenting input controls to the user when they are not needed creates unnecessary clutter and distraction, interfering with effective presentation of the information.

When to Use

Only show editing controls when appropriate. Examples include:

  • When an item is selected, contextually-appropriate editing controls can be shown in a toolbar or panel.
  • If an explicit editing mode is appropriate, then editing controls should not be shown until that mode is activated.

How to Use


  • Don't use input controls to show information unless there is an explicit request to edit the information.
  • Follow the typography, alignment, and spacing guidelines to layout information in a way that is easy to understand.
  • Provide a clear visual hierarchy (where to look first, where to look next). The example above uses a large contact photo to anchor the layout and the contact name is set in large type to direct the users eye to next piece of information.
  • Provide a separate mode for editing the data when requested by the user (via a button, toolbutton or menu item):


  • Alternatively, in-line editing can be provided to edit a single data element at a time when it is clicked on or selected:

Line-in editing