Following a question on user experience stack exchange which discussed the ellipsis in the context of computer applications, I was asked whether there's any research indicating that users actually notice these dots.
In computer applications, especially desktop applications, the ellipsis is used in menus and buttons to tell the user that there is something in the user interface which is an extra step between pressing the button and completing the action. For example, you see
Save As... where you choose the format after hitting the button, or
Print... where you choose the printer after clicking the button.
I’ve found plenty of examples of use. I’ve also found lots of references that it should be used and what it means. But I’ve so far completely failed to find the requested evidence that users actually notice these dots, or any study of their understanding or how widespread is their acceptance.
Since this question was asked of me by someone who had clearly not particularly noticed them before, I’m wondering if there are any such studies, and if there are, whether they might indicate the percentage of users who notice them.
The alternative may be, as I suspect, that actually most people subconsciously process them as meaning there to be some subsequent or intermediate step, despite perhaps never being formally told of their use – but when asked about the dots will say: “Oh – I've never really noticed them” or “I’ve seen them but always wondered what they're for”.