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What do you call the V-shaped figure one uses to check a checkbox? How about the X-shaped figure?

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You might be looking for "check" or "tick", or "check mark" or "tick mark".

  • That works perfectly well if the only options are "Checked = Yes" and "No mark = everything else". But I can see massive problems for OCR reading of forms where the person filling it in has to put a NOT check mark symbol in those boxes where he needs to explicitly indicate No (as opposed to no mark at all means "I decline to answer/not relevant"). – FumbleFingers Feb 17 '14 at 18:16
  • I've been a UI developer for 5 years and I've never heard of the not check mark. Interesting. – Kevin Workman Feb 17 '14 at 18:39
  • @Keven: I was working in software development back in the 70s, when initially we had teams of "punch girls" transcribing ticks and crosses (or Y's and N's) from completed forms onto computer cards or "punch tape". I remember that fairly soon after I started, they introduced automated character recognition equipment. I wasn't directly involved in what happened next and why, but in retrospect it seems likely they changed things so the options were just "tick or don't tick" thereafter. – FumbleFingers Feb 17 '14 at 18:45
  • I always think it's funny how some people think of the x and the ✔ as being different. Sure they look different but meaning wise they're about as different as j and J. ✔ is really a sloppy x. That may seem very odd depending on how you write your x's. Some people form an x with an alpha or α stroke. Others a backwards alpha. The ✔ is formed by still others who make their x's by starting from the upper left, slanting down right, moving left, slanting up right. If they fail to lift on the move left they get an upside down ribbon. If they fail to even move left they get a ✔ mark. – candied_orange Apr 10 '16 at 16:31
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Do you mean a check mark (also called a tick)? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Check_mark The x-shaped mark can be called simply an x or a cross.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/X_mark

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In the UK we were usually told to put a tick or a cross in the appropriate box...

enter image description here

...but if you follow the link and switch between British and American corpuses, you'll see that the "relative prevalence" (number of instances per 100M words) for BrE is about 8 times higher than that for AmE.


Just a guess, but I wonder if maybe the (historically) higher proportion of immigrants less familiar with English (for reading the instructions on filling out the form) might mean that US forms were always more likely to expect just a single mark (tick or cross) to mean "this is the one that applies".

Some years ago a friend who helped out counting the ballot papers after a General Election told me she was amazed at how many were classed as "spoiled" because the voter had put a tick against their preferred candidate, and a cross against each of the others. The intended vote was obvious, but they weren't allowed to count it. We both thought this probably caused disproportionate (hopefully, unintended) disenfranchisement of recent immigrants who might not understand the instructions.

  • relative prevalence of ... what? 'tick'? 'check'? 'cross'? 'tick or cross'? In the US, 'check mark' is more common than 'tick mark'. Also unclear... how do you (in the UK) fill out a form with multiple (mutually exclusive) boxes? One 'V' mark and many crosses? or just one 'V' mark? In the US you just use one 'V' mark. – Mitch Feb 17 '14 at 14:40
  • Like I said, in NGrams the relative prevalence" column on the left of the graph indicates number of instances of that word/term per 100M indexed words. I don't know exactly what the "reference point" means with multi-word terms - probably it still means as a fraction of the total number of individual words indexed in Google Books, but I suppose it could be relative to all five-word sequences. But that doesn't matter - the point is the values for the BrE corpus are about 8 times higher than those for the AmE corpus (count the number of leading zeros). – FumbleFingers Feb 17 '14 at 15:09
  • @Mitch: I have the impression that in the UK we don't often have boxes that need either a tick or a cross these days. Probably because the OCR readers can't reliably distinguish them. Often now you're instructed to either put a diagonal line from bottom left to top right, or leave the box blank. – FumbleFingers Feb 17 '14 at 15:23
  • Re: relative - I understand -how- you're comparing, I just don't know -what- you're comparing. If it is actually 'a tick or a cross', then maybe that then is my misunderstanding because you just would never use 'tick' in US, or the two things together both (whatever tick is) and 'cross'. So you say 'tick or a cross"? And you're expected to fill out every box? And 'x' means 'no'? – Mitch Feb 17 '14 at 16:59
  • @Mitch: Perhaps precisely because you don't normally have such forms in the US, the idea of being asked to fill in every box with one of two symbols representing Yes/No isn't familiar. But if you're asked to "positively select" some boxes by putting a check mark in it, that would create problems in describing what mark to put in for the opposite ("No, I don't want this box to be checked, but I have to mark it somehow to show I've definitely seen and rejected it."). – FumbleFingers Feb 17 '14 at 18:09

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