I'm curious - is there a term for a character that is used to denote a highlighted option in text-based navigation?

For example, say we have this menu when navigating a text-only menu:


> Two


In the example, we can see that option "Two" is highlighted. But is there a name for the character that denotes the highlighted option?

Note: I do know that this particular character is called a "greater than" sign, but I'm after the name of the highlight character, regardless of whether it's an at symbol or an asterisk

Is there one, or am I right to use "highlight character" to refer to the character that prefixes "Two" in the list above?

4 Answers 4


I would call it a selector, since it is used to select an option in the menu.

Google defines selector as:

a person or thing that selects something, in particular.

Also, "highlight character" limits you to a single character. What if you wanted to change it from ">" to "->"? Then "highlight character" wouldn't be accurate since it's more than one character.


"Highlight character" doesn't make much sense to me.

Presumably, if you press Enter, that is the menu item that responds. By definition, that's a cursor.

In computing, a cursor is an indicator used to show the position on a computer monitor or other display device that will respond to input from a text input or pointing device.

  • A given screen or window may well have more than one cursor. The example uses a selection cursor. That same screen likely has both a text cursor and a mouse cursor in addition to the selection cursor. Dec 7, 2014 at 18:34

The name is the name of the particular character used (if a character is used). There is no general term that I am aware of. In some lists on a computer form, one or more options may be selected by default (e.g. by a background colour, by bolding, or by an adjacent symbol such as an asterix to indicate this to the user). Bolding or colouring are not characters but do service to 'highlight' that the item is 'selected'. More usually though the use of a background colour around text or symbols on a computer screen is called "highlighting".


In this context, I would call it an arrow, pointer or highlight symbol.

I should stress, however, that these are my own personal usages.

I suggest you try soliciting an industry-specific answer from one of the StackExchange computer-related Q&A sites, such as the User Experience site.

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