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Change the quill icon to a pencil icon for Compose a new message

Change the quill icon to a pencil icon for Compose a new message

This idea has been developed and deployed to Canvas

In the Messages section of Canvas, the way to compose a new message is to click on the icon of a quill. Some students don't even know what a quill is. And several of my students though the quill icon was a picture of a leaf.

A pencil is a standard icon on the web for "edit." Let's make the button easy to find by changing the quill to a pencil. (See attached files for examples.)

Comments from Instructure

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Community Member

Deactivated user  That's a quill? All this time, I thought it was a leaf, and I couldn't figure out why they put a leaf there. Now it makes sense. So, yes, I agree, it should be changed to a pencil.


If pencil is a standard icon for edit, then shouldn't you use something else for composing a new message lest people think you can edit it? You cannot edit an existing message -- yet. But if it gets to the place where you can edit and you have anticipated the need for a different icon, then you're ahead of the game.

Note: That "yet" isn't a prediction. My wife did a presentation on "growth mindset" and said we should start adding yet to the end of sentences.

Learner II

I like the idea of a different icon, but i don't know that I agree that a pencil is the best replacement due to the points‌ makes above.

Learner II

It definitely looks like a leaf. The stem should be longer if it's meant to look like a quill. Anyway, today's students would not relate to a quill. The standard icon for new message is pencil or pen on top of a square (paper). That makes a lot more sense than a leaf.

Community Member

I'll admit it! I've been calling it a leaf. :smileylaugh:

Community Member

It's definitely a quill!!! Smiley Wink

haha and I regularly have this amusing debate with our students... I can think of a possible reason for both icons... quill for writing (though old fashioned - definitely the more reasonable reason :smileygrin:) and the leaf for something 'new' (as it looks like a new baby leaf).  But agree with Erich it should definitely be a standard icon that people are used to seeing in the world of message composing.


We have had users asking how to compose a new message because they couldn't figure out what the leaf meant. It's a pretty poor design choice. There is a pretty universal compose icon out there. Here you go:

252594_Screen Shot 2017-09-21 at 3.24.05 PM.png

Community Member

I also definitely thought it was a leaf, which is what I have been telling my students.  I know what a quill looks like - and that "ain't" it.  The stem/shaft is far too short and the feather far too large.  I agree the icon should be changed.  

Community Member

What does it take to change the icon? A certain number of votes?

Community Member

I'm sure the same principle applies for all requests - 100+ votes to be put on the product radar.