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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

For more information, please read through the .

Community Member

Now the leaf makes sense.  I looked for ages to try to find how to compose a message.  First I didn't recognise the Inbox as a mail icon, then I only found the compose message by mousing over the 'leaf'.  I agree - the icons need to be much more universal. 

Obviously as I become a more frequent user I'll recognise them all, but for starters they are not intuitive.


The darn thing looks like a leaf. I had to stare at the screen for a few minutes to rule OUT all other icon possibilities that could mean "write new message".

PLEASE change that icon.

Thank you for opening this topic.

Community Member

I too have been calling it a leaf

Community Member

Well for the most part the pencil is a standard icon for composing I think it's important to keep the quill so that we can use it as a teaching tool to expand our students knowledge and vocabulary base so they can learn to recognize multiple icons for composing emails and other forms of written material. If your students didn't know what a quill was then all the more reason to keep it. 

I was able to figure out it was a quill  ( even though it reallybecause does also look like a leaf) even though the icon itself is not a pencil it's still being held in the same direction as the pencil icon. 

I also like it because it changes things up a bit instead of staying to such a familiar and now boring icon. I think it brings a nice fresh look.


Twitter is currently using a Quill icon, clean up your leaf and make it look like a quill and you'll be fine.

Community Member

I agree with you for the most part Lisianna.  I'm not opposed to it being a quill - as you say, changing things up sometimes is good - and expands our knowledge.  The problem though, is the current icon doesn't really look like a quill.

If it is indeed meant to be a quill and was to look like that, it could be great!  A quill icon with some lines behind it, or a page underneath like the pencil tool... they would be good options.  Just not a leaf, and as with my post above - the quill/leaf is also used as the Change Image icon in the Course details Settings page, so there isn't consistency.

Community Member

In any case, a 'real' quill would not have feathers - see this Wikipedia entry: "On a true quill the barbs are always stripped off completely on the trailing edge.... Later a fashion developed for stripping partially and leaving a decorative top of a few barbs. The fancy, fully plumed quill is mostly a Hollywood invention and has little basis in reality. Most, if not all, manuscript illustrations of scribes show a quill devoid of decorative barbs, or at least mostly stripped" (Quill - Wikipedia).  So yes, the icon IS a leaf 😉


I thought it was a leaf, too; I figured a leaf was being used to symbolize new life, as in a new message. I'd much prefer a pencil icon, and you're right--students would recognize the pencil icon more readily than a quill (no matter what the design of the quill).

Community Member

I was surprised to note that the icon was a quill!  I thought it was a leaf too.  And I am in my sixties!  The icon does not really look like a quill.

Community Member

Well, if you change the icon to anything else, I have to go back and change all of my tutorials (online, on paper, and video). Not interested in extra work.

Thank you.