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Undo (Reversible Actions)

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Reversible actions mean that users should be allowed to recover from errors. The reversible actions can be at different levels, such as a single action, a subtask or a complete task and in multiple steps. Reversible actions also encourage exploratory learning and prevent serious errors.

Guidelines summary:

  • Provide navigational options [2] 7:1
  • Use a clickable ‘List of Contents’ on long pages [2] 7:3
  • Use site maps [2] 7:10
  • Breadcrumb navigation [2] 7:12
  • Support communications to change inaccurate normal ranges. [4] NIST7865 VI-A p.26
  • Support updating information that is initially inaccurate or unknown (e.g., last names, sex, weight). [4] NIST7865 VII-B p.27
  • When dynamically presenting information (such as status information, error messages or warnings), display the information in context and facilitate action where necessary by clearly providing associated controls [3] CUI (Design Guidance - Drug Administration) p.21
  • User must be able to easily return to high-level information after viewing detailed information [3] CUI (Design Guidance - Displaying Adverse Drug Reaction Risks) p.7
Please note:The content provided here are intended as guidelines (recommended, but not mandatory) for design and implementation, not as standards (mandatory, minimum requirements). 


[1] Nielsen J. 113 design guidelines for homepage usability. 2001; Available

[2] U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services. The Research-Based Web Design & Usability Guidelines, Enlarged/Expanded edition. Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office, 2006. Available from:

[3] Microsoft. Microsoft Health Common User Interface design guidance. 2012; Available to download from: (Design Guidance - Find a Patient PDF).

[4] Lowry SZ, Quinn MT, Ramaiah M, Brick D, Patterson ES, Zhang J, et al. A human factors guide to enhance EHR usability of critical user interactions when supporting pediatric patient care. The National Institute of Standards and Technology; 2012.