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Action icons

Action icons are little images that can be used where space is tight. It is important that the icon be recognisable or it will cause the user to be cautious about clicking on it.

For the case that a user doesn't know what the icon means, there must be a tooltip explaining the action. Firefox doesn't show the alt attribute as a tooltip and Internet explorer only shows the link title attribute on text. Therefore you must have both a title attribute on the <a> and an alt attribute on the <img>.

If none of these fit your need, look around for established conventions. For instance, almost all applications now use the cross to show a delete action and not the trashcan.