This space intentionally left blank: Login is not a verb

As content on the web becomes more personalized, just about every website asks you to create an account and log in for a better experience. You probably click on “Log in” links and buttons several times a day without much regard for their presentation. That means you might not see anything wrong with this picture:

Compilation of website screenshots showing buttons and links with Login and Logout

But there is something wrong with that picture: login is not a verb. A link or button that says “login” is like a search field with a submit button labelled “Terms” — it’s not an action.

Log in and log out are the proper verbs to use in these scenarios. Just like you would say someone “logged in” instead of “logined” or offer to let someone “sign in” instead of “signin”, there should be a space to use the verb form.

Here’s a quick explanation of various uses:

Log in and log out are phrasal verbs.
These verbs should be used in links and buttons where the user is to take an action, such as navigating to a page for logging in or submitting a form. Similar verbs include “log on”, “sign in”, and “sign on”.
Examples:

  • I need to log in before I can log out, silly!
  • Logging in is such a chore; I wish my browser knew my identity.
  • I tried to log in to the system, but my login was invalid. (note the use of “log in to” instead of “log into”)
Login is a noun.
Login can refer to the credentials you use to obtain access to a system. This word is in some dictionaries, but not all.
Examples:

  • I tried all of the logins I could think of, but none of them worked!
  • Login problems? Reset your password below.
Logout is not a word.
Given log out as the correct verb and my inability to find it in a dictionary, it looks like logout isn’t a word at all. Let’s be on the safe side and always use log out.

Just remember: if you can replace log in with authenticate in a sentence, it’s a verb and should have a space. If authenticate doesn’t make sense as a replacement, it’s a noun.

So, if your website is asking users to “login”, please switch to using a verb instead. And if you know someone who could benefit from a quick lesson, please pass this on to them.

Compilation of website screenshots showing correct usage of log in