Just like the title says. I have a work label marked with a exclamation point in front of it so that it's always at the top of my label list. The list looks something like this:

  • !Work
  • Alice
  • Mark
  • Zach

However, if I have the !Work label and a name tagged to a same message, !Work always displays last. So in my inbox I'll have a series of messages that are labeled like this:

  • Alice, !Work
  • Mark, Zach, !Work
  • Alice, Zach, !Work

And so on. This is only in my inbox. If I click on the individual emails, the labels are ordered properly (i.e.: !Work, Alice, Zach). Does anyone know how to fix this issue? It only started doing this recently and I haven't changed how I apply labels to messages so I have no idea what caused it.

  • Can you please clarify what you mean by 'label list'? Are you referring to the left panel, or maybe the (horizontal) list of labels associated with each specific email?
    – Max
    Commented Nov 12, 2013 at 19:22
  • 1
    The order seams to be the order in which you applied the labels. The label you applied first at the start and the label you applied last in the end. Don't know what to do about it, though. Commented Mar 9, 2014 at 11:29
  • The "bang" or "!" can also mean "not" as in two folders: "work" and "not work". For brevity, and to save on using odd characters, "not work" being "!work" because the correct symbol is not so easy to find (at least on my keyboard). On a tangent, there's probably some way of finding the "not" symbol. Some use the tilda... Commented Jul 1, 2022 at 6:15

2 Answers 2


Use another special character like underscore '_'.

Exclamation point can be interpreted as code and may behave differently depending on the context the labels are displayed.

Underscore seems to work fine in this case, '_Work' appears first in the list of folders (left hand side column) and the first in individual email label(horizontal list at the top).

  • I would hope that Google would escape the bang. Commented Jul 1, 2022 at 6:13

By default, Gmail will place at the top of the list any labels that is bold, which means it contains unread emails in it. Labels that aren't bold sink at the bottom, and might even be hidden and only appear when you hover the bottom of the list and click on 'More'.

If you wish that one label you have appear regardless of whether it contains any unread messages in it, you should go to 'Manage labels' (same as Settings > Labels) and check the value for your !Work label for both columns 'Show in labels list' and 'Show in message list'. It should be 'Show', as opposed to 'Show if unread'. This will force it to appear in the list even though Gmail assumes you wouldn't need it since it doesn't have anything new/unread in it (and you can still go to the bottom of the list to see it).

The option 'Show if unread' is somewhat new, I remember it not being there a few years ago, and when the switch occurred Gmail must have defaulted all labels to 'Show if unread'. I did find a blog post that talks about the feature in 2011, so not so new. Also, this video might provide some clues as to how to best use that feature.

  • I think you've misread the question. The OP is asking about the order of labels as they appear in the conversation list.
    – ale
    Commented Nov 12, 2013 at 17:09
  • Are you saying 'label list' doesn't refer to the left panel?
    – Max
    Commented Nov 12, 2013 at 18:52
  • 1
    That's how I'm reading the question, but we probably need the OP here to clarify.
    – ale
    Commented Nov 12, 2013 at 18:54
  • Your information is incorrect.
    – user105815
    Commented Jan 11, 2016 at 6:43

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