The panel in question is supposed to have one label for each button.

1) The panel is missing labels for the “on” and “off” button.

I think the above sentence is incorrect because "labels" is plural and thus insinuates that each button has multiple labels.

2) The panel is missing the label for the “on” and “off” button.

I think this sentence is incorrect as well since "label" is singular and implies that there's only one label (which is missing).

Thanks, EE.
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Comments  (Page 2) 
Dear Davkett,

I do not think so. The «/off» then remains. The «on/off» is one symbol. It is therefore one label.

It is a fascinating question.

Kind regards,
Hey, men! Sorry to interrupt, but what do you think of my suggestions?
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1) The panel is missing labels for the “on” and “off” button.

It could mean "The panel is missing labels for both the 'on' button and the 'off' button." (They are two different buttons.)

Or it could be that the word 'label' means 'descriptive term' and each term is missing from a multi-function button. (I have a nine-point switch in my house; each point has a different function, and each function has its own 'label'. So I would think, if one or two of the functions had missing labels, it would be correct to say that the switch was missing 'labels'. Not knowing what kind of device the questionner's phrase is referring to makes directly answering the question guesswork.

The phrase does not say 'the "on/off' button'.
One last thing. (I keep thinking of more possibilities.)

One might think that if the 'on' and 'off' were two separate buttons, the phrase should have read: 'The panel is missing labels for the "on" and the "off" buttonS.'

That particular phrase could still be miscontrued as referring to more than one 'on' button and more than one 'off' button. (Of course, if the 'panel' is a 747 cockpit instrument panel...)

This keeps getting more interesting.
Hi Wistiti,
I'm a bit confused about your suggestion concerning the infant. Can the infant read? Would there not be any 'on' button, at all? How would the appliance that has only an 'off' button be turned on? Maybe, a coded burglar alarm? But that wouldn't be at an infant's eye level. Besides, the 'off' control would also be coded.
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You know, Davkett,
even if infants can't read, they recognize the symbols, and imagine what could happen if they turn the oven or the microwave "on" when the cat's in it?
What is the symbol for 'on'?
If they jut can see O-N, That's a symbol for them!
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I'm sorry, wistiti, infants cannot read symbols. That is a brain function that develops later. Even if you replace the word 'symbol' with the more appropriate 'sign', (because letters and words are not 'symbols'), infants cannot recognize their meanings.

Try out the question as a new post, and see what you get. It could be entertaining.
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