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Distinguish Required Data Entry Fields

Document Type: Standard


Content:

HHS must clearly and consistently distinguish required data entry fields from optional data entry fields. HHS must use ONE of the following approaches to distinguish required data entry fields:

  • Provide an asterisk in front of the label for required fields.  In addition, HHS must provide text stating: “A field with an asterisk (*) before it is a required field.”  This statement must precede the beginning of the data entry form.
  • Provide the word “(Required)” in front of the label for required fields. In addition, HHS must provide text stating: “All required fields have the word (Required) in front of a label.”  This statement must precede the beginning of the data entry form.
  • Separate fields into required and optional when practical.  These groupings must be clearly labeled “Required” and “Optional” and include the statement: “Fields are organized into required and optional groupings.”

Reason:

Users should be able to easily determine which data entry fields are required and which are optional.  Many sites are currently using an asterisk in front of the label for required fields. Some sites cluster required and optional fields to assist the user.


To comply with Section 508, it is not sufficient to use color or bold to emphasize required fields.  Colorblind users or those using screen readers will not get the information. 


Sources:

  • Bailey, 1996; Fowler, 1998; Morrell, et al., 2002; Tullis and Pons, 1997.