13:5 Label Data Entry Fields Clearly
Strength of Evidence:
Document Type: Guideline
Controls and Widgets
Display an associated label for each data entry field to help users understand what entries are desired.
Use descriptive labels that are distinct enough so that readers do not confuse them with the data entries themselves. Use common terms when labeling data entry fields (e.g., male, female). Use bold for labels, and asterisks to indicate required fields. If a field requires data to be entered in a certain format, indicate the format as part of the label (e.g., MM YYYY), or employ an on-screen help text near the field.
If the meaning of a proposed label is in doubt, conduct usability testing with an appropriate sample of qualified users.
Pew, R.W. & Rollins, A.M. (1975). Dialog Specification Procedures (Report 3129, revised). Cambridge, MA: Bolt Beranek and Newman.
Smith, S.L. & Mosier, J.N. (1986, August). Guidelines for designing user interface software. The MITRE Corporation Technical Report (ESD-TR-86-278).
Title: Web Application Form Design
Description: Illustrates the options for label placement in forms and the pros and cons of each.
Related Usability Guidelines: