Hi all, my summary is pending, but I only got one message in response (thanks Matthew), but here goes what I got.

--Andrés Sulleiro


Hi all,

I would like to open up the discussion about indicating what fields are required on a web form. One common way of addressing this is by making the text field label bold and adding an asterisk, such as:

         *E-Mail Address: [_________]

Some sites add a message indicating that there are required fields in the form, such as:

         Bold Fields with Asterisk * are required

I'm looking for best practices for the indicator (i.e. the asterisk) as well as the explanatory legend (i.e. "bold fields with asterisk * are required"). Not so much interested in the actual look and feel of the indicator (color, symbol, etc), but the condition of use. What do you think are the best practices in the following situations:

- When a form has a mix of required and optional fields.
- When a form has a ton of required fields and one or two optional.
- When a multi-page system has all fields required except a couple on a page.
- When all the fields in a form are required.
- When all the fields in a form are optional.
- Simple forms like a log-in screen, search engine.
- Etc, etc.


I'll be happy to summarize and post the results.



Of course, it depends. :)

1) It depends on what the ratio of req/opt is.  But I tend to fall on the
side of show the requireds and make no mention of the optional.
2) Not the optional at the field level, with a required message at he page
3) Same as #2.
4) Page level notation only.
5) No notation at all.
6) These tend (generalizing here) to require all fields.  Login screen
usually only has ID and Password.  Both would be required.

Also, I have taken to using a capital R that is colored dark red with a
light yellow background (shows up well on gray and white page backgrounds)
to indicate required.  When we tested it, it was new to people but they got
it right away.  I felt that an asterisk (*) or chevron (>) was 1 step too
far away from relating a symbol to meaning.  So I used the "R" and got
comments like, "Ah... R as in Required."

Wouldn't say any of this is "best practice" but it has worked for me so far.

Feel free to edit as needed.

[Matthew Oliphant]