How to mark required fields in forms

Photo by JESHOOTS.COM on Unsplash
  1. Mark the optional fields, because these are fewer.
  • People read the instructions, but they forget them. Users forget the instructions because they have to fill in the form, and if it is too long or they get interrupted during the process, they will forget them more easily. Filling out the form is hard enough, so why would you add another extra difficulty?
  • People have to scan the form to determine whether the field is required. Even if you give instructions the results will be the same, users will ignore the instructions or forget them. Users will scan all the information and deduce whether the field is required or not.

How to mark the required fields?

There are two options: with asterisks or with “required”. The asterisk has become a convention and everyone knows what it means. It needs little space, so it is a good option to use.

Do you have to mark the optional fields?

Although it is not mandatory, marking the optional fields eases cognitive load on users. If a field does not have a description, the user will have to guess that the field is optional from the rest of the fields marked as mandatory.

What should be done with login forms?

Login forms usually have two mandatory fields, username and password. In this case you have two options, either you mark the fields with an asterisk, or you assume that users already know that in a login form they have to enter all fields. You can skip the asterisk if you want, because users already know what they have to do.

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Torresburriel Estudio

Torresburriel Estudio

User Experience & User Research agency focused on services and digital products. Proud member of @UXalliance