Form fields in depth

What form fields can I use?

To provide the best possible user experience, make sure to use the element and element type that's most appropriate for the data the user is entering.

Help users fill in text

To provide users with a form field for inserting text, use the <input> element. It's the best choice for single words and short texts. For longer text, use the <textarea> element. This allows multiple lines of text, and makes it easier for the user to see the text they entered, as the element is scrollable and resizable.

Ensure users enter data in the correct format

Do you want to help users fill in a telephone number? Change the type attribute to type="tel" for the <input>. Users on mobile devices get an adapted on-screen keyboard, ensuring they can enter the telephone number faster and more easily.

For an email address, use type="email". Again, an adapted on-screen keyboard is shown. Use the required attribute to make the form field mandatory. When the form is submitted, the browser checks that the input has a value and that it's valid: in this case, that it's a well-formatted email address.

Learn more about the different input types. These also provide built-in validation features.

Help users fill in dates

When do you want to start your next trip? To help users fill in dates, use type="date". Some browsers show the format as a placeholder such as yyyy-mm-dd, demonstrating how to enter the date.

All modern browsers provide custom interfaces for selecting dates in the form of a date picker.

Help users select an option

To ensure users can select or unselect one possible option, use type="checkbox". Do you want to offer multiple options? Depending on your use case, there are various alternatives. First, let's look at possible solutions if users should only be able to choose a single option.

You can use multiple <input> elements with type="radio" and the same name value. Users see all options at once, but can only choose one.

Another option is to use the <select> element. Users can scroll through a list of available options and choose one.

For some use cases, such as choosing a range of numbers, <input> of type range may be a good option.

Do you need to offer the ability to select multiple options? Use a <select> element with the multiple attribute or multiple <input> elements of type checkbox.

You may also use an <input> in combination with the <datalist> element. This gives you a combination of a text field and a list of <option> elements.

Ensure users can fill in different types of data

There are more input types for specific use cases.

There is an <input> of type color to provide users with a color picker in supported browsers, and there are various other types as well. To ensure users can enter their password, use <input> with type="password". Every character entered is obscured by an asterisk ("*") or a dot ("•"), to ensure the password can't be read.

Do you want to include a unique security token in the form data? Use <input> with type="hidden". The value of an <input> of type hidden can't be seen or modified by users.

To enable users to upload and submit files, use <input> with type="file".

You can also define custom elements if you have a special use case, where no built-in element or type is suitable.

Help users fill out your form

There are many form elements and types, but which one should you choose?

For some use cases, it's straightforward to choose the appropriate element and type, such as <input type="date">. For others, it depends. For example, you can use multiple <input> elements with type="checkbox" or a <select> element. Learn more about choosing between listboxes and dropdown lists.

In general, make sure to test your form with real users to find the best form element and type.

Check your understanding

Test your knowledge of form fields

Is it possible to upload multiple files with a form control?

Yes, using <input type="files">.
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Yes, using <input type="file" multiple>.
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Yes, using <input type="multiple-files">.
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What's the difference between type="text" and type="password"?

There is no difference.
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An adapted on-screen keyboard for entering passwords is shown for type="password".
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When using type="password" every character entered is obscured by an asterisk (*) or a dot ().
A custom interface for entering passwords is shown for type="password".
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