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Friendly Forms: Labels and Access Keys

April 21, 2002 by davidc

In this article I describe two under-used HTML features that can be used to improve the usability of your HTML forms.

All common desktop window managers support the labelling of input fields, so by clicking on say the label of a checkbox, the checkbox itself is selected. They also support keyboard shortcuts (access keys) to move around the form quickly.

Checkboxes and radio buttons are inherently small and thus a hard target to click on. Windows applications almost always allow you to click on label text to use the form element. Why should web pages be any different? I've gotten so used to putting labels on my form elements that I get frustrated when using websites that have not done so.