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Mandatory Fields

When dealing with data input in dialogs or forms, users need to be aware if a field is mandatory and cannot be left blank.

Context

In many forms or dialogs some fields may require data entry whereas others may be left blank.

Forces

A number of forces must be considered:

Solution

If mandatory fields make up the majority of fields, highlight optional fields as shown in the example screenshot.

If optional fields make up the majority of fields, highlight only mandatory fields using the asterisk (*) placed after the field’s label. This has become a common and well-established way to highlight required fields.

Usability Impact

Error prevention, error recovery

Safety Impact

Forms required keyboard input, which is not as efficient on touch screens as on hardware keyboards. Therefore, the amount of text input should be reduced, if possible.

Keeping the number of text fields and reducing visual clutter to a minimum is paramount when using forms in safety-critical user interfaces. Because form entry most likely is not safety-relevant, it must not interfere with safety-critical functionality.

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