3.3.2 - Form labels and instructions

Provide labels to make it clear how users should fill in a form, and optionally provide extra hints to help them avoid errors.


Form elements (like a text input field or a checkbox) should have clear labels and instructions.



  • All labels in a form clearly and precisely describe the data required from users;
  • Radio buttons and checkboxes are correctly grouped and associated with a group label.

Required fields

  • Fields that are mandatory are clearly indicated (for example with the text "Required").
    • Alternatively, the labels of non-mandatory fields include the text “(Optional)” when most fields are mandatory.

Additional instructions

  • Additional instructions are provided for fields that require data to be entered in a specific format.
    • Instructions should be included in the label or displayed next to the field;
    • Instructions should be properly associated in code with the relevant form field.

Common mistakes

  • Data is expected in a specific format, but no instructions have been provided;
  • Instructions have been provided, but they are not associated with the relevant field.


This ensures that everyone understands any requirements for entering data, and that screen reader users are made aware of it.

  • Labels help all users to understand what a form control is and what is being asked for. And they are essential for users who cannot easily determine this by looking at the form and surrounding content.
  • Correctly grouped radio buttons and checkboxes help all users understand the relationships between those options. It also makes standard keyboard support for navigating radio buttons work out of the box (for Web).

Official wording in the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines

3.3.2 Labels or Instructions: Labels or instructions are provided when content requires user input. (Level A)

See the W3C's detailed explanation of this guideline with techniques and examples.

Guidance for Design

  • All form controls, such as text inputs, check boxes, select lists, or buttons, must each have a unique label that stays visible.
  • Don't use text placeholders as a replacement for the label of text inputs, or to give additional instructions. This is because:
    • Placeholder text disappears as soon as text is entered in the field. This makes it impossible for users to check whether they've entered text in the right way.
    • Placeholder text doesn't have enough contrast;
    • Placeholder text makes it hard at a glance to see that a text input field needs filling in;
    • On the Web, the placeholder attribute doesn't reliably provide input elements with an 'Accessible Name'.

More guidance for design

Guidance for Web

Associating a label with an input

<label for="uname">Username:</label>
<input type="text" id="uname" />

Failure example

<!-- Don't do this -->
  <input type="text" id="uname" />

Associating a hint with a text input field using aria-describedby

<label for="national-insurance-number">
  National Insurance number

<span id="national-insurance-number-hint">
  It’s on your National Insurance card, benefit letter, payslip or P60. For example, ‘QQ 12 34 56 C’.

<input id="national-insurance-number" name="national-insurance-number" type="text"
aria-describedby="national-insurance-number-hint national-insurance-number-error">

<span id="national-insurance-number-error">
  <span class="visually-hidden">Error:</span> Enter a National Insurance number in the correct format

Grouping radio buttons and checkboxes together in a fieldset with a legend

  • Ensure that input type="checkbox" and input type="radio" elements that are related are grouped in a labelled container such as fieldset with legend.
  • Ensure all radio buttons in a group have the same name attribute.


Correct use of name attribute ensures checking one radio button will uncheck the other:

  <legend>Would you like to receive email updates?</legend>
  <input name="rg1" type="radio" id="r1" value="yes"/>
  <label for="r1">Yes</label>
  <input name="rg1" type="radio" id="r2" value="no"/>
  <label for="r2">No</label>

Failure example

Incorrect use of the name attribute prevents correct keyboard access to radio buttons:

<!-- Don't do this -->
<input name="r1" type="radio" id="r1" value="yes"/>
<label for="r1">Yes</label>
<input name="r2" type="radio" id="r2" value="no"/>
<label for="r2">No</label>

If you're not using standard HTML checkboxes or radio button controls

Make sure that you closely follow the 'Radio Group' pattern in the ARIA Authoring Practices Guide, and test with one or more screen readers.

More guidance for Web