[thelist] RE: checked vs. unchecked boxes

Chris Kavanagh chris at logorocks.com
Wed Oct 20 13:22:17 CDT 2004

> There are times when checking a box by default makes sense.  Yes, my
> example could have been worded "Send me marketing e-mail" and to have
> it unchecked by default would have the same effect.  But is my example
> really an "abomination"?  Somehow I don't think so.  If it were, would
> that be found in the Book of Romans or Corinthians?

Maybe not an abomination, but something kinda close.  Jakob Nielsen 
wrote an Alertbox on this:


His guideline 7 is particularly relevant:

> 7.  	Use positive and active wording for checkbox labels, so that it's 
> clear what will happen if the user turns on the checkbox. In other 
> words, avoid negations such as "Don't send me more email," which would 
> mean that the user would have to check the box in order for something 
> not to happen.
> 	◦ 	 Write checkbox labels so that users know both what will happen if 
> they check a particular box, 		and what will happen if they leave it 
> unchecked.
> 	◦ 	 If you can't do this, it might be better to use two radio buttons 
> -- one for having the feature on, 		and one for having it off -- and 
> write clear labels for each of the two cases.

Not following this guideline is only one step from actively tricking 
the user ("Check here to not not receive some annoying spam").

Kind regards,

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