What’s a hint?

A hint is a helpful little companion to a form field. They give you handy clues and directions about what’s needed.

Example of hints on Poppin's new customer registration form

Poppin’s customer registration form, for example, explains what the password hint is for. It’s also clear that you don’t need a partner code.

Hints on WordPress new account form

Here’s another example: When you’re signing up for a WordPress blog, it’s useful to know that you can change your website address later.

 

Good hints are valuable

Be sure to consider how you can write the best, most useful hints for your users.

Let’s say your form requires an Account Number. You could write a hint to provide some information about the expected format, like “123-4567-89” — but that can be done through input validation.

Instead, why not use this space to help people find their Account Number?

Account Number with a hint

 

Adding hints is easy with FormAssembly

Go to the Contextual Help menu in the Form Builder!

 
Try it yourself!

Or, see our example form for hints in action. You can also get the template.

 

4 ways to display hints

You can add hints below, on the side, in a pop-up, or as placeholder text. Each location has different benefits, so you should think about what you need and how your respondents are going to see the form. It’s all about their experience, so you want the hints to be as helpful as possible!

 

Here’s a handy pros and cons list:

1. Hint below

Hint: Below

  • Visible even when you’re not typing in the field.
  • Good if this hint should stand out with just a quick glance at the page. Otherwise, it can add clutter.
  • Works better with less space (e.g. narrow form, sidebar form).

 

2. Hint to the side

Hint: Side

  • Just like the “below” hint, it’s visible even when you’re not typing in the field.
  • Also good if this hint should stand out with just a quick glance at the page. Otherwise, it can add clutter.
  • Best if you’ve got empty space on the side, in a full-page form.

 

3. Hint as a pop-up

Hint: Pop-up

  • Hidden until the field is selected, so it’s clutter-free.
  • Make sure it’s something unique to the field, like an expected input format: mm/dd/yyyy

 

4. Hint as placeholder text

Hint: Placeholder

  • Most space efficient — nothin’ extra needed.
  • Disappears as soon as the text is typed, which can be confusing if the respondent didn’t play close attention. (If the field requires a very specific format, consider a Custom Format instead.)

 

Learn more from our Getting Started series and Tips! Or let us know if there’s anything you’d like to see us cover. ↓

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