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13:8 Allow Users to See Their Entered Data

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13:8 Allow Users to See Their Entered Data

Relative Importance:

Relative Importance rating of 3 out of 5

Strength of Evidence:

Strength of Evidence rating of 3 out of 5

Document Type: Guideline


Controls and Widgets


Create data entry fields that are large enough to show all of the entered data without scrolling.


Users should be able to see their entire entry at one time. There always will be some users who will enter more data than can be seen without scrolling; however, try to minimize the need to scroll or move the cursor to see all the data entered in a field. If there is a character limit for a particular field, state that near the entry field.

Designers should be particularly aware of the length of data entry fields used for entering search terms. One study found that this entry field should be at least 35-40 characters long to accommodate ninety-five percent of search terms being used.


  • Bailey, R.W. (1996). Human performance engineering: Designing high quality professional user interfaces for computer products, applications and systems (3rd ed.). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.
  • Bailey, R.W. and Wolfson, C. (2005), FirstGov usability test results, Computer Psychology Technical Report, May.
  • Czaja, S.J., & Sharit, J. (1997). The influence of age and experience on the performance of a data entry task. Human Factors and Ergonomics Society Annual Meeting Proceedings, 144-147.
  • Fowler, S. (1998). GUI Design Handbook. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Poor Example:

Data entry fields should be wide enough so that the user can see their entire entry without scrolling.


Good Example:

The text expands vertically so that a user can see even very long entries without having to scroll horizontally.