[whatwg] Placeholder option for text input boxes

Russell Leggett russell.leggett at gmail.com
Fri Oct 3 07:06:11 PDT 2008

I've wrestled with this because its something that our designer has wanted
to use all over the place for an application I'm working on. It turns out to
be a usability nightmare if not used sparingly. When we used it, it was
definitely in place of an actual label, and I think this would be true in
most cases. In the cases where an outer label and a placeholder are needed,
I think the solution could just be to have two Label elements that point to
the same input.
>From the HTML 4.01

> More than one LABEL<http://www.w3.org/TR/html4/interact/forms.html#edef-LABEL> may
> be associated with the same control by creating multiple references via the
> for <http://www.w3.org/TR/html4/interact/forms.html#adef-for> attribute.

Then CSS could be used on one of the labels to make it appear as placeholder

On Thu, Oct 2, 2008 at 7:34 PM, Tab Atkins Jr. <jackalmage at gmail.com> wrote:

> On Thu, Oct 2, 2008 at 6:27 PM, Brenton Strine <Brenton.Strine at citrix.com>wrote:
>> On Tue, Sep 30, 2008 at 11:36 AM, Andy Lyttle <whatwg at phroggy.com> wrote:
>> [snip]
>> > 4) <label> (moving label textual content into <input> as placeholder
>> text; currently with Javascript to mutate the DOM, in the > future with CSS
>> to present the desired appearance while keeping the DOM stable)
>> >  Pro: Most semantic.
>> [snip]
>> That depends on what you are using it for. What if you are using it to
>> apply a placeholder that says "(optional)"? That is not a label at all.
>> There are a lot of uses for the proposed placeholder attribute that just
>> don't fit into any of the other categories. I think a placeholder attribute
>> would be great.
> Hmm, true.  That's definitely a case where the text can't be argued to be a
> label.
> Of course, it's still not in any way semantic.  The only difference between
> "(optional)" being displayed near the input and being displayed *within* the
> input is one of aesthetics.   The meaning of the document isn't changed one
> iota.  This leans me even more toward a CSS solution.  I'll just bite the
> bullet and bring it up to the CSS WG.
> ~TJ
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