Against colons

This is not an tirade against the anatomical accessories we possess that aid us in digestion.  I have nothing against these organs presently.

RATHER this article is a tirade against the use of the English language symbol “:”, specifically between a user interface label and a field to which the label is attached.  For example:

Name: [_______________]

People.  If you have an obvious label next to your user interface field there is no need for the colon.  It is completely superfluous.  Colons mean: “ending the old, beginning the new”.  But when you look at a user interface like this, do you think, “god, I am so thankful that the designer put a COLON there, lest I confuse the text box/radio button/check box with the label!”?  No, of course you don’t.

Now, if you have two labels next to each other, or a label next to a paragraph, and the text decorations such as font-size, color, emphasis, etc. do not make it very plain that the label and the text to which it refers are in fact separate user interface elements, it would be appropriate to include a colon.  For example:

Name: None of your business

I am not a professional designer, nor do I claim any special experience in the dark arts of the crayola.  But what I do have is an eye for efficiency.  And reading damn colons next to form fields interrupts my serene form-filling experience, so stop using them and I will stop hating.  That is all.

3 thoughts on “Against colons

  1. Ryan says:

    I never thought about this particular issue, but I do believe you’re right. If Dr Pepper can get by without the period in Dr, we programmers and designers can get by without form field colons. I will strive to change my ways.

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