Eastern Michigan University

Best Practices & Gotchas

Good form design requires several factors including the length of the form, the time that it takes to complete, and the data that is being collected. Visit the Nielson Group Usability site for more information.

Best Practices

  • Keep it short - Omit fields that can be derived from existing data or aren’t completely necessary.
  • Single column layout - Multiple columns disrupt the momentum of moving down the form.
  • Group like information - Group like data together in sections and label them for easy identification.
  • Language - Form labels should be clear and match submitter's language, avoiding jargon and acronyms.
  • Instruction  - Don't make the submitter guess the format or requirements of the form or fields.
  • Progressive disclosure (show/hide) - Present form contents based on previously provided answers.
  • Relevant naming - Apply unique item names and alternate text relative to the purpose or function.
  • Hyperlinks - Underline hyperlinks and open any non-EMU links in a new window using the "Target" tab.


  • Contact Information - Include contact information at the bottom of your form and in any notifications.
  • Tables - For the purposes of alignment and rule definition, build your form using tables.
  • Field label - Avoid using the field label, due to misalignment; instead create a text field for this purpose.
  • File attachments - One (1) file attachment per field and a maximum size of twenty-five (25) MB per file.
  • SSO URL vs External URL - A prefix URL must be added to your form URL to enable SSO.
  • Editing forms - Once a form is "live" it can't be edited; rather a copy must be created and edited.
  • Enterprise level Access - Your access level is the same across all Organizations.
  • Rules -  Individual rules can contain the operator AND or OR, but not AND and OR.

Visit the FAQ page for more information.