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Forget the Colon as a Separator

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Headline: Only use a colon as a separator when there is no other visible means of separation. Stated differently, “Stop using a colon between a label and a text box!

Back in DOS (Disc Operating System) when there was no graphical user interface we needed a way to let the user know what the computer’s territory was, and which was territory of the user. We might ask for inputs doing something like this:

Year:

The colon indicated “The text on the left of the colon is the computer’s, you can type on the right”. The visual separation was useful, particularly on large input screens where you would tab from field to field. But those days are LONG gone. We now have Microsoft’s ASP.NET MVC (Model-View-Controller) 2. So why then does is use colons by default? The default would be:

image

rather than:

image

Will the colon help the user know where they should type? Is the border around their text box not enough? (An in the situation I have the user can’t even type to the right of the colon…) I think it just adds clutter that prevents a clean look on the page. I find I must continually make edits to remove the artifacts – and the term artifacts is quite fitting.

Cheers… I’m off to delete a bunch of colons.

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