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December 8, 2003 03:28 AM

Broken: Reset button on any lengthy form

Dan Cummins writes:

After filling out a lengthy online form [like the one shown here], almost everyone will want to click the Go button to submit the form.

But why is the Reset button placed so close to the Go button? Who would intentionally click the Reset button after filling out a lengthy online form? Plus, many will accidentally click the Reset button, leading to some frustrated visitors!

The message is clear - move or remove the unnecessary Reset buttons.

(I found this on, in Advanced Search.)


This looks like it's got another feature(?) that I gripe about. Type size that can't be enlarged. My over-40 eyes just can't focus like they used to!

Posted by: Rick at December 8, 2003 01:08 PM

As a developer of this kind of stuff, I understand the need to have the feature. I agree not to put it there, but where shall I put it? At the top of the form, it will be missed completely. Removing it, and allowing someone to refresh or use the back button instead can be problematic for some web apps. I usually make the button say something like "Start Over", and then provide a dialog box that warns someone I'm going to erase everything. No one reads those, though do they? Any opinion would be appreciated.

Posted by: Scott Palmer at December 8, 2003 06:11 PM

Scott: One trick is to use the Content-Expires HTTP header to control the freshness of form content. We've all had the experience of hitting the Back button to return to a previous page only to find out it's "Expired" and the browser refuses to display any content.

Secondly, if you need to create a stateful chain of pages (like a multi-page, user-data-driven form), create your OWN forward and back buttons on the page and place them adjacent. Both buttons save the status of the current form, but allow you to navigate in either direction. That way, if you go the wrong way, nothing is lost.

Finally, I disagree with the need for the "Start Over" button. Users seem to understand that if they abandon a form the data goes away (i.e., closing the browser window or typing a new URL into the address bar). I have never seen a need for the Reset Form button.

Posted by: Robby Slaughter at December 9, 2003 12:57 PM

I am a web developer and I agree with Robby, I think generally reset buttons are not necessary. That is all, thank you. :-)

Posted by: Rob at December 16, 2003 08:35 AM

This is going to sound extremly immature, but does anyone else think Dan's name is funny?

Posted by: never mind that at December 21, 2003 01:56 PM

As a developer, I say, yeah, reset buttons are hardly ever needed.

This is slightly better than having two buttons, one reset, one submit, about the same size and shape right next to each other.

In general, less than clever developers include the button because it's very easy to do with a basic form. But it should only be used in situations where you can edit existing data that's just been loaded from like a database, not when you're entering data from scratch.

Posted by: Kirk at January 7, 2004 04:02 PM

The "GO" and "Reset Form" are two separate links, moron. Hitting "GO" will perform your search, hitting "Reset Form" will reset the form.

Posted by: Chris S. at February 20, 2004 04:40 PM

I use this user style sheet rule to hide reset buttons:

input[type="reset"], button[type="reset"] { display:none }

(See for more rules and how to create a user style sheet.)

Posted by: Jesse Ruderman at March 22, 2004 12:33 AM

I think generally reset buttons are not necessary. That is all, thank you. :-)

Posted by: justus at May 12, 2004 04:48 PM

Haha-I get it. Cummins. That is funny. Oh yeah...reset buttons are useless. No one uses them.

Posted by: Dave at May 13, 2004 09:26 PM

Haha-I get it. Cummins. That is funny. Oh yeah...reset buttons are useless. No one uses them.

Posted by: real madrid at May 27, 2004 03:30 PM

It's amazing how little this practice is realized.

Posted by: Body Piercing at July 2, 2004 05:33 PM

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