Form Labels: Better With Colons or Without?

Here’s a subject I haven’t given much thought about before. Usability News has a couple of interesting articles about whether not to include colons at the end of form labels.

The first looks at the issue purely from a usability perspective. The follow-up article looks at the question from an accessibility standpoint.

The author’s conclusion from the first article is that it doesn’t matter as long as you are consistent:

The fact is that in over 15 years of testing all sorts of forms … NEVER ONCE has any user commented on the presence or absence of colons. They don’t notice them. They don’t care. And so I have learned not to care either.

Her conclusion regarding the accessibility of colons in labels is the same; it doesn’t seem to matter. Here’s the response of an accessibility consultant she contacted about the JAWS screenreader:

I have watched people using a screen-reader on forms, but I do not recall whether the forms had colons on the screen or what the tags for the fields said.


I enjoy articles like these which thoroughly explore a very small web design-related topic.

Reminds me of the Man in Blue’s post (and discussion) about what separator to use in page titles and this one, The Sound of the Accessible Title Tag Separator.

There are also numerous articles about what separators to use in breadcrumb trails. The (almost) standard appears to be > by the way.

Question: Are there other good examples of really detailed explorations of a minute aspect of web design?