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On a web form should field labels be nouns or verbs? This issue arose from two fields on an account request form that currently read:

  • Temporary Password
  • Re-Enter Temporary Password

There is debate as to whether a verb should ever sneak in. From general observation I believe nouns are more frequently used - especially for sign-up forms - but I do know that breaking a pattern can draw attention to the item.

So, nouns or verbs (or both)? Links to studies would be greatly appreciated.

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If you accept some of your previous answers you will encourage people to post answers here. – JohnGB Oct 4 '11 at 12:57
Thanks for the suggestion, JohnGB. I am aware of the concept of acceptance, but I find that multiple responses tend to contain important information. Now if you gave me the option to accept multiple answers... :) – gef05 Oct 4 '11 at 13:01
Multiple options are available for dinner every night, each with their own benefits, but you still gotta choose one. Just sayin... :) – Matt Rockwell Oct 4 '11 at 13:10
Yeah - I've not thought about it before. You are both right - I'm denying points which isn't fair. I'll reform, I promise. – gef05 Oct 4 '11 at 13:24
Another option is to post and accept a new answer summarizing the best points from the answers you found useful. – Patrick McElhaney Oct 4 '11 at 18:20

Always break the rules when it makes sense.

Clarity is an important enough reason to break every other UX rule.

Your labels are clear, even if they don't follow the standard convention of a noun for a label and a verb for a call to action. If you were to try use a noun for the label it would be "Re-entered temporary password", or "temporary password again" - neither of which is a better solution.

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Agreed. I think so long as there is a clear argument/justification then it makes the decision easier. Thanks. – gef05 Oct 4 '11 at 13:21
@GaryFranceschini: It's more about it being the best option. You can justify almost anything, so don't use that as the criterion. – JohnGB Oct 4 '11 at 13:28
There's a lot to be said about determining "the best option", but I take your point. – gef05 Oct 4 '11 at 13:34

Prompts are very different from placeholders. For prompts, being clear and concise wins every time. This is totally okay:

Username --Field--

Password --Field--

Confirm Password --Field--

However, placeholders are often better in practice (think iPhone text fields). If you're using a placeholder, make the placeholder the same type as what the user will actually fill in.

If it's an address field, use "333 Main Street".

If it's a user name use "John Doe", etc.

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I'd do:

Temporary password:  __________________________
         and again:  __________________________
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Assaf, I think natural language - such as your example - has it's place, but I was more concerned with the concept of noun vs. verb as other posters have addressed. – gef05 Oct 5 '11 at 11:29

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