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For Example:

Results must match () All  () Any  () None  Of the search criteria

vs

Results must match () All  of the search criteria
                   () Any
                   () None  

The logic behind having them inline is that it is attempting to be readable as sentence. But does the clutter negate that?

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A vertical list is easier to scan and more in the spirit of how forms are actually used. Try to keep each item self-contained (and even unique if possible): () ANY search term, () ALL search criteria. [In this example, choice three doesn't actually make sense to begin with.] –  tajmo Mar 3 '12 at 0:13
    
none does make sense, they want to find all the rows who's first name isn't bob and last name isn't bobbins. but if you mean as a sentence, it doesn't read well, i agree. –  Patricia Mar 5 '12 at 14:34
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Ah, I understand now. You mean as an exclusion. In that case, the term match should not be in the phrase. It would better be like this … Results: () match any search term, () match all search criteria, () exclude each term. –  tajmo Mar 5 '12 at 16:47
    
i like that set up! thanks :) –  Patricia Mar 5 '12 at 16:52
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4 Answers 4

up vote 14 down vote accepted

There are a few problems with 'sentence' radio selections:

  1. When three or more radios are displayed, it becomes difficult to immediately pick out pairs of buttons and labels. This is a problem with checkboxes, too. Users read in F-shaped patterns, top to bottom, and find it harder to resolve multiple items in a row.

  2. Creating a readable sentence won't be possible with many radio buttons, and it will increase the length of your labels in some cases, too. Because you're going to have to use whatever pattern you choose consistently throughout the rest of the UI, you're adding a constraint to future designs (ie all radios will have to work as full sentences). Constraints are something you should be trying to avoid - trust me on that.

  3. I'm not convinced a readable sentence will make an impact anyway, because users don't read UI forms like full prose - they fix their eyes on a few keywords and use context to glean meaning. Actually, they read prose that way too - but at least here we get the advantage of users expecting a 'telegraphic' language style.

  4. 'Sentence' radio buttons take up a lot of horizontal space, which isn't something you always have in abundance as a designer. Most designs stretch vertically far better than they do horizontally, whether on web, on print or on desktop. You might end up adding more items to your choices, too, which could mean you have to wrap your lines. That's bad because your second line will look like a new set of controls.

I don't think it's a bad idea, and you're right to take interface prose style seriously (nothing says 'untrustworthy, unestablished organization' like typos and bad grammar), but in practice I think it's worse UX and it has practical disadvantages.

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great answer thank you! –  Patricia Mar 5 '12 at 14:37
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If this is a situation where the form is really just this one piece of input (and not a series/list of inputs), I would use your sentence format, but with a dropdown opposed to the radio buttons.

It should be the same functionality, but cleaner (hopefully)

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I think it truly depends on the nature of the buttons and the environment they are being used in. For instance in a recent design I was working on required days of the week to be used in radio button form. We listed them horizontally because when people see days of the week it's usually in a calendar format, that reads from left to right.

Also depending on the window size and shape you might not have the space to work vertically or horizontally. I agree with others that Vertical orientations are easier to read and decipher, but not the end all be all solution.

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+1 Good point with the calendar option! –  Benny Skogberg Sep 27 '12 at 6:20
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Generally, I list them vertically. But there are cases where horizontal listing is better, like when choices repeat and can be stacked.

( ) Agree ( ) Neutral ( ) Disagree

( ) Agree ( ) Neutral ( ) Disagree

( ) Agree ( ) Neutral ( ) Disagree

( ) Agree ( ) Neutral ( ) Disagree

Even if there are questions spliced in between them, this may still be a better choice over vertical listing, since it is compact.

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this is a good point as well –  Patricia Mar 5 '12 at 14:37
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