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In the terms of a search where a user can enter an account number into a text field, what is the most straight forward instruction for a group that may not be tech savvy.

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The account number will always begin with a character from A thru Z.

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Let me put it this way. When have you, in the real world, ever used a sentence like "how many alphas in the alphabet?" or "what alphas would you like engraved on this necklace?". –  JonW Jun 17 '13 at 14:50
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Good point. I definitely thought letter was more straight forward, but I wasn't sure if it was just me, and if letter could mean something more than just A - Z for some people. –  smoca Jun 17 '13 at 14:56
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you could put an example: account number ABCDE12345 aseptically if there is some kind of uniform pattern like: AB-CDE-12345 –  Igor-G Jun 17 '13 at 14:58
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Option 1 - 'Letter' makes sense. As a fairly literate native English speaker I haven't a clue what 'alpha' is supposed to mean ! –  PhillipW Jun 17 '13 at 20:08
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None of the meanings of the word alpha allow it to be used as a sysnonym for "letter". Saying "something starts with alpha" indicates that it starts with a greek letter α. –  Pasha S Jun 17 '13 at 21:27

2 Answers 2

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The most common usage of 'alpha' is in 'alphanumeric' characters. Ideally, I would go with Letter but, Alphabet is also a viable alternative.

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"and begin with an alphabet" so, abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvqxyz23453? or are we talking Cryllic123? "Alphabetical character" would be proper but long –  Yamikuronue Jun 18 '13 at 21:39
    
@Yamikuronue I fail to see the difference in your examples for 'being with an alphabet'. –  rk. Jun 18 '13 at 21:43
    
An alphabet is a set of characters. I was pointing out that you're typically either talking about the name of one set (like Latin or Cryllic) or the contents of one (like the string "abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvqxyz") when you use the term "alphabet", not a single character –  Yamikuronue Jun 19 '13 at 0:20
    
@Yamikuronue Ah, I see. So my alternative is not a viable one. I shall correct that then. –  rk. Jun 19 '13 at 0:42

First thing I noticed were "account number" and (Usually a D or G). This confused me.

From my experience, I would either A. Search in my gmail for the account # or B. find a physical piece which has my account number.

Solutions.

  1. You could have the first two 'letters' already filled out, assuming they are globally ubiquitous. An example would be my Permanent Resident Alien Card which starts with A# -- When I fill out an application that requires this, it's usually pre-populated. Another example would be your driver's license.

  2. have a char counter below your input field e.g. '10 characters remaining'.

  3. When you are asking for an account number, it would need context to why it needs your account number - i would have a link "forgot your account number" and have some requirements to have it sent to users email.

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