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I'd very much like to get some feedback on this, as of right now, it is a point of contention among the devs at my office and myself. Which is more usable: labels above form elements, or to the left?

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Mobile or desktop? on handheld touch devices, there's a small danger a right-handed user will obscure the label with his hand. – Ulrich Schwarz Aug 23 '13 at 18:59
Both, or either- I should have said- I've been dealing with responsive design for a while now. I've been leaning towards designs that feature labels-on-top for mobile, and labels-to-the-right for desktop, but out of intuition rather than any scientific reasoning. Would like to know if this is valid, or if there are better methods available. – Eddie Prislac Aug 23 '13 at 19:04
Unless this is a right-to-left language, labels should never be to the RIGHT of the fields. – DA01 Aug 25 '13 at 5:25
You're right, that should've said left, I've edited the original question – Eddie Prislac Jan 22 '15 at 3:35
up vote 9 down vote accepted

A hotly debated and often rehashed topic. These links can serve to get you started:

Top Aligned
Top-aligned labels tend to reduce completion times (how long it takes to complete a form) the most for familiar data (i.e. address, credit card, etc.) because they only require a single eye fixation to take in both input label & field.

Right Aligned
Right-aligned are a bit slower to complete but require less vertical screen space. They do, however, have flexibility issues when the labels change widths.

Left Aligned
Left-aligned forms are the slowest of the three to complete because of the number of eye fixations they require to parse.

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Spaceeba, mawcsco, for your well-thought-out answer. I'll give the links you posted a look. Thanks again! – Eddie Prislac Aug 23 '13 at 19:01
The uxmatters article is very thorough and has good suggestions distilled from the findings. Look for those at the bottom of the article. – Surreal Dreams Apr 23 '14 at 22:20

Labels above the fields are far faster for users to scan. Makes the form longer, but that is cancelled out by the rate which users can scan and fill out fields:

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Good answer fetter, thanks for the link. I always like it when people back up their arguments. – Eddie Prislac Aug 28 '13 at 18:26

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